Marion and Tabitha: Behind the Parker-Broderick's Name Choices

06/24/2009 at 08:00 AM ET
Paul Schmulbach/Globe Photos

The birth of twins Marion Loretta Elwell and Tabitha Hodge by surrogate on Monday afternoon had the CBB comments hopping! Among the congratulatory messages for Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick was a divisive discussion about the girls’ names — some loved, some hated, and some were reminded of their pet cats! We spoke to Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran, authors of Beyond Ada & Aiden and webmistresses of about the history behind the names. Here are their thoughts:

“Sarah Jessica is known for her individual style, and wouldn’t be expected to simply follow current trends — after all, she and husband Matthew named their first child the classic James. So, while many parents claim to want names that are ‘unique,’ the couple managed to come up with a pair that are truly distinctive, that sound cool and yet are not overused or gimmicky.

Unlike parents who seek similar names for their twins — especially same-sex pairs! — Sarah Jessica and Matthew have opted for names that are very different, almost opposite in style and feel. What they do have in common is that neither is particularly popular or trendy right now — in fact, Marion peaked way back in the 1880s.

A French medieval variation of Marie, Marion has a solid, serious image, and is the kind of traditional name more and more parents are starting to reconsider these days. Tabitha, a New Testament name that came onto the American baby-name radar following the introduction of the cute little girl with supernatural powers on the TV show Bewitched, still retains some of her slightly quirky charm.

It’s a little unusual for twins not to be given the same number of names — Marion has two middles and Tabitha just one, with both Elwell and Hodge coming from the actress’ family tree.

In terms of sound, both names have three syllables and a soft ‘a’ sound, making them consistent in that respect — if a bit of a mouthful when they’re being called in for dinner!”

What are your thoughts on the Broderick babies’ names?


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girlJordan on

I’m not a fan at all. Marion is too old fashioned and I’ve never understood the appeal of Tabitha (it’s a cat’s name to me!) and I hate hate hate that Marion has 2 middle names, while Tabitha only has one. Couldn’t they have come up with another name for Tabitha?

That being said, at least they didn’t call them Pilot Inspektor or Apple!

jessie on

i like the name tabitha, but i wonder why marion has two middle names

Lis on

I’m disappointed with them 😦 I know it sounds silly, and they’re not my babies, but I just expected so much more! And the difference of number of middle names is especially odd to me.

Maybe these names will grow on me…???? Regardless, I have no doubt that they will be beautiful and very, very well-loved!

carolina on

at first glance i didn’t really like the names, but now i really do like them! i don’t understand why people think marion is oldfashioned. what is old fashioned anyway, a name that has history. is elizabeth old fashioned?

Helen on

i’m french and Marion is very very popular here, so i really don’t know what to think about that name. I have no idea how they will pronounce it ( Mary-on? or actually MARI-ioN?)
What i think is odd is that the names are so diffenrent, i’m not saying that you should name your twins James and John or Ella and Emma but still..
Tabitha is ok i guess, but i’m not a big fan.
I hate all their middles names, sorry… on

I’m not a fan of the names, but who cares about my opinion?! πŸ™‚ The parents love them and soon enough we’ll see photos of the little girls and won’t be able to picture them with any other names! I love how children grow into their names! Congrats to them!

brannon on

LOVE them! I love classic names that everyone has heard of but you rarely hear – guess that’s why i have an oliver and am hoping for an adelaide one day πŸ™‚ perhaps they think of Marion Loretta as one name — like Mary Elizabeth? who knows? their babies and they’re happy – all that matters! beautiful.

madison on

I like them. They aren’t trendy, or matchy-matchy, or worst of all weird. I also like old-fashioned or clasic names though – my own name is old fashioned (no, my name isn’t madison). I disliked it as a child but have come to really appreciate it as I’ve gotten older.

