Written by Linda Rosenkrantz for Nameberry
Yes, July 4th is America's birthday, but other very notable people share that date. So, let's salute those with the more interesting names. It makes for quite a diverse little birthday party -- from Nathaniel Hawthorne, born in 1804, to First Daughter Malia Obama, born in 1998. But we won’t be including three who erroneously claimed the date as their own -- composer George "born on the Fourth of July" M. Cohan, MGM’s Louis B. Mayer and Louis Armstrong, whose real date of birth was August 4th.
Coolidge, born John Calvin and known as ‘Silent Cal,’ was the 30th president of the United States and the only one to be born on Independence Day. The quirky name Calvin, originally used to honor Protestant reformer John Calvin, and in modern times associated with fashion’s Calvin Klein, has been rising in popularity of late.
Boozer was a star NFL running back whose entire career was with the Jets in the 1960’s and 70’s. Emerson was a strictly male surname name, associated mainly with Ralph Waldo E., until actress Teri Hatcher chose it for her daughter in 1997. And the rest is baby name history -- Emerson is now Number 244 for girls, 364 for boys.
Marie Saint made her mark opposite Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront and as a Hitchcock heroine in North by Northwest. Eva-- pronounced either eeva
-- has been in the Top 100 since 2009, probably influenced in part by exotic actresses Eva Longoria, Eva Mendes and Eva Green.
Lollobrigida (born Luigina) is the sexy Italian actress who popularized her name in this country in the 1950’s -- bringing it as high as Number 54 in the following decade. Gina is still used sparingly, but modern parents tend to prefer Nina or Lena.
Stuart was the beautiful 1930’s film star who made a dramatic comeback as the 100-year-old Rose in Titanic in 1997. Her name also went into retirement, but with its recent choice by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, a revival just might be in the stars.
Clay Smith was a Civil War general and later a congressman from Kentucky, who was nominated for the US presidency by the National Prohibition Party. Green is a totally undiscovered color name, sounding brighter at this point than Blue or Grey.
Fontana is a top model born in Brazil—and mother of a son named Zion. So if you thought there was only Isabel, Isabelle, Isabella, Izabella and Isabeau to choose from—now you know, there’s also Isabeli.
Literary critic Lionel
Mordecai Trilling was a major force in the intellectual life of his time. Lionel means ‘young lion,’ but it hasn’t taken off like its leonine brothers -- Leo, Leonardo -- though with its substantial history of notable bearers, Lionel could make a solid, interesting choice.
Most of us were introduced to this pretty Hawaiian name meaning “still water” by First Daughter Malia
Obama in 2008. By the following year, Malia had climbed to Number 191 on the charts.
The Scarlet Letter
author Hawthorne inherited his first name from his father, but his surname at birth was spelled Hathorne. In the New Testament, Nathaniel
was the apostle who was also called Bartholomew. Stalwarts Nathaniel and Nathan are both firmly in the Top 100, with Nathan leading at Number 29.
One of America’s wittiest and most popular playwrights, Neil
Simon has received more Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer, winning a Tony for The Odd Couple.
Neil -- also spelled Neal -- peaked in the 1950’s, but with parents reevaluating short, straightforward, midcentury classics, we’re not counting it out. The Irish Niall has an infusion of Celtic charm.
You probably knew her as Dear Abby/Abigail Van Buren, but she was born Pauline
Esther Friedman (nn Popo), and her identical twin, Esther Pauline (nn Eppie) would become Ann Landers. Both Pauline and Esther are names that were in the Top 100 until the 1930’s; Pauline disappeared in 1997, but Esther, with its New Testament cred, is now at Number 242.
Taylor Barnum was, of course, the American showman who founded the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. Phineas feels much less fusty than it once did, thanks to the lovable nickname Finn. Julia Roberts spelled her son’s name Phinnaeus -- but he too goes by Finn.
No, we’re not suggesting you name your son Rube, but Reuben
, the proper name of Rube Goldberg, who was known for his wildly elaborate and idiosyncratic comical inventions, is a rich and resonant Old Testament name of a son of Jacob. Sadly neglected, Reuben was Number 149 in 1880, and has gradually slipped ever since. A perfect possibility for a contemporary son of Jacob.