When Jennifer Garner appeared on Jay Leno last month, the eight-months-pregnant actress shared that her daughters were suggesting names for their new sibling: Ralphie, Frankie, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Rosemarie. But when Garner and her husband Ben Affleck, welcomed their third baby, a boy, on February 27 in Santa Monica, they went a completely different route. Instead of the more adventurous path they took with daughters Violet and Seraphina, they chose the Biblical name Samuel for their son.
Samuel has long been a popular Old Testament classic, ranking as the 24th most popular boy's name in the country, with over 11,000 other little Samuels born last year. The Biblical Samuel was one of the great judges and prophets of the Israelites, destined for a holy life from birth and establishing the Hebrew monarchy. Several other high-profile celebs have chosen to name their sons Samuel, including Jack Black and Naomi Watts and Liv Schreiber.
And while it's the extreme baby namers that get all the attention, a surprising number of other celebs have made traditional choices as well, including Kelly Preston and John Travolta (Benjamin), Jennifer Hudson (David), Jon Bon Jovi (Jacob), Jon Stewart (Nathan), and Chris Daughty (Noah).
By giving Samuel his mom's maiden name, the Afflecks followed another long tradition, one that is very much alive today in Hollywood and everywhere else—Howard for Bryce Dallas Howard's son Theodore, Russell for Keri Russell's boy River, and Spencer for Tennyson and Charles, sons of Russell Crowe and Danielle Spencer.
With the old-fashioned but neglected Violet and Seraphina, the pair proved to be trendsetters. Violet has moved rapidly up the popularity lists to Number 123, and Seraphina is being increasingly considered by parents.
Photo: Jennifer Garner at the 12th Annual Critics' Choice Awards via Featureflash / Shutterstock.com
Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran are the creators of the baby name site Nameberry and the authors of ten bestselling books about names, including Cool Names for Babies and The Baby Name Bible.