Millikate on

I like the name Tabitha and I like that they incorporated family names for their middle, but Marion is not my style and I agree with the poster above. Both James and Marion have 3 names each, why not Tabitha?

MammaDucky on

I like that they stuck with “normal” names. The middle names may seem odd to some, but the article noted that they come from Sarah’s family tree, which is awesome! My hubby and son have a family name for a middle name and while others may find it odd, I am honored to carry on the family tradition.

Sanja on

While they’re not names I’d use for my children, I like that they’re normal, everyone has heard them and they’re not ‘matchy’ (I know twins named Tina & Nina, Michael & Michaela, etc.).

I’ll take Tabitha and Marion (prefer Marian) over Bronx, Moxie or Zuma any day. In fact I plan to name my daughter Barbara, after my grandmother, and everyone thins it’s horrible.

I wonder, since both James and Wilkie are honoring, if all the girls’ names are honoring (maybe the surogate?)

nicky on

Maybe old-fashioned names are making a comeback?
The names are alright I suppose, I expected something a little more trendy or classic from Sarah Jessica. James Wilkie was very nice! Regardless, Congrats to them!!

Tabatha on

My name is Tabatha a different spelling of Tabitha but my mom didnt decided on my name because of bewitched she has found it when she was a small girl in the 60’s while in sunday school and held onto it until I was born in the 80’s. I love my name it is unique and original specially with the spelling. I have not seen many people with my spelling and I love it.

Anna on

I think it’s none of our business to judge their babies’ names.

JC on

How do I feel? It doesn’t matter how I or anyone else besids Sarah Jessica and Matthew feel about the names. No one else needs to like the names because they are not their kids.

T on

My name is Tabitha so it is too cool:)

Ellen on

I think the current and future teachers of the world would like more people to take a leaf out of the Broderick-Parker book. In 5 years time there will be at least 2-3 Mason’s, Braydon’s, Dylan’s, Ava’s and Madison’s per class although it will pale in comparison with the number of Max’s and Jacks’s.

Tabitha and Marion WERE old-fashioned names, now they are original.

They have done their children a HUGE favour by giving them normal names. Apple and Zuma can only look on with envy…..

IAinND on

OK, anyone else thinking Marion might have been influenced by Matthew being in “The Music Man”? πŸ™‚ I start humming the Marion the Librarian song just hearing the name….

AMY on

not very fond of these names. bet they will call them Mari & Tabi

Anna on

I like both names, especially Marion.

Kaylie on

Personally, I don’t really care for either of the girls names. I feel Marion is outdated and Tabitha just makes me think of the witch from Passions!

Jaye on

They are not names I would have thought of for my babies but I really really like them and they flow very nicely. I have a feeling that little Marion has two middle names because Loretta Elwell is the complete name for someone in the family. The names sound so graceful, important, established and distinguished. May God bless their family!

Amie on

I think the names are beautiful. For people who don’t like the names; at least they gave their children real names. Be thankful it wasn’t something outrageous like Sewer Pipe or Box Cutter Broderick. πŸ™‚

Sarah on

I know two Tabitha’s SJP isn’t as much of a trend-setter as she’d like to think.

karlie on

I hate the names and, I truly hate the fact that one has 3 names and the other only 2. I’m a twin and I know she will feel less important than the other one. Why would parents do this? Couldn’t they think of something to go with Tabitha? Its not like the names sound good to begin with just pick something so that they are equal. Why start them out in life already one “better” than the other? Terrible.

cΓ©cile on

Funny, but to me Marion only brings out good memories since it’s the female character’s name in Raiders of the Lost Ark (Marion Ravenwood played by Karen Allen).She was the best female character of all the Indiana Jones movies, vivacious, funny and tough,far from an old lady. So the name Marion is definitely associated with childhood memories of a great adventure movie to me.This news just makes me want to watch it once again.

rb on

They became new parents to a couple of grandmothers.

