What's in a Name? Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart's Daughter, Billie Beatrice

Celebrity Moms Mar. 16, 2010 AT 5:45PM
What's in a Name? Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart's Daughter, Billie Beatrice Credit: Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com

Nameberry.com editors Pamela Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz -- who penned the books Baby Name Bible and Beyond Ava & Aiden-- are blogging for UsMagazine.com about why celebs choose the names they do, and what they mean.

When Rebecca Gayheart and Eric Dane named their baby girl (born March 3) Billie Beatrice, they joined the growing group of celebs who give their baby girls boyish "nickname names," often followed by a more feminine classic.

The name Billie, which started as a nickname for Wilhelmina, Wilma or Willa, reached its heyday around 1930, when it was No. 79 on the most popular list. This was a time when Willie, Bobbie, Johnnie, Jimmie, Tommie, Frankie and Freddie also appeared on the girls' list. During this period it had something of a showgirl image, represented by Ziegfeld Girl Billie Burke -- who played Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz (her birth name was Mary William Ethelbert). Billie has been in the Social Security's list of Top 1000 girls' names every year since 1889; it's currently  ranked No. 927.

Other notable namesakes include singer Billie Holiday (born Eleanora), tennis champ Billie Jean King and actress Billie Piper (born Leian Paul), as well as the iconic Michael Jackson song "Billie Jean." Celebs who have used the name for their daughters include Carrie Fisher and My Name is Earl star Ethan Suplee.

Possible playmates for Billie Dane with similarly boyish-nickname-style names: Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O'Connell's Charlie, Denise Richards' and Elin and Tiger Woods' Sam, Melissa Etheridge's Johnnie and Amanda Peet's daughter Frances, who is nicknamed Frankie.

Billie's middle name, Beatrice, which means "blessed" in Latin, has a long literary (Shakespeare, Dante) and royal (Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's daughter) history. After being stored in the attic for several generations, it is slowing coming back into favor, along with such other classics as Frances, Eleanor and Alice. Paul McCartney and soap star Emma Samms both have daughters named Beatrice. It reached its peak of popularity in 1910, around the year Aunt Bee of The Andy Griffith Show was born.

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