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capturing_skeet

What's in an Unusual Name? Maybe a Hollywood Contract (Date: May 26, 1997)

If your name is your destiny, chances are the fates never intended for Uma Thurman, Neve Campbell, Keanu Reeves, Skeet Ulrich, Jada Pinkett, Winona Ryder, Charlize Theron, Mykelti Williamson and Ving Rhames to see their names on a marquee.

Maybe they would be poets, herbalists, hairdressers or, in the case of Ulrich and Rhames, professional athletes, but movie stars? With those names? Are you kidding?

Stranger things happen. In a time when diversity, ethnicity and individuality are celebrated, it is the weird, one-of-a-kind monikers that are not only accepted but embraced by cutting-edge moms - and Hollywood moguls.



If anything, Hollywood would prefer a Winona to a Wendy today, said Pamela Redmond Satran, co-author of ``Beyond Jennifer and Jason'' and other baby-naming guides. It's considered cool to have a name that's unique.

When studio titans like Louis B. Mayer and Harry Cohen ruled Hollywood, it was routine to change a newcomer's name (especially if it was Jewish or clumsy) to something with a bit more stardust. Theodosia Goodman became Theda Bara. Emmanuel Goldenberg became Edward G. Robinson. Frances Gumm became Judy Garland. Tula Finklea became Cyd Charisse.

Goodbye to all that.

Not one of my clients has a changed name, said Simon Halls, a publicist who represents several newcomers. It's unnecessary.

A lot of the young stars today who have unusual names are children of counterculture parents, said Redmond Satran. In the 1970s, most kids were still being called Amy and Adam.

Halle Berry was named after a department store. Mykelti (pronounced Michael-t) Williamson, who appeared in Forrest Gump, was given the name Mykelti by his grandfather; it means spirit or silent friend in the language of the Blackfoot Indians.

Parker Posey was named after the 1950s model Suzy Parker. Roma Maffia's name was picked by her mother after a random glance at the map. Winona Ryder, born Winona Horowitz, was named for Winona, Minn.

Reeves' first name, Keanu, means ``cool breeze over the mountains'' in Hawaiian. Neve Campbell's first name (pronounced nev) is a variation of the pronunciation of her Dutch mother's maiden name.

Uma Thurman, whose father is a professor of Buddhist studies, has a Tibetan first name. Ving Rhames's first name is a contraction of his given name, Irving. Ulrich, named Brian, prefers the nickname Skeet (acquired because in Little League he used to fly across the field like a mosquito).

From: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Seattle, WA) | Date: May 26, 1997 |
Tags: 2007 articles, skeet ulrich
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