The name game: The new celebrity baby naming rules
As Sunday Rose Urban Kidman is born, John Walsh explains the new rules of celebrity monikers
Wednesday 09 July 2008
So, a big welcome to Sunday Rose Urban Kidman, six-and-a-half pounds, born (perversely) on Monday 7 July 2008, first child of Nicole Kidman, formerly Cruise (41) and country singer Keith Urban (40). You, Sunday Rose (0) join a starry cast that includes Suri, Fifi, Shiloh, Poppy and Heavenly – celebrity infants who've been saddled, right from the birth canal, with lovely but perhaps ill-advised names.
Sunday Rose Urban Kidman. Charming but slightly wrong, isn't it? Too many Ns. Too many trochees (bisyllables with the emphasis at the front). Remember Tuesday Weld, the movie star (The Cincinnati Kid, Looking for Mr Goodbar)? There used to be a Hollywood joke: if Fredric March's son, Fredric March II, married Tuesday Weld, would she be Tuesday March the Second? In the same spirit, I fear that Sunday Kidman will never be able to marry Calum Best, nor any male relatives of Minnie Driver, nor anyone called Morning, or Papers, or Lunch.
When the celebrity world has exhausted the possibilities of naming their children after countries (India, China, Ireland), cities (Slash's son is London Emilio, and I think we know Brooklyn Beckham) and fruits, flowers and plants (Apple Paltrow Martin, Bluebell Halliwell, Sage Moonblood Stallone), days of the week might just be the way to go. They sound familiar but brusque ("Don't pick your nose, Thursday!"). And of course, you can't call anyone Wednesday, because that was the name of the daughter in The Addams Family.
Names derived from movies are becoming popular in the birthing pools of celeb-land. U2 guitarist The Edge and his first wife Aislinn O'Sullivan called their third daughter Blue Angel, after the 1930 Marlene Dietrich film about a man-eating cabaret singer called Lola Lola (gee, thanks Mum and Dad.)
Another Dietrich movie, Destry Rides Again (1939), lies behind Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw's decision to name their son Destry Allyn. Rock personage John Cougar Mellencamp named his son Hud after the Paul Newman character in Martin Ritt's 1962 movie Hud, while the tennis player Arthur Ashe called his daughter Camera. Will his other children be christened Lights! and Action!? How will it sound when he shouts for them in the park?
Heaven knows what was flickering in the brains of Jason (My Name is Earl) Lee and Beth Riesgraf when they called their son Pilot Inspektor; did they hope he might later star in a TV show? Did the same logic inspire the US magician Penn Jillette to saddle his daughter with Moxie Crimefighter?
Musical names tend towards the freeform. Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi called their daughter Jaz, the late Joe Strummer named his daughter Jazz Domino (of course, Jazz Strummer will always be misheard as "Jazz Drummer") and both Spike Lee and Woody Allen named a son Satchel, in homage to Louis "Satchelmouth" Armstrong.
Literature doesn't get much of a shout in the naming game. Pierce Brosnan and Keely Shaye Smith called their son Dylan Thomas (asking for trouble), and Bruce Willis and Demi Moore have a daughter called Scout, after the kid in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Eddie Murphy's daughter is the sweet Zola Ivy. It takes some nerve to yoke the scandalous master of the 19th-century French realist novel with the name of an Edwardian parlourmaid. Gary Oldman coolly called his son Gulliver, perhaps failing to realise that, in the Travels, it's Lemuel's surname. Sting and his first wife Frances Tomelty had a daughter they named Fuchsia, possibly a reference to Lady Fuchsia in the Gormenghast trilogy. Fuchsia Sting?
Lastly, there are the crackpot names, the what-were-you-thinking names for which children will never forgive you. The actress Shannyn Sossamon bestowed on her child the gift of Audio Science – not so much a name as a degree course. Frankie Lampard, the footballer, had a moment of madness about his daughter Luna Coco Patricia, a name fatally redolent of both clowns and breakfast cereal.
Donovan, the folkie troubadour, turned his children, Oriole Nebula and Astrella Celeste, into stars from birth. Don Johnson and Kelley Phleger saddled their daughter with Atherton Grace without explaining why they'd named her after two (male) English cricket captains. Simon and Yasmin Le Bon continued their campaign to call all their children after air-freshener scents: Tallulah Pine and Amber Rose were joined by Saffron Sahara.
And can we all stop right now calling our children Rain? Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith decided that Willow Camille Reign had a nice ring. (WC Reign? I don't think so.) Vanilla Ice, the white rapper, himself christened Robert Van Winkle, settled on Dusti Raine for his daughter. And Ving Rhames, who played the scary gang boss in Pulp Fiction, ensured a lifetime of misery for his little sweetheart by calling her Reignbeau.
Yes, spelt like that. When she grows up, I hope she'll get medieval on his ass.
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