Duana Names: Fame, In A Name

Duana Posted by Duana at June 28, 2019 19:01:33 June 28, 2019 19:01:33

Hi Duana, 
I've been such a fan of yours for a long time, and have been reading your column since long before I ever thought about getting pregnant! I really hope that you're able to help us out with our naming dilemma. My husband and I have an (I think) unusual problem. We are pregnant, and are set to have a little boy in the next couple of months. We have a name that we both love, but the problem is that it's a name that's already been taken by a pretty famous person. 
The name that we love is Henry. Our last name is Mancini. So... Henry Mancini, famous composer, of Pink Panther fame. If we had ANY other last name, I think that it would be a done deal - I love classic names, I think that it's a name that could carry our son throughout childhood and into adulthood, and it just makes me happy. But I have a lot of concerns. I know that it's crazy, but I'm worried that he'll feel that he'll have a lot to live up to. And he'll never be on the front (few) pages of a Google search. And that people will think that we are massive big band fans, which we're not. On the other hand, would it be beneficial to be able to "hide" online a bit, behind a more famous name? I know that I'm overthinking this, but I can't help it! 
We've talked to some friends and family, and I've found that it's a bit of a generational divide. Older family members don't think it's a good idea, because their minds automatically go to THE Henry Mancini. Friends my age and younger (mid-30s) don't know who I'm talking about, and love the name Henry. We've also had a few people say that maybe our son will become the more famous Henry Mancini, by, I don't know, curing cancer, or inventing time travel. (Wouldn't that be nice?!)

Other things to note: The middle name is definitely going to be Bradley, which, I know doesn't naturally flow with Henry, but the more I say it, the more I kind of like it. I'm also not totally closed off to other names! A few that we are also considering are John, Benjamin, James and Leo, but I'm open to suggestions from you! If it's helpful, girl names would have been June, Violet, Ruth, Ramona or Joy. 
Okay, that's all! Thank you SO much for taking the time, and I am really looking forward to hearing what you think!



So I have a confession – when I first read this letter, I was about to write a response gently correcting you, because of course, the character is Michael Mancini, obviously. You weren’t paying close enough attention to Melrose Place…
Or I wasn’t, because of course that’s not who you’re referencing. But honestly, I think the point stands, because people have all kinds of references for names, and even when I realized you were writing about naming your kid Henry Mancini, I had to hurriedly read the next line because while I knew I’d heard the name, I didn’t know why, or where – all of which goes to show that people aren’t going to automatically assume an association with your son and that name.  Not just because not everyone knows him, but because, iconic though Pink Panther and his other works are, there are new composers working every day, and people are much more likely now to think of John Williams as a master score writer, or to talk about the Westworld theme song… you get the idea. 

I truly don’t see a way this will hurt him, especially since Mr. Mancini the elder died some 25 years ago  -- I wouldn’t worry about your son’s Googlability in 30 years, both because I think googling and otherwise looking people up is going to be far different and more sophisticated than we can dream of right now, and because yes, he (and maybe some other Henry Mancinis) will have made huge impacts on the world. 

And even if they’re the same age and regularly confused, it doesn’t necessarily hurt anything. For example, if I reference Rob Thomas, most people think of the lead singer of Matchbox 20 – but that hasn’t hurt the career of the ‘other’ Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars/Party Down/iZombie any, except for occasionally maybe getting emails from each other’s great aunts, right? 

I do like your other name choices, John and Leo in particular, and if you were absolutely stuck for names I’d recommend Marcus or Jonah or Abel - but I don’t see any problem with naming him Henry, and if, in 15 years or so, he does find it’s a problem, you can recommend he call himself Henry B. Mancini or H.B. Mancini or any other permutation therein, and be as visible or Googlable as he wants to be. 

Write down a few different permutations, including with Bradley and B written out – if you feel strongly about it, you can maybe even swap the two, so that he’s officially B. Henry Mancini – but I honestly promise you’re fine, and that your Henry will think the association is a cool footnote rather than a digital albatross. 
Let us know!

Fox Photos/ Getty Images

Tags: Name Nerd
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