Millie on

Doesn’t their son have one middle name? So Tabitha will match him more than feeling left out. And I don’t think its going to cause her much heart ache, who actually uses middle names any way?

Alex on

There are some really harsh comments coming out of this news, and it’s really really sad.

Personally, i think SJP and MB have picked two solid names for their new babies. I think they’re good names that can grow with a person, and both can be shortened for ‘cutesy’ names. Also think it’s wonderful that SJPs family is honored. i’m sure in a few months time they’ll be plenty of the ‘their names have really grown on me!’ comments.

However, can we not lose sight of the fact that this is a couple who have tried for years to extend their family. These babies were so wanted.

Rebeca on

Thank God we have the choice and the right to name our children whatever the heck we choose, I’m truly HAPPY for the couple and I wish them the very best.

Jill on

ha! sewer pipe and boxcutter! i am still laughing out loud at that one.

(and I really like the names! congrats)

Cece on

I think they’re beautiful and oldfashioned names. Considering there are names out there like “Moxie Crime Fighter” these are actually quite normal!

Abby on

Marion is a family middle name and I do really like it, but would never use it as a first name myself.I am definitely a fan of maternal-side surnames being used as missle names as well. The name Tabitha is not and will never be on my radar, though.

laura on

there was an interview with SJP in new york magazine last summer where she said she was really influenced by the victorian era, and that influenced her son’s name, so i’m guessing it influenced these names as well.

Megan on

This is one of the few celebs in a long time who’s babies names I love. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Sarah Jessica Parker. They’re traditional yet quirky. Love it.

jay on

I can’t get over people who feel the need to say they don’t like the names. Not our kids, not our choice! Personally, I think they are both lovely. Congrats to the parents!

karlie on

well, it doesn’t say leave your comment only if you like the names

Kylie on

Would NEVER name my children those names, but whatever. Marion is a unisex name and for that reason alone I would never use it. Poor kiddos.

Melanie on

Horrible names…..

Mikey on

It may not say leave a comment only if you like the name, but it’s not always necessary to comment that one doesn’t like a name. It’s pointless; the children are named. I with them all well.

Alice on

Brannon, I thought of that also. The Olsen twins were named Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Fuller Olsen, so it appears one has a middle name and the other none at all.

UggaMugga, I also agree that names tend to grow on a person after a while and these names probably will also.

In my family all the kids except the youngest (my twin sister) have family names for middle names. We always liked having those names that actually meant something rather than the usual middle name every other girl in my generation seemed to have, Ann.

Jan on

Not a fan of either name… but I prefer Tabitha to Marion. You never know… Marion might opt to be called Lori for Loretta instead… or simply Mari or Marie. Poor Tabitha doesn’t really have an alternative without sounding like a pussy cat. Tabbi perhaps? Kids will find a nickname regardless of what we adults think… so it will be interesting to hear a child’s opinion on these names. But regardless, am sure they are both just precious! And they will be lovely little ladies with a mommy like SJ. Am thrilled for their growing family. Sending tons of congrats and hugs on the birth of your daughters!

Sharon Hunter on

Well, I like Marion and at first with their Broadway backgrounds, I thought she was named after Marion the librarian from The Music Man. And that may be. But one of them must have been a HUGE fan of Bewitched growing up. Strange. But then what celebrity isn’t.

Mary-Helen on

They’re not what I would name my daughters but they sound nice with James and they’re not Banana or Orange Crayon or anything stupid like that. I think SJP & Matthew came up with names that work with their eldest’s name so it sounds like a nice little family.

mya on

I don’t care for Marion, and little Marion won’t like it either. It reminds me of Julia Robert’s “Hazel”…these poor girls!

Tabi on

I’ve always enjoyed being slightly different, but not DIFFERENT. No one needed me to repeat my name when I told them, so it wasn’t off the wall. But I never had to go by my last initial, like all the Jennifer, Ashley, Jessica’s out there. I liked it that way…made my name fit with my personality. πŸ™‚

bumblebeebree on

I Love the names! Diffrent and not heard of, very nice! Congrats to them!

