Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla was born in Italy in 1895 and emigrated to America in 1913.
He began getting bit parts in silent films in the mid-1910s. As he progressed to larger parts in the later 1910s, he started being credited as “Rudolph Valentino” or some variant thereof.
He finally achieved fame in 1921 with his breakthrough role as Julio in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the top-grossing film of the year.
He went on to make more than a dozen other films — including The Sheik (1921), which turned Valentino into America’s first sex symbol.
But his superstardom was cut short when, at the age of 31, he died suddenly (of peritonitis, after suffering from a perforated peptic ulcer) soon after the premiere of his final film, The Son of the Sheik (1926).
The death of Valentino not only “caused worldwide hysteria, several suicides, and riots at his lying in state, which attracted a crowd that stretched for 11 blocks,” but also influenced U.S. baby names.
The name Rudolph, which had been on the rise during the early 1920s, saw peak usage in 1927. (So did the spelling Rudolf.)
1929: 1,220 baby boys named Rudolph [rank: 140th]
1928: 1,308 baby boys named Rudolph [rank: 134th]
1927: 1687 baby boys named Rudolph [rank: 110th]
1926: 1636 baby boys named Rudolph [rank: 111th]
1925: 1243 baby boys named Rudolph [rank: 136th]
Similarly, the name Valentino saw a spike in usage in 1927, reaching a level that wasn’t surpassed until the late 1990s.
1929: 30 baby boys named Valentino
1928: 49 baby boys named Valentino [rank: 991st]
1927: 90 baby boys named Valentino [rank: 682nd]
1926: 49 baby boys named Valentino [rank: 990th]
1925: 43 baby boys named Valentino
What are your thoughts on the names Rudolph and Valentino? Would you use either one? (If so, which?)
P.S. One factor — beyond style — that could have contributed to the decreasing usage of the name Rudolph from the mid-20th century onward is the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It was the top song in the nation at the end of 1949 — a year before “Frosty the Snowman” hit big — and went on to become a holiday classic, cementing the association between the name Rudolph and not just reindeer, but Christmastime in general.
Looking for a surname-inspired baby name with a connection to Catholicism?
Here are more than 200 options, most of which come from Catholic Englishmen martyred during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Because the goal was to include as many realistic baby names as possible, I interpreted “surname” and “saint” liberally in some cases. Xavier is not technically a surname, for instance, and many of the folks below are not yet full-fledged saints.
The hyperlinked names will take you to popularity graphs.
Spring is here! Let’s celebrate with some flower names.
But let’s do something a little different. Instead of the same old suggestions, like Lily and Rose, let’s check out some relatively modern flower names that ultimately come from Latinized surnames (via genus names).
Here’s a list of 20. Most of these are rarely used for humans, so if you’re looking for an unexpected nature name for a baby girl, this is a good place to start.
Abelia flowers are white or pink, and usually scented. The genus Abelia is part of the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae).
Abelia was named for British surgeon and naturalist Clarke Abel (1780-1826). Clarke’s version of the surname Abel is likely based on the Hebrew name Abel, meaning “breath.” An identical German surname is based on a pet form of Albrecht, made up of elements meaning “noble” and “bright.”
Camellia flowers are white, pink, red, and sometimes yellow. The genus Camellia is part of the Theaceae family. Leaves of the species Camellia sinensis are used to produce tea.
Camellia was named for Czech Jesuit missionary and botanist Georg Joseph Kamel (1661-1706). The surname Kamel is derived from a word meaning “camel.” Camels are not endemic to Europe, but they were commonly used on house signs in central Europe during the later Middle Ages.
The baby name Camellia is currently ranked 2,597th.
Cattleya flowers come in a range of colors: purple, orange, white, yellow, etc. The genus Cattleya is part of the orchid family (Orchidaceae).
Cattleya was named for English merchant and horticulturist William Cattley (1788-1835). The first element of the English surname Cattley is based on either Catta, a personal name, or a word meaning “(wild) cat.” The second comes from the Old English word leah, meaning “woodland; clearing.”
The baby name Cattleya is currently ranked 1,684th. It was very rare until a character named Cataleya was featured in the 2011 movie Columbiana. The character’s name was based on the genus name.
Clintonia flowers are white, red, or green-yellow. The genus Clintonia is part of the lily family (Liliaceae).
