Celebrity Names Blog

Oldest Old Lady Names: Celebrity Dude Favorites

Oldest Old Lady Names: Celebrity Dude Favorites
axelle/bauer griffin

Celebrities love old lady names. Even dude celebrities. Just ask John Travolta, Mark Wahlberg, Ben Stiller, and others with daughters named Ella. This celebrity favorite is just one old lady name burning up the charts (#14 in 2009). What's the next hot old lady name? To make some guesses, we're casting back to the decade when Ella last made the Top 20: the 1890s. Join us for a look at the names of the oldest old ladies in the world.

A supercentenarian has lived 110 years or longer (which, in 2010, means they were mostly born before 1900). In the world, there are 78 such folks who can prove their dates of birth. Of these, 75 are women (seems women really do live longer!), and nineteen are in the US. And their names are all over our Celebrity Baby Names Lookup database.

This might seem weird (wasn't the 1890s a different time with a different naming culture?), but it isn't. Like Ella, these great-grandma names hit the "generational sweet spot" of familiar, but fresh. They don't sound musty to us, because most people of the generation are now dead. Most, but not all. And the ones still living make some pretty cool namesakes.

So what are these celebrity-friendly sweet-spot supercentarian names?

Walter: Okay, so it's an old man name, but it's the only one we're going to give you. Walter Breuning of Great Falls, Montana, is the oldest man alive. He quit smoking for good in 1999, at age 103. (See a recent picture of him on his Wikipedia page.) When Breuning was born on September 21, 1896, Grover Cleveland was president and Walter was the 13th most popular baby name (a ranking it more or less kept between 1880 and 1920). The name has declined in popularity steadily but slowly, and now comes in at #387. Rainn Wilson chose the name Walter for his son, while Julia Roberts and Melissa Joan Hart both used it as a middle name.

Ella: Ella Frieda Schuler, who at 112 years old likes to read National Geographic and Scientific American, may be the oldest person with a profile on Facebook. In 1897, when Schuler was born, Ella was the 36th most popular name (already down from its peak). The name tumbled through the decades and spent time off the charts in the 1980s. It is back big time in the 2000s, having zoomed all the way back up to #14. This gives Ella's Name Voyager graph the look of a crooked half-pipe. Our database shows six celebrity kids named Ella, including some of the moste heavy-hitting of Hollywood hunks (like John Travolta, pictured here with his daugher Ella Bleu and wife Kelly Preston).

Leila: The popularity chart for Leila also looks like a half-pipe, with an 1880s high of 165, a mid century low of zero, and a current ranking of 238.  The name was ranked #238 in the 1898 birth year of Leila Alice Denmark, M.D., who is co-developed the vaccine for whooping cough (otherwise known as the "P" in your DTaP) Dr. Denmark has written two books, and retired as a practicing pediatrician in 2001 at the age of 103. (Read her amazing Wikipedia biography.) Judy Reyes -- who plays a doctor on TV -- chose Leila for her daughter, as did two other celebs.

*

Not all the oldest old-lady names are so user-friendly. Nyleptha? Stay tuned for that one in a future installment. (Available now: part two [not even F. Scott Fitzgerald can revive this one], part three [I'll see you an Abcde, and raise you a Nyleptha], and part four [Louisa's coming back. What else is?]). 

As you wait, tell us: what is the name of the oldest person you know? Do you like the name?

--L.R.

Comments

Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

December 13, 2011 3:33 PM
By EmmyOnyx (not verified)

My great grandparents (m/f):

Johnston and Helen
Lorne and Hazel
unknown and Iola (went by Ola)

Grandparents (m/f):
Gordon Wesley (Gord)and Annie Maude (Anne)
Lorne and Beverly (Bev)

September 1, 2012 8:59 PM
By Sim1 (not verified)

My grandparents were:

Nicholas (no middle name)
Valorey Joyce Carmelita

Clarence Richard
Irene (no middle name)

My great grandparents were:

Antonio Nicholas
Elsie margaret

Chole
Thomas

Arthur Robert
Evelyn Beatrice

Franklin

I love old names and my 8 siblings plan to use family names and our cultural mixed backgrounds for our future children names.

November 15, 2012 10:05 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

This might seem weird (wasn't the 1890s a different time with a different naming culture?), but it isn't. Like Ella, these great-grandma names hit the "generational sweet spot" of familiar, but fresh. They don't sound musty to us, because most people of the generation are now dead. Most, but not all. And the ones still living make some pretty cool namesakes.

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