By Neil Street
2006 was a big year for celebrity baby names, with the likes of Suri, Shiloh, and Jayden James leading the pack.
The Celebrity Baby Names Blog, which monitors celebrity baby names on a daily basis, and is the internet’s leading site dedicated to the topic, has created a list of the Ten Most Notable Celebrity Baby Names of 2006. It includes not only the “weird” names, which are easy to spot, but also the notable names which made news in 2006 for reasons beyond the name itself. The list also highlights the trends that celebrities are setting, because without question, many of the names that celebrities choose this year will become popular names in future years.
# 10. Tennyson. The son of Russell Crowe and Danielle Spencer. Russell Crowe is supposedly a big fan of the 19th century British poet, Alfred, Lord Tennyson. If it’s true, Crowe is the only person since Queen Victoria to admire Tennyson. Generations of British schoolchildren learned to hate the stuffy poet, and it’s likely that Crowe, Jr. will also.
# 9. Maggie Rose. Comedian Jon Stewart and wife Tracey McShane welcomed little Maggie Rose in early February. It immediately started one of the celebrity trends of the year – giving daughters the name Rose, but only for a middle name. At least four more celebrities followed suit in 2006, including actor Jon Favreau, actress Anna Gunn, soccer star John Terry, and singer Melissa Etheridge.
# 8. Thijs. How do you pronounce ‘Thijs?’ Good question. Today Show host Matt Lauer and wife Annette Roque slapped the unpronounceable moniker on their newborn son in November. Why? Well, because Annette is Dutch, and “Thijs” is an abbreviation of the shortened Dutch variant of Matthew. And it’s pronounced “Tice.” Why not just name him Matt Junior?
# 7. Johnnie Rose. Before you leap to conclusions, Johnnie Rose (there’s ‘Rose’ again) is the daughter of Melissa Etheridge & Tammy Lynn Michaels. Johnnie may be an unusual name for a girl, but when did being unusual ever stop a celebrity? Little Johnnie Rose is named in honor of Melissa Etheridge’s father, who, according to a post on Tammy Lynn Michael’s blog, was a very important figure in her early life.
# 6. Zolten. No celebrity baby name list is complete without a clanger from Penn Jillette and wife Emily Zolten. Last year, they named their daughter Moxie Crimefighter. This year, they named their son “Zolten,” which happens to be Mrs. Jillette’s maiden name. And they would have gotten away with it, except that in explaining their choice, Jillette stated that “most importantly, it’s the name of Dracula’s dog.” And that’s the meaning that has stuck.
# 5.Moses. When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their son Moses, it left many observers puzzled. Why? Back in 2004 they named their daughter Apple. Did they now pick an ultra-traditional name to compensate? Sadly, it doesn’t seem to have worked. Now all anyone can focus on is the sibling combination they have created. As in, “hi, please meet our two kids, Apple and Moses.” It just doesn’t work. Maybe Penn Jillette is on the right track. Give the first one a weird name, give ‘em all a weird name.
# 4. Dannielynn Hope. In September, the tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith’s 20 year-old son touched everyone. In the soap opera of Anna Nicole’s life, it seemed that Daniel was an innocent bystander. Smith’s daughter was born a few days before Daniel’s death, and by naming her Dannielynn Hope, in honor of a brother she will never know, Smith at least did one thing well.
# 3. Jayden James. Is it Sutton? Is it Jesse? Is it a boy? Is it a girl? September was a month of frenzied speculation, as everyone awaited the birth of Britney Spears’s and Kevin Federline’s second child. First, everyone thought ‘he’ would be a ‘she’. Wrong. Then everyone thought his name was Sutton Pierce. Wrong again. But more than a month passed before the world learned the shocking truth: little Sutton Pierce was really named Jayden James. Jayden means “Thankful” in Hebrew. The little guy is likely be anything but thankful, when he’s old enough to understand where he landed.
# 2. Suri. In April, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes announced the birth of their daughter, Suri. What did “Suri” mean? Experts from Israel were consulted, when it appeared that “Suri” meant “get lost” in Hebrew. Other meanings surfaced from around the globe. It meant “rose” in Persian; “sun” in Sanskrit; it was a Pashtun tribe in India, and a “pickpocket” in Japan. No-one knew what to believe. Then, it was revealed that “Suri” meant “pointy-nosed” among the Toda people of southern India. Suri’s stock was sinking fast. So Tom and Katie, Inc. went into full damage-control mode. October’s Vanity Fair magazine was graced with a touching photo spread that portrayed little Suri with her doting parents. It worked. Everyone now loves little Suri. Even though no-one still knows what the name really means.
# 1. Shiloh Nouvel. Only the second coming of the Messiah could rival the media hysteria of May, 2006, as the world waited for Angelina to give birth. For weeks, Brad and Angelina had co-opted the entire African nation of Namibia, as their personal maternity ward. The world’s press was agog with excitement. When little Shiloh finally arrived, nobody cared that much about her name. What the world cared about was that the waiting was over, and Angelina had really had her baby. The planet released its collective breath, which it had been holding for several weeks. The baby was finally here. Who cared if a few party poopers associated “Shiloh” was some bloodstained Civil War battlefield? Brad and Angelina had picked the name, and therefore it was good. The most-anticipated baby in human history had arrived. Mother and daughter were doing fine. It was only May, 2006, but the celebrity baby of the year had arrived.
Neil Street is editor of the Celebrity Baby Names Blog, a leading website covering celebrity baby names. He is also co-publisher of the Baby Names Garden website, which is home to a complete list of 2006 celebrity baby names and other useful naming resources. He writes frequently about baby names.