Nine Famous Women With Men’s Names

Glenn Close

Sorry, faithful readers, but after writing my last List of 9 I went to Spain for ten days, only to come home to a large (and certainly welcome) freelance writing gig that is taking up all my time this month. So I only have a moment to add a new list, a follow-up to my list of Nine Famous Men With Women's Names. The busyness will continue through mid-June, after which I should be able to return to more elaborately written lists. Anyway, while many women today have androgynous names like Pat, Chris, or Alex, the following nine sound decidedly masculine:

  1. GEORGE ELIOT, writer. Born Mary Anne Evans, the 19th century author of Middlemarch was one of several female scribes who assumed male pen names in order to be taken more seriously in the sexist literary world of the time. The trend is evident even today, where women authors – often those who write stories with male protagonists – hide their first names by using initials instead (such as S.E. Hinton and J.K. Rowling).
  2. MICHAEL LEARNED, actress. Emmy-winning star of several TV shows, most notably The Waltons and her own short-lived series Nurse.
  3. DARYL HANNAH, actress. After over 70 credits on screens large and small, she is still best known as the mermaid in 1984's Splash.
  4. STEVIE NICKS, singer/songwriter. The Fleetwood Mac star (Stevie is short for Stephanie) probably shared some woes about gender-bending names with her male colleague Lindsay Buckingham.
  5. SEAN YOUNG, actress. The leading lady of '80s films including Blade Runner, Wall Street, and No Way Out lost her starring role in 1989's Batman because of an injury while riding a horse. Her career – and, some say, her sanity – never fully recovered.
  6. RADCLYFFE HALL, writer. Lesbian author of 1928's The Well of Loneliness, she dropped her first name Marguerite early in her career. Not that there are many men named Radclyffe.
  7. GENE TIERNEY, actress. The star of Laura alongside Dana Andrews (a man), Tierney contributed great performances to the classic films Leave Her to Heaven, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and Night and the City, all worth seeking out. Sadly, a severe bout with depression effectively ended her A-list reign.
  8. GLENN CLOSE, actress. The esteemed star of Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, and, uh, 101 Dalmations, as well as the TV series Damages, doesn't seem to have suffered from her butch moniker.
  9. CAMERON DIAZ, actress. As we enter the current era, the relatively recent fad of going out of one's way to give one's baby an unusual name is evidenced by this top Hollywood star. See also: Blake Lively, James/Jaime King, Hayden Panitierre, Jordin Sparks...