Today is Donald Duck's birthday, so we thought we'd commemorate it by inviting a bunch of his oldest chums over to Nameberry to celebrate, characters like Mickey and Goofy and Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar. And though these cartoon creatures may not be the most admirable of namesakes, here are 11 names still worth considering.
Of course the party wouldn't be complete without Donald's girlfriend. She was first known as Donna Duck when she appeared in the 1937 cartoon <em>Don Donald</em>, making her name change in the 1940 <em>Mr. Duck Steps Out</em>. Her name was one of the first flower names to re-bloom and still hasn't wilted, now at Number 166.
Abner is the country mouse rube from backwoods Podunk who comes to visit his city cousin Monty in the 1936 <em>The Country Cousin</em>, and the bumpkin image of his name was reinforced by decades of <em>L'il Abner</em> comic strips. But today's parents are beginning to look at Abner with fresh eyes, as a perfectly respectable Old Testament appellation.
Betty Boop started her career in 1930 in the Fleischer Brothers Talkartoon called <em>Dizzy Dishes</em>, initially as a cross between a sexy girl and a dog, gradually becoming more human. In the 1980's, she reemerged as a popular icon, and in the 2010's her name is looking feasible again, thanks largely to the <em>Mad Men</em> mystique.
Clara Cluck is an operatic chicken diva that made her debut in a 1934 cartoon called <em>Orphan's Benefit</em> and went on to appear to eight more, including <em>Mickey's Grand Opera</em>, in which she belts out a duet from <em>Rigoletto</em>. The name Clara is currently climbing, now ranking at an impressive Number 151. Ewan McGregor used it for one of his daughters.
Fifi is a mischievous little brown dog who played Pluto's girlfriend in five cartoons, beginning with <em>Puppy Love</em> in 1933. They eventually married and had a set of 'quin-puplets.' And with Lulu and Coco and Gigi finding themselves on more and more birth certificates, why not this other high-kicking French showgirl name as well?
Despite the fact that Pluto had married Fifi, there was another, later, love in his life--Dinah, a red-nosed dachshund, who caught his fancy in the 1942 cartoon <em>The Sleepwalker</em>. Dinah is a sadly neglected sweet Southern name -it hasn't been on the charts since 1966--and we've always wondered why.
Felix the Cat debuted on screen in 1919, created by Otto Messmer at the Pat Sullivan Studios in New York, then finding even greater fame in the funny papers four years later. As heavily merchandised as Mickey Mouse, Felix the Cat is still instantly recognizable. His name, with its happy meaning and cool <em>x</em>-ending, is currently riding a wave of popularity.
Based on a Munro Leaf story, <em>Ferdinand the Bull</em>, a tale of a ferocious-looking but shy and gentle bull, its Disney animated version won the Oscar for Best Cartoon of 1938. The name still retains something of its clunky feeling, but it also has some European royalty and Shakespearean cred to recommend it
Mickey had a girlfriend in his very first cartoon appearance--in the 1928 <em>Steamboat Willie</em>. From then on she was omnipresent, seen in no less than 73 cartoons. While the name Minnie has not yet returned (partly due to the Mouse), it could follow names like Millie and Winnie. Parents are just beginning to show some interest in the mother name, Minerva.
Olive Oyl is another cartoon character that started in a comic strip--appearing solo ten years before boyfriend Popeye, with an earlier amour named Harold Hamgravy. The skinny, rubbery-limbed animated version was created at the Fleischer Studios in 1933. With Olivia now at Number 4, some parents are considering the simpler Olive, which was chosen by Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen
Oswald was the protagonist of 26 silent cartoons made by Walt Disney in the 1920's. After losing his rights to Oswald, Disney came up with his biggest winner-- Mickey Mouse. If the name Oswald feels too buttoned up, just think about the wild and goofy nickname Ozzy (which is <em>not</em> the birth name of Mr Osbourne).
Toby Tortoise appears along with Max Hare in the 1936 Oscar-winning short <em>The Tortoise and the Hare</em>. The downtrodden looking Toby, of course, wins the race against the overly confident Max. Actor Tobey Maguire has restored some testosterone to Toby--which has long been unisex--and the more formal Tobias is rising in popularity.
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