Clintonia was named for U.S. politician and botanist De Witt Clinton (1769-1828). The English surname Clinton is based on one of two different place names. One place name was derived from Old English words meaning “enclosure, fence” + “settlement,” while the other means “Glyme (river)” + “settlement.”
Pronunciation: DAL-yah (first syllable can rhyme with “gal”, “doll,” or “dale”)
Dahlia flowers come in a wide range of colors. The genus Dahlia is part of the daisy family (Asteraceae).
Dahlia was named for Swedish botanist Anders Dahl (1751-1789). The Swedish surname Dahl is based on the Old Norse word dalr, meaning “dale, valley.”
The baby name Dahlia is currently within the top 1,000, ranked 719th.
Pronunciation: for-SĬTH-ee-ah or for-SĪTH-ee-ah (chiefly British English)
Forsythia flowers are bright yellow. The genus Forsythia is part of the olive family (Oleaceae).
Forsythia was named for Scottish botanist William Forsyth (1737-1804). The surname Forsyth is based on Fearsithe, a Gaelic personal name made up of the Gaelic words fear, meaning “man,” and sith, meaning “peace.”
Gardenia flowers are white or pale yellow and strongly scented. The genus Gardenia is part of the coffee family (Rubiaceae).
Gardenia was named for Scottish-born American naturalist Alexander Garden (1730-1791). The English surname Garden is based on an occupational name for a gardener. It ultimately comes from the Old Norman French word gardin, meaning “garden.”
Kerria flowers are bright yellow. The genus Kerria is part of the rose family (Rosaceae).
Kerria was named for Scottish gardener and plant hunter William Kerr (d. 1814). The Scottish surname Kerr is a topographic name referring to a patch of wet ground overgrown with brushwood. It ultimately comes from the Old Norse word kjarr, meaning “copsewood, brushwood, thicket.”
Magnolia flowers are fragrant and come in white, pink, red, purple or yellow. Because they predate bees and butterflies, they’re typically pollinated by beetles.
The genus Magnolia was named for French botanist Pierre Magnol (1638-1715). The French surname Magnol may be based on either the Latin word magnus, meaning “great,” or on a French place name of uncertain derivation.
The baby name Magnolia is currently within the top 1,000, ranked 831st.
Monarda flowers are various shades of red, pink, and purple, and highly scented. The genus Monarda is part of the mint family (Lamiaceae).
Monarda was named for Spanish physician and botanist Nicolás Monardes (1493-1588).
Plumeria flowers (also known as frangipani) are very fragrant and come in several colors. The genus Plumeria is part of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae), like Allamanda.
Plumeria was named for French botanist Charles Plumier (1646-1704). The French surname Plumier is based on an occupational name for either a feather dresser or a plumber. The former occupational name ultimately comes from the Latin word plumarius, meaning “embroidered with feathers,” while the latter comes from the Latin word plumbum, meaning “lead.”
Zinnia flowers come in a wide range of colors (red, purple, orange, buff, yellow, etc.) and shapes. The genus Zinnia is part of the daisy family (Asteraceae), like Dahlia and Gazania.
Zinnia was named for German anatomist and botanist Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727-1759). The German/Jewish surname Zinn is based on an occupational name for a pewter worker or tinsmith. It ultimately comes from the Germanic word zin, meaning “tin, pewter.”
In 1872, The Burlington Free Press printed a story about a 98-year-old widow in Vermont who’d given birth to 23 children.
Marie Abert was born in Quebec in 1773 and married her late husband, Francois Peppin, at the age of 17. They left Canada for Vermont in 1838.
It was noticeable, in conversation with the old lady, that while her memory of the names and ages of her elder children was quite distinct, her recollection of the latter ones who have died grew indistinct, after the fifteenth or sixteenth, and the names of four she was unable to give us.
Here are the names of most of her children:
1. Francois 2. Antoine 3. Marie 4. Jean Baptise 5. Pierre 6. Joseph 7. Oliver 8. Pauline (twin) 9. Clemence (twin) 10. Julia 11. Andrew 12. Timothy 13. Hortense 14. Clemence 15. Zoe 16. “After Zoe came four children, two boys and two girls, all of whom died young.” 17. ? 18. ? 19. ? 20. Bruno 21. Paul 22. Seth 23. ? (boy)
Marie and Francois also had at least 99 grandchildren and 98 great-grandchildren.
Which of the 23 names — the ones that are known, anyway — is your favorite?