Is the World Ready for Another Grace Kelly?

Filed under: Baby Names


My daughter has always wanted to name a baby girl Grace, and it's especially nice because her great grandmother's name was Grace. However, she has married a Mr. Kelly, making a prospective baby girl Grace Kelly. She is wondering if this would target her baby girl with a lifelong problem, or if time has moved on enough for people to not associate the name with the beautiful Princess of Monaco?

- Planning ahead Grandma


Dear Grandma,

Please pass on my condolences on the loss of your daughter's favorite name. I wish I had better news, but the original Grace Kelly will always keep at least partial ownership of her name. That means that it can never fully belong to your granddaughter.

The problem is that Grace Kelly was an icon. In fact, she's currently in the lead in a Stylelist.com poll about the most beautiful American woman of all time. the most When a star reaches that status, her fame develops a life of its own. Consider movie stars of the generation before Kelly, whose paths have had longer to play out. Actresses like Constance Bennett and Kay Francis had outstanding careers and at one time ranked among Hollywood's highest-paid stars. But they never reached the iconic level, so their names just sound like names today. Their iconic contemporaries Greta Garbo and Mae West, though, are a different story.
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The irony is that for most families, Grace Kelly is a reason to choose the name Grace. Ms. Kelly's image of beauty and refinement has helped make her name the most elegant of the old-fashioned virtue names. But with the surname match, everything changes. Just as the last name Long changes Miles, or Ball changes Crystal, Kelly transforms Grace. You're no longer naming your daughter Grace, you're naming her GraceKelly. And that's not just a name -- it's an homage.

Throughout the life of a young Greta Garbo or Grace Kelly, everyone who encounters her name will immediately think of the other Greta/Grace first. That's not necessarily a bad thing if the homage is what you're aiming for. Your daughter, though, wants something different. She wants "just Grace," the strong and gentle name that's been touched by Grace Kelly, but not owned by her. With the surname Kelly, I'm afraid it's just not an option. Luckily, she still has plenty of time to work up a love for names like Violet, Hope, Iris, Lydia, Lillian or Blythe.

Have you run into any famous names? Share your experiences here. And if you have your own question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line!

Related: Do We Need New Baby Name Etiquette?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.