Name on

Not a fan of either name, but at least these kids will not be teased for their names. The new trend that so many celebrities (including those who are worshipped religiously on this site) have of giving their kids the stupidest names is absurd – kind of like the Seinfeld episode where George would like to name his kid Seven and Jerry says “Seven periods of school, seven beatings a day. Roughly seven stitches a beating, and eventually seven years to life.” There is a fine line between exotic and cruel. Imagine, a celebrity couple who gave all 3 of their children “plain” names. Good for them for not calling them something like crazy like “Toyota Lamp Broderick” and “Cucumber Bumper Broderick”

Marion on

As Helen was saying above, Marion is/was pretty common in France.
I have never been a fan of my name, but I actually feel proud to see that it was chosen for a new baby girl!!I live in England and people tend to call me Marian here. I am not too keen on Tabitha,it just reminds me of Bewitched, but I’m sure it will grow on me

Bet these girls are very cute!
Congrats to both.

Caroline on

I like them – I think they’re classic.

karlie – Why you think that Tabitha will feel like she’s less important than her sister because she only has one middle name. (This is not criticism – I’m genuinely curious). Maybe in some families this is a bigger deal than it is in my family – we run the gamut from no middle names to 3 middle names and its never been an issue.

Marion on

My name is marion and I love my name. I have never met another Marion beside my aunt in my life. I love having a unique and uncommon name, it makes me feel special. And just so you know I am 18 not 75.

I also know a Tabitha, she is my age a she loves her name as well.

Fauve on

I love the name Marion! It makes me think of Maid Marian, of the Robin Hood legend, whos name is derived from the french name Marion πŸ™‚

ellen on

I don’t know where people think they have the right to say the names 2 parents have chosen for their newborns are “horrible” or “awful”.

I would guess the people that made those comments would think Mason and Madison were better names *rolleyes*

BH on

Good grief. Lots of negativity here. A bit of an over reaction maybe?

I named my daughter Tabitha and a few people felt the need to tell me how much they didn’t like it at the time, although thankfully with a little more tact than some people commenting here! That said, now she is almost 5 they’ve grown to love it almost as much as they love her, and nobody can imagine her being called anything else. Yes, they shorten it to Tabbie – but she’s perfectly happy with that so it’s fine with me.

As for it being a cat’s name – I hear that every now and again, but who cares? There are plenty of kids called Tom out there too but that never seems to bother anyone!

Good luck to the family.

Chris on

I think the names suit their family. I can’t explain it, they just do!

Valerie on

I think they’re sweet sounding names and to me, both are very feminine! Congrats to this gorgeous family!

ab on

I like the names! tabitha is very pretty, and marion is unique. and like others have mentioned, common in other countries (consider marion cotillard, the french actress).

Lauren on

I will admit that the name Marion is cute to me because of Matthew’s role in The Music Man and the fact that I’m a huge fan of Kristin Chenoweth, who played Marion alongside him. Beyond that, I don’t like the names at all. It’s not the fact that they’re old-fashioned-it’s the fact that they’re outdatedly so. Adelaide Rose, Helena Grace, and Vivienne Marcheline are three more classic celebrity baby girl names I think are gorgeous because they’re timelessly elegant. Marion and Tabitha just smack of Nana. Madeline (or preferably Marcheline) and Tallulah, while still not my favorite names, would been far better choices imo.

anna on

Lauren. You suggested Marcheline and Tallulah at the end. I dont think many people would want the assocation with Angelina’s mom and Demi’s daughter. The names are ok.

Lauren on

^Wow. I was unuaware that no one besides Angelina Jolie’s mother and Demi Moore’s daughter has ever had those names. Someone call Tallulah Bankhead and tell her there was a misunderstanding! Oh, wait…

Jenny on

I’m not a fan of the names at all. I do like that they honored family members with the middle names.. but I just don’t care for Marion and Tabitha… especially Marion. It’s also weird to me that one of the twins has two middle names. To each his own. You can’t please everyone!

