Stupid Baby Names Throughout History

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

OK, so Kim Kardashian, whom no one should give the slightest bit of a micro-fuck about, but unfortunately, a lot of people do, and her partner, rapper Kanye West, joined the celebrity parent parade of giving their newborn a name that, when they reach an age of sensibility (like maybe 7 or 8), they’ll be clamoring to change it. In this case, they named their daughter North West. Haw, haw, I get it!  Someone needs some direction.

But it’s nothing new, though I can’t really pinpoint how far back in history stupid baby names/vanity projects go.  I remember reading in 1962, the day after John Glenn became the first astronaut to circle the earth, someone named their child “Orbit.”  But that was no celebrity offspring, that was just some American parent watching TV while delivering and having an attack of dumb. Also, from collecting baseball cards, I knew of a ballplayer in the late 50’s/early 60’s named Neil Chrisley, whose birth name was Barbara O’Neil Chrisley. The real life story of “A Boy Named Sue!”  I believe there was some Irish folk song called “Barbara O’Neil” that Chrisley’s parents must have been inspired by. Whatever, giving him that name probably toughened up young Barbara.

However, neither of the above were children of celebrities, who give their children ridiculous names to show how freaking avant-garde and/or new age they are. Sadly, the forerunner of this trend was indeed one of my idols, Frank Zappa. Moon Unit Zappa was born in 1967, followed in the next few years by Ahmet and Dweezil, but to give Zappa credit, his choices of names seemed more deliberately silly than those that followed.

The Zappa kids grew up with their unusual names intact and became minor celebrities in their own right, but  others weren’t quite so keen. The daughter of Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg was given the birth name of Dandelion, probably after the Rolling Stones song, but since the parents’ relationship was so drug-fueled, when she got the chance, Dandelion became Angela and also a teetotaler. Zowie Bowie changed his name as an adult to Duncan Jones, adopting his famous father’s real surname, and becoming a successful experimental film-maker. More recently, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ daughter Suri is now being called Sara by her mom, as part of the program to distance herself further from that disastrous marriage.

Others have hung on. The son of late 70’s icon Mark Bolan has kept his first name Rolan, and the daughter of Jefferson Airplane singers Paul Kantner and Grace Slick has kept the name China, though initially Grace had named the child “god,” with emphasis on no capital letter. Even the people at the hospital were like, “No really, we’re not going to put that down,” so Grace settled for “a place with a lot of people.”

In the cases of all the above except Zappa, you could blame outside influences, but what excuse do the recent generations of parents have? And why do daughters seem to suffer this indignity more than sons? The Geldof girls’ names were quirky at first with Peaches and Pixie, but where do you get Fifi Trixiebelle or Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily? (The latter was the product of the former Mrs. Geldof, Paula Yates’ relationship with INXS singer Michael Hutchence. Since both parents are deceased, HHTL lives with Bob Geldof) The marriage of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore brought to the world Tallulah, Rumer, and Scout, maybe not the weirdest names, but I can’t recall any classmates who answered to that. Katie Price wins the ludicrous derby though, with Princess Tiaamii, Crystal Ester (sounds like a 60’s hallucinogen), and Junior Savva Andreas, in contrast to her firstborn, Harvey. Huh?

We can’t forget David & Victoria Beckham naming their children supposedly after where they were conceived. Brooklyn (OK maybe), Romeo (Rome?), Cruz (Santa Cruz?), and Harper (Harper Valley?) are never going to challenge John and Mary in the most popular name category, but at least they’re not completely from outer space. Especially compared to Victoria’s Spice Girl mate Geri Halliwell, who named her daughter Bluebell Madonna. Can understand the Madonna tag (speaking of which, have you ever met another person, male or female, named Lourdes?), but the Bluebell part just sounds like Geri was off in Fairy Land for a spell.

I don’t know what I would have named my children if I’d ever had any, though I did like the name Major at one time, thinking of the late soul singer Major Lance, and what a powerful figure someone with that name could potentially cut. Then again, it could have all backfired, the kid could have been terribly insecure, and I as a parent might have felt extra guilt. Certainly if I’d become a parent, I’d have wanted my kids to have a name to be proud of, not some concoction that the parents foist upon them. And as for North West, as soon as her parents’ relationship goes South (and you can bet the farm it will!), her name will likely take another direction, too.

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