What Comes to Mind When You Hear the Name Bambi?

A Wall St. Journal article about a Hollywood stockbroker whose license was suspended caught my eye—when I looked at the photo (that accompanied the article) and was informed by the caption that the broker’s name was Bambi.

The first thing I did after reading the article was to pick up a copy of The New Baby Name Survey, a book I co-authored with consumer-research expert, Barry Sinrod, many years ago. In a large-scale consumer research survey that went out to 100,000 adults, we asked respondents to tell us what came to mind when they thought of the name Bambi (and about 1,750 other names).

Here’s what our respondents told us: “Disney’s Bambi was an innocent fawn, but a woman with this name is probably far from innocent. People think of Bambi as a ditzy and bubbly bimbo. It’s most likely a stage name for a hooker or stripper.”

Reading the Journal article, I discovered that a real woman named Bambi…

“spent decades as a financial broker to Hollywood’s rich and famous, dispensing advice from her offices in Beverly Hills California. She wrote financial self-help books and frequently appeared on television. But she had another claim to fame: reaching the top 10 among 550,000 brokers with the highest number of customer complaints.”

I’ve always been on the lookout for news articles that presented stories which indicated some kind of relationship between names and behavior. For example–an item in the news about Thomas Crapper of Crapper, Ltd. Toilets in London who entitled his autobiography “Flushed with Pride.”

I found it noteworthy that Madonna, a superstar with a pious, saintly name, had a well-earned reputation for “romantic escapades” which were not remotely “pious” or “saintly.” I found it noteworthy when I drove past strip joints which featured “Bambi” on their marquee as a star performer. Which explains why I find a real-world example of a Hollywood broker named Bambi who is alleged to have “screwed” scores of (64) big-name clients, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her husband, Brad Hall.

There may be some girls named “Chastity” who live up to that ideal, though once they get married and have a family, the name becomes ludicrous (if it wasn’t already a joke). So the idea of parents trying to “legislate” morality by giving their daughters names that imply chastity, piety or innocence is likely to produce the exact opposite effect than the one intended.

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