SweetDiva on

It’s one trend that SJP is on that I definitely will not be following.

lizzielui on

Mya, How on Earth do you know that her daughter will not like the name Marion? That is just the silliest thing ever. And why on Earth would people think that SJP would be trying to please them and others with what she chooses to name HER babies? (i.e. “Oh well, you can’t please everyone” or “I am soooo disappointed with these name choices”) Again, to be outraged over what someone you do not know chooses to name their child is mind boggling to me.

Mikey on

Ah BH I know where you are coming from! I named my daughter Natasha and people were very quick to tell me they didn’t like it and I should reconsider. Remember Boris and Natasha? Heard that enough times. She’s 18 now and loves her name. I guess I’m a little sensitive to all the negative comments regarding the twins names. If you don’t like it, don’t give the name to your child.

Kirsha on

Though I didn’t read all the post from the other people, I am in agreement with them. It isn’t my place to criticize what they choice to name their twins. Personally they are names I wouldn’t have thought of when naming my children. In the same breath I am like them. I did name my child in honor of a person I knew that had past away at an early age(17).

Bex on

I love Tabitha. I’m not crazy about Marion, but it’s a nice, normal name.

vixen on

I like both Tabitha and Marion, and as others have said, they have the right to name their children what they like. I am very pleased they have been able to have the girls after their fertility difficulties.

However I do think it is strange to give twins a different number of names, particularly when only one of them has another feminine-sounding name AND the nicer of the two family names. It just seems a little out of balance.

Tabitha on

I never knew so many people disliked the name “Tabitha”. That’s my name and I happen to like it.

Sheri on

Personally I do not care for either of these names but it is none of my business. Just responding to the question. Of all the beautiful names out there…. poor kids. And I agree w/one of the others who wrote “poor Hazel” (Julia Roberts little girl). I agree!!!! Would they like these names for themselves???

Meghan on

I think both choices are timeless and beautiful. “Marion” seems a little severe for a child, but she’ll definitely grow into it, and she can always go by “Mary” or “Marie”. “Tabitha” was always one of my favorite names; you don’t hear it that much anymore, which is a shame. I’m glad these kids were given wholesome names as opposed to made-up or poorly chosen ones (I’m still hung up on T-Pain’s children’s unpronouncable monikers and Charlie Sheen’s weird choice of “Bob” for a baby’s given name).

Golightly on

I quite like both names…they do remind me a tad of Marion Cunningham from Happy days and obviously, Tabitha from Bewitched…very 1950’s ring to both names which could be reflective of Sarah Jessica’s style. Whatever the name origins, they are both classic names and will age nicely with the girls as they grow.

Mina on

Beautiful names! I cant wait to see the girls!

Do you realize how lucky they are?! Their mom is not only a fantastic person, she has ALL those clothes & accessory things to give them!

Mey on

Hate them :(. I’m pretty generous with names which are at least okay… but not these. I love classic names, too, but the words Marion & Tabitha.. they just don’t sound pretty at all. I’ve always hated Tabitha, though (even though I LOVED bewitched, and was heartbroken when my cousin named her daughter that. 5 years later, it’s never sounded any better. Marion is.. severe, and old fashion in the very dated, not timeless way. The middle names… what, just family last names? Its a goode idea, but one should also make sure they FIT with the first names, and are decent names on their own. 😦 Ick. I’m sure they will be beautiful & wonderful kids, though πŸ™‚

traxie on

Love them. Not at all what I was expecting – I thought she’d go classic like they did with James – but they’re just brilliant. I predict that SJP will spark a new trend with these two.

dizz on

I love old fashioned names like Marion. sounds like a an old fashioned porcelain doll.
and Tabitha is such a cute name. I have an old friend named Tabitha too

StephMom on

Well, given that most of America likes names like Kaylee, Madison and Mackenzie – I don’t doubt that most readers here dislike these names. Personally, I like Marion, although would have preferred it in French like Marianne. Tabitha is ok, but maybe less elegant that Marion. Kudos to the Parker-Brodericks for not picking mainstream (i.e. soon to be dated names like the ones I listed above) monikers!

