Celebrity Names Blog

The Baby Name James Franco Rescued

The Baby Name James Franco Rescued
ANG/Fame Pictures

Students gearing up for back to school are gathering their pencils, pens, computers and books, and that includes actor turned celebrity student James Franco.

Franco, the subject of much recent press including a giant profile in New York magazine, did college in 2 years at age 28 and then completed three masters programs at the same time, all while starring in movies like the Spider Man trilogy, Milk, and Eat, Pray, Love. Turns out that wasn't enough graduate school for him, and Franco will reportedly attend Yale this fall to pursue a PhD in literature.

This hardworking Renaissance man may challenge the idea that actors are dumb and grad students, unglamorous.  But what can his powers do for Franco, a baby name that despite its fashionable "o" ending and ancient lineage hasn't spent much time on the baby name charts?

Franco is not a new name. Behind the Name shows two paths to Franco.  It's an old Germanic form of Frank (the people who settled what's now France), or a contraction of the Italian Francisco (from the late Latin for "Frenchman.")  While Franco has functioned as first name and as last name to an impressive list of notables, it hadn't been on the US charts much, although it did appear briefly in the 900s in the late 1970s. (Incidentally: what was that about? Readers, who was the famous Franco circa 1978?)

But check out the Name Voyager map for Franco. Since 2004, Franco's been back and climbing the charts, reaching up to #750 in 2009. 

By 2004, James Franco had already starred in Freaks and Geeks, Spider Man and James Dean. His fame has only increased as the name Franco has gotten more popular. (Did we mention the movie he directed at Cannes, the art exhibit, the short story in Esquire?) Surely, James Franco can take credit for resurrecting Franco. (Did we also forget to mention his splashy role on General Hospital, where he plays an artist named... Franco?)

But like James Franco himself, the name Franco succeeds on many fronts. Besides being a recycled celebrity last name, Franco's Italianate vibe works perfectly with recent celebrity baby names like Cosima and Marcello.

What do you think of Franco? Is it back for good, or will it sink again?



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August 21, 2010 5:29 PM
By C C & B's mom (not verified)

I always think of the Spanish dictator from the 70s

August 21, 2010 6:27 PM
By Lane

I guess that answers that question: Apparently, after Francisco Franco died in 1975, the name had a few years of (mild) popularity.

August 21, 2010 10:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

This is so funny b/c we just named our daughter, who was born in February, Francesca. My mom watches General Hospital, and we heard about James Franco being on there, so we started (Jokingly) calling my daughter Franco sometimes. Our moms hate it when we do that :)

August 22, 2010 10:21 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The Franco from the 70's I thought of was Franco Zeffirelli, the director who did Romeo and Juliet.

August 22, 2010 12:43 PM
By Marie (not verified)

How about Franco Harris? Pro-bowler between 1972-80. As a 22-year old, that was my first thought.

August 24, 2010 12:34 PM
By Annee (not verified)

Franco Harris -- Pittsburgh Steelers running back, 1972-1983.

August 24, 2010 3:28 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Franco is the name of the uber-hot Puerto Rican firefighter in Rescue Me. James can't take all the credit!

August 30, 2010 1:46 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The only Franco I can think of from the 70's? Franco American, the company that made (makes??) raviolios and spagetti-os.

September 10, 2010 10:46 PM
By Essy (not verified)

I knew a guy named Franco and he hated it and insisted everyone call him Frank. it was kind of funny he had three brothers, Marco, Paulo, and Anthony. I always wondered why they didn't go for Antonio.

but any way, I think if Franco was James' first name, he'd give it more of a bump like Orlando Bloom. but it's nice because you it'd be rare if you named your baby Franco for someone to say "HEy did you name him after James Franco?"

--- think Franco is an adorable name for a baby girl named Francesca (which is also a lovely name!)

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