Top Baby Names from Hollywood's Golden Age

Several baby girl names are inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood

Woman walking on Hollywood Walk of Fame, low section (blurred motion)
Grant Faint/The Image Bank/Getty Images

At the current top of the list of popular baby names are several gems from Old Hollywood. While the trend seems to be much more prevalent among girls names than boys, it's not entirely clear whether parents are picking the names because of the Old Hollywood connections or just because these names all have a classic, traditional sound.

Here are some of the most popular Old Hollywood names among millennials.


The name Ava has been a solid top-ten baby name for the past decade, likely influenced by some celebrity parents choosing it for their daughters. But there's no denying that the most famous Ava, in American history at least, is Hollywood actress Ava Gardner. The North Carolina-born Gardner wowed audiences with her on-screen magnetism and startling good looks.

She appeared in movies such as The Killers, Mogambo and The Night of the Iguana. She had three high-profile marriages, to actor Mickey Rooney, musician Artie Shaw, and singer Frank Sinatra. Ava Gardner personified beauty and glamour in Old Hollywood, and it's interesting to see the name revived in the millennial era.


This classic girls' name began climbing the popularity charts in the 1990s, and by 2001 was regularly appearing in top 10. Then in 2014, Olivia held the No. 2 spot among girls' names. Hollywood grand dame Olivia de Havilland is the oldest living actor to win an Academy Award, and she was among the first to popularize the name in the U.S. Often cast opposite leading man Errol Flynn, de Havilland appeared in many classic movies in the golden age of Hollywood, including Gone with the Wind, To Each His Own,The Snake Pit, and The Heiress.


She came in at No. 3 in 2014, after first appearing in the top 100 in the late 1990s.  Sophia has had a dramatic increase in popularity over the past two decades, and the name is most closely associated with Italian femme fatale Sophia Loren. She rose to stardom in the 1960s appearing in movies like Two Women, The Millionairess, and Marriage Italian Style.

Loren stepped out of the Hollywood spotlight int he 1970s to focus on her children, making films in her native Italy. She remains one of the icons of the 1960s film scene and one of Hollywood's most revered actresses.

While this spelling has proven the most popular, alternate spelling "Sofia" also has appeared among the top 25 baby names in recent years. Incidentally, "Sofia" is the original spelling of Loren's name as well.


Since 1880, the baby name Elizabeth has always appeared within the top 100 girl names. In fact, the name has been so popular that for 72 of those years, the name made it into the top 10 baby names. Over the past decade, Elizabeth has regularly stayed among the top 15 most popular names for girls.

The best-known Hollywood Elizabeth is, of course, Elizabeth Taylor, who made her first film, Lassie Come Home, at age 10. Taylor made 55 movies in all, and won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice, for Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The latter was one of the films in which Taylor appeared with husband Richard Burton.

Their rocky relationship counted as two of Taylor's eight marriages. Beyond acting, Taylor was known for her advocacy of AIDS research and other charitable causes.

Still Popular But Less Common

For parents seeking an Old Hollywood name for their daughter that may be a little less common than the list above, there are many options which still hit the popularity charts, but not as high on the list. Here are some other Golden Age actresses whose names may inspire ideas for your baby girl.

Audrey Hepburn: the pixie-faced actress appeared in movies including Breakfast at Tiffany's, Roman Holiday. and Sabrina. The name Audrey came in at a healthy No. 36 on the list of girls' names for 2014 and has enjoyed some resurgence in recent years.

Vivian Leigh: The brunette bombshell starred as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind and as Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire. Despite sounding somewhat old-fashioned, the name Vivian ranked No. 98 among most popular girl's names in 2014.

Natalie Wood: First seen on screen in the Christmas movie A Miracle on 34th Street, Wood starred in several big Hollywood films as a young girl, including Rebel Without a Cause and West Side Story. Natalie ranked at No. 23 among girls' names in 2013.

It's no surprise that the Golden Age of Hollywood, with its glamour and sophistication, continues to inspire. In any case, the names of several well-known silver screen actresses from the heyday of the 1940s and 1950s have become modern staples for parents seeking names for their baby girls.

Continue Reading