Maddie on

I find Tabitha less of a surprise than Marion. And I think that far from being too “outdated”, SJP may be ahead of the curve with “Marian” and not outdated enough! The classic names we all currently love are from earlier in the 20th century (I have a little Clara and Edward of my own), but I bet the next wave of comebacks will be Marion-type names from the 50s, etc (or what I think of as “Marion” names, like Barbara and Linda and Doreen)…

Margot on

The only thing that strikes me as a little odd is the whole Marion-gets-three-names-but-Tabitha-only-gets-two thing. I mean, if I were Tabitha in about 13 years, I’d be wanting to know why my parents apparently couldn’t be bothered thinking of another middle name for me. My uncle, the fifth of six children, is the only one who does not have a middle name, and he is actually quite hurt that his parents just couldn’t be bothered thinking of something – even a generic ‘John’ or another, equally overused middle moniker – so that he could be like his siblings. This seems innocuous, but it might come back to bite them in the form of a hurt Tabitha in years to come.

Other than that, I actually like both first names, and Loretta. Less sure about the family names, but hey, if they have meaning, run with it. Isn’t that how James Wilke (Wilkie? I’m never sure about that second i), got his middle name? A family name?

Stella Bella on

I’d never use these names myself, but I like them well enough. I’m sure Hazel, Florence, Marion and Tabitha will be all the rage in about 5 years… I think people dislike them because you would just never expect SJP to use them.

Jane on

Perhaps Tabitha does have a second middle name, the surrogate mother’s middle name, and the Parker Brodericks just haven’t released it to respect her privacy?

I like them both, so much better than Bronx Mowgli or Peanut!

Lioness on

I’m not sure what people were expecting- I mean, their son’s name is James. Says everything about their name choices to me, lol. Anyway, Tabitha isn’t so bad, and I don’t really mind that one has two middle names and the other doesn’t- it’s not like they have to follow some name formula or something. But Marion or Loretta I’ve never liked.

Terri on

I love the name Tabitha.

Ali on

“Tabitha Hodge” totally has the sound of a children’s book character πŸ™‚ It always reminds me of a Peter Rabbit & Friends character.

Laurel on

Yuck, and yuck. Sorry, but really, yuck!

Marion on

I am another 20-year-old Marion from France. Super popular name in the late 80s in France so I find it funny to read that it’s a grandma name in the US.

MiB on

I love their first names! And as a friend of mine said after she was critizised for choosing an “old mans name” for her son “Maybe it’s because that’s what I want him to become one day!”

With regards to the different numbers of middle names, my mother is the youngest of five: three of them have a middle name, two of them don’t and the only one who has complained about her name is my mom, and her complaint was, that her name wasn’t picked especially for her (she was an oops! twin, so her twin sister got the chosen name and she was named after her grandmothers). No one in the family can remember any of the 2 sisters without a middle name (one of them is my mothers twin sister) questioning why they didn’t get a middle name.

TabithasMom on

SJP stole that name from me. My Tabitha and I ran into her in NYC last year. I suppose I should feel honored, but I feel ripped off.

MariAn spelled correctly on

Marion/Marian has been used for years as a name for girls or boys. However, the correct spelling for a girl is Marian, while a male is Marion. I am not surprised at the name SJP selected, just the spelling. All the best to them.

Marion on

I love my name and the spelling. Shame on those people that are knocking the names. They are not your children, so who cares what you think. It just goes to show, people are never happy. All they do is find fault. Congrats to the new parents.