celebrity baby names, famous namesakes, Greek names, Irish names, nicknames, popular culture, saints names, unisex names
The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts was established last year as a subsidiary of the Australian Film Institute; its job is to administer the AACTA Awards, which replace the old AFI Awards. Every news report on television seemed to feel it necessary to point out that AACTA is said just like the word actor, which I think most of us would have understood without help, seeing as they just said it aloud to us.
The Australian Academy has been deliberately set up in a similar way to the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the awards ceremony has been moved to late January, in order to fit in with the prize-giving season in the United States, which holds the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards in January and February. The AACTA Awards ceremony has been moved to Sydney and held at the Opera House, possibly because that seems more Hollywood than Melbourne. The AACTA statuette has also been remodelled, with some commenting that it looks like a flamboyant Australian Oscar.
Amongst the prize-winners was Asher Keddie, who won the Switched on Audience Choice Award for Best Performance in a Television Drama, for her role as Ita Buttrose in the mini-series Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo. I must confess to not voting in this contest, or even knowing it existed until too late (obviously I’m not a very switched on audience member), but I do approve of the choice, as I thought Ms Keddie did an excellent job of portraying famous editor, Ms Buttrose.
Ita Buttrose, like Barry Humphries and Father Bob, is another super septuagenarian. She was named after her maternal grandmother, Ita Clare Rodgers (nee Rosenthal). Her ambition since the age of 11 was to be a journalist, and she began working as a copy girl at 15. Ita was a force in the Australian media for many years, including as youngest editor of The Australian Woman’s Weekly, the largest magazine in Australia. She became the first woman to edit a major metropolitan newspaper, the Daily Telegraph. Always perfectly presented, cultured and refined, she is instantly recognisable for her trademark lisp. She’s been granted several awards and honours, and supports a multitude of causes, from AIDS to Alzheimer’s. Ita is also an author of many practical books; her latest is a guide to etiquette.
Ita (IE-ta) is an Anglicisation of the Irish name Íte (EE-ta). Saint Ita of Killeedy was a 6th century Irish nun who headed a community of women. One of their tasks was to run a school for small boys; among her students was Saint Brendan the Navigator. According to tradition, Ita was of royal blood and baptised Deirdre; the name Ita she chose herself from the Old Irish word ítu, “thirst”. This was to signify her thirst for divine goodness. Today it sounds mildly vampiric.
Ita Buttrose became the founding editor of Cleo magazine in 1972, and made it an instant success – the first edition sold out in two days. Cleo was something new in Australian publishing: a magazine for women that spoke openly about sexuality. There were articles on masturbation, abortion, contraception and sex toys, and a nude centrefold – the first model for the centrefold was actor Jack Thompson. It made the sexual revolution accessible to the average woman. In Paper Giants, the title Cleopatra is suggested for the magazine, as befitting a strong yet sexual woman, but Cleo is chosen because it fits better on the masthead. It intrigues me that Cleo sounds similar to Ita’s middle name – Clare – and wonder whether she unconsciously selected a title that sounded like her own name. Cleo is also the name of Ita’s pet dog (Clare is her grand-daughter).
Cleo is usually thought of as being a short form of Cleopatra, but it can be short for any name beginning with Cleo-, such as Cleophas. It is therefore a unisex name, and there are several prominent men named Cleo, including American motorcyclist and World War I flying ace Cleo Pineau. The father of Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia murder victim, was named Cleo. It is from the Greek for “glory, fame, pride”. This gorgeous little name is right on trend for o-enders, and was also a celebrity baby name last year. It would make a great alternative to popular Chloe.
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I like cleo except for link to the mag.
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I know a cleo and her parents must love nicknamey names as her sister is Lexi
I love the sound of Cleo and think it’s sassy, interesting and sufficiently unique. I also like that it was popular around the 20s – I like the revival aspect. It’s currently our front runner if we have a girl (due Sept).
I have two reservations: 1. Is the Cleo magazine so prominent in Aussie teen culture and well known generally that it detracts from the name? No one wants to be named after a magazine. 2. I’ve heard of a few cats called Cleo. Should it be left for the felines?
Would appreciate any feedback! I’m hoping my reservations are completely unnecessary. Hubby and I really like the name. Do I just need to get over those misconceptions, or do they hold some merit?
Well I just love Cleo and think it’s a wonderful name, so please excuse bias!
1. I searched through Australian name/parenting forums to see if anyone brought up the magazine. On each thread, on or two people did, but they were greatly out-numbered by people who didn’t think it mattered a bit. One mum-to-be said that the magazine seemed to come up every time she mentioned the name Cleo, but someone else suggested that “Paper Giants” had put the magazine at the forefront of the popular consciousness, and that this would not last. This seemed a reasonable assumption to me.
(Harry Kewell recently welcomed a daughter named Dolly, a popular teen magazine, so there’s another celebrity baby with a “magazine name”!)
Personally, I think the magazine does give the name a slightly “sexy” image, but then, so does the real person Cleopatra. I think it also sounds strong and elegant in a 1920s way, and appears feminine without being at all girly or frilly.
If really worried, you could go with Clio or Clea, but tbh, I think the kind of people who would mention the magazine probably would anyway, even with a different but similar name.
2. If you are concerned about pet names maybe you should read my latest post! Or maybe not …
I tend to think the sort of person who would say it was a “magazine name” or a “pet name” is just too silly to be worth caring for their opinion. I wouldn’t base my decision on what they thought, but on your own feelings and beliefs.
If you and your husband both love the same name (miracle!), then my advice would be to keep that name on the shortlist at least.
Happy pregnancy! 🙂
Nook of Names said:
I’d love to hear Cleo more often! Definitely “on trend” as they say 🙂
I didn’t know Cleo could also be a man’s name, but if you think of it as Leo without the C, it makes perfect sense.
Ita is a new discovery for me. I see it’s potential. Ava, morphs to Ada, then Ida, then Ita and Iva. Or, I can see it as Rita without the R. I rather like the idea of a three letter name with a t in the middle.
I think Ita would be very usable – except maybe in Australia, where Ita Buttrose has almost claimed this as her own. She is so well known that she is often called by her first name only, so it would be a little like calling your child Madonna or Oprah.
Outside Australia, I think it fits in very well with current name trends.
Awkward Turtle said:
I didn’t know Cleo could be male too! I quite like that, although it would be difficult to use.
It’s a bold choice for a boy, for sure. Historically in the US it seems like a fairly upper class sort of name for men, and it is still being used now – perhaps more in the African-American community, based on currently famous men named Cleo.