Celebrity Names Blog

Maya Rudolph's Baby Name: Maybe More Interesting Than We First Thought

Maya Rudolph's Baby Name: Maybe More Interesting Than We First Thought
Photo Credit: Girlie/Fame Pictures

Bridesmaids star Maya Rudolph and Magnolia director Paul Thomas Anderson have created an everyman. Baby Jack Anderson joins sisters Pearl and Lucille.

Jack, hm? The number one name for years in England, Jack also dominates the charts in Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. In the United States, Jack is #39 on the baby name charts, and in Sweden, Jack's #65. The name is old and storied, a genuine old-fashioned favorite, like Pearl and Lucille. (In the US, Jack actually hit peak popularity in the 1920s.)

As you'd expect from so popular a name, the list of admirable people bearing the name just goes on and on. In particular, the name connotes charm and charisma -- and mischief. John F. Kennedy, AKA Jack (you did know Jack's a nickname for John, right?) was known for his presidential mettle, tanned yacht club looks... and his celebrity flirtations. Jack Nicholson: enough said.

Then there are nursery rhyme Jacks, who climb beanstalks to anger ogres, trip over their feet while fetching water, and nimbly leap candlesticks even though we're guessing their mothers probably told them not to get so close to an open flame. Jack is, perhaps, the ur-boy's name, rough and tumble and cute, but dashing, which is perhaps why it works so well on Captain Jack Sparrow.

To fans of Maya Rudolph's less-popular earlier choices, Pearl and Lucille, Jack might seem a little plain. Like Harper, maybe this choice, while doubtless a nice name, seems more of a follower than a leader. We like our celebrity names brave! 

Then there's the problem of the popular first name coupled with the popular last name. Jack Anderson joins a world already thick with Jack Andersons. According to Wikipedia, other Jack Andersons include a Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative journalist (he reported on John F. "Jack" Kennedy's assassination, among other things); a dance critic; and a creator of oversized statues in the Midwest.

Name sharing is a fate baby Jack shares with his father. Wikipedia shows a whole slew of Paul Andersons.  Paul Thomas Anderson is not even the only film director named Paul Anderson; there's also Paul W.S. Anderson. (Paul W.S. Anderson is the father, with Milla Jovavich, of Ever Gabo: pretty much the opposite baby name strategy from choosing Jack.) 

But name sharing is a new kind of problem in the age of social media. We've written before about peculiar vulnerability our names have, when so much depends upon search engines and Facebook. And when your name takes on a new cultural meaning, it can really mess with your sense of self. Just ask Miley.  And yet we're fascinated by the way our names can become famous: a new tv show will air this weekend based on the premise of ordinary people switching places with celebrities who share their names. By choosing a name that's already shared, Maya Rudolph and Paul Thomas Anderson are setting their son up to develop an already-plural sense of self. 

Jack Anderson: it may already have a reputation, but that's what makes it an interesting example of a modern name. It's a name with the repetition already built in. If his father is any indication, to stand out with a name that's already shared, you have to do something special.

What do you think of Jack?



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July 20, 2011 6:39 PM
By Mom (not verified)

I think Jack goes nicely with his sisters' names. The parents seem to be keeping the names in the same general era.

July 20, 2011 10:35 PM
By Juli (not verified)

If you want to call your baby "Jack", for goodness' sake, give him a proper _name_: John.

Of course, who knows: given the popularity of nicknames on birth certificates nowadays, maybe by the time all these Jacks grow up, full names and nicknames will reverse roles, and Jack will have the option of going by John...

July 21, 2011 10:21 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

This blog entry seems totally backwards to me. Namy Candy has only positive things to say when celebrities name their kids completely asenine things like Bear and Alef and Bing. For pete's sake- those are a wild animal, a letter, and a search engine- not names!

But a pair of celebrities name not 1, not 2, but all 3 of their children something completely lovely and normal and instead of saying "FINALLY!" they are criticized for being boring a plain! It even goes so far as to say that little Jack Anderson will have identity problems because he isn't the only Jack Anderson on the planet!

I'm sorry, but I think that being named something completely ridiculous like Zuma or Moroccan is WAAAAAY more likely to land those kids in therapy then being not the only Jack in the world.

July 21, 2011 1:33 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Considering Jack has been used as a first name for over 100 years, I think one can safely say it's an accepted full name on it's own now.

Jack may not be the most exciting name, but I agree that it's far better than Moroccan. And it goes well with Pearl and Lucille.

July 22, 2011 2:37 PM
By Zoe (not verified)

I like Jack in a vacuum. It's a nice "sturdy" name. Well known and masculine. However, its increasing popularity gives me pause. I can see why it's popular. It has a long history of use, a throwback vibe and the mental picture of a Jack is someone who is ruggedly handsome.

But it is very, very common and Anderson is also very, very common. I would have gone with something more interesting. I suppose Jack "fits" with Pearl and Lucille. But I would've gone with something more unusual. For some reason Jasper seems like it'd go perfectly.

July 25, 2011 1:52 AM
By Marie (not verified)

I would agree with Anonymous about the longevity of Jack. It is no longer just a nickname, but has emerged as its own name.

Jack can fit a boy as easily as a man. I think it's a great name!

July 26, 2011 10:44 PM
By hillary (not verified)

Great names (all three siblings). Perhaps Jack is a bit plain compared to his sisters but plain names often serve men well.

July 26, 2011 11:59 PM
By Lyllah (not verified)

I always think of Capt. Jack Harkness from Doctor Who/Torchwood. He is not a side character in my mind and is just awesome.

September 16, 2014 6:59 AM
By archive.org (not verified)

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