Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

How to pronounce those difficult names . . .


Recommended Posts

This subject has been proposed elsewhere on the boards, so let's get it started!

Having once been the Robert Osborne of my college town, I put in a lot of research into the proper pronunciation of certain Hollywood names, and received some polite correction at times. I'm going to start with a few names I've occasionally heard mangled on TCM in recent months, and let you add your own:


Frank Borzage bor-ZAY-gee

William Dieterle DEE-ter-lee

Dashiell Hammett dash'l

Sessue Hayakawa SES-su

Anita Loos rhymes with "dose"

Thomas Meighan as in "me an' him"

Maria Ouspenkaya oo-spen-SKY-ya

Franchot Tone FRAN-show

Perc Westmore persh (he once said "I'm not a cup of coffee.")


Also, feel free to ask how to pronounce any difficult names. Having grown up in an intensely ethnic neighborhood (where I learned how to pronounce names with no vowels), I can at least offer some educated guesses!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually, it's Loos as in "loose," and Perc as in "purse."


Miss Wynter pronounces her given name DAH-nah.


And it's definitely George Sanders. A lot of people pronounce it "Saunders" but, being mainly Americans, they can't speak English, anyway.


Message was edited by:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you may be right about Perc Westmore, since his professional name is a shortened form of Percival.


But Anita Loos's last name does rhyme with "dose." Loos herself wrote a quatrain for The Literary Digest in 1936 in which she bemoaned the mispronunciation of her name as "loose," and said it actually rhymes with "dose" (she used that very word). I had this confirmed by her grandnephew Rob Loos, whom I met when he stayed at the hotel where I work. He told me it's an old Dutch name, and his family often uses the mispronunciation of the name to tell family members from "outsiders."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

CoffeeDan, thanks for sharing this information!


Do you by any chance know the correct pronunciation of Bebe Daniels's first name? Some people think it's "Beeb," or "Bay-BAY," but I've always thought it was "BEE-bee."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great Thread Coffeedan!!!


I remember reading also that Hedy Lamarr's first name rhymes with "Lady"


When I was a kid and being a native Spanish speaker, I was startled when I read about the correct pronunciation of certain Irish/Scottish names of actors like Sean (Shawn?) Connery or Siobhan (Shivaun?) McKenna...


I love this topic!!


I also love the way the English pronounce Leicester (Ls'ter?) and Gloucester (Gl'ster?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Glad to help out, Midge. (Sorry for the delay, but I just got back from vacation!)


In this country, I've never heard Ms. Daniels' name pronounced any other way but "Beebee."


I heard Suzanne Lloyd say that her grandfather, Harold Lloyd, called her "Beeb," but it was obviously a pet name (they were in love and almost married at one time), and not the actual pronunciation.


I can't verify this, but I seem to remember a BBC radio broadcast where the announcer pronounced her name as "Baby" Daniels. Again, that may be idiomatic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
  • 4 months later...

Awesome thread. Thanks Mongo for pulling this up. I wasn't on board yet when it was running. Anyway, Coffeedan (or anyone else), how's about Mischa Auer and Signe Hasso? Also:


Akim Tamiroff

James Flavin (Is it like hay or haw?)

Rhys Williams

Arthur Treacher (Does it rhyme with teacher?)

Nestor Paiva

Hugo Haas (Is it like hassle or hoss?)

Eric von Stroheim (I've heard many renditions.)

H. T. Tsiang (Is it like sang?)

Osa Massen

Vera Hruba Ralston

Nils Asther (Is it like nill or Nile?)

Louis Jean Heydt (Is it like hate?)


Thanks for any help. I can't stand not knowing how to pronounce someone's name.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will venture as to the pronunciation of some of these names [i will [b]gladly[/b] stand to be corrected - this is a place for learning/education, after all...]


Our Swedish friend - well, I will pass but I lean toward SEE-nya HAW-so for now.


MEE-sha OW-er


Ah-KEEM TAM-ee-roff


-pass-...James FLAY-vin would be my educated guess here...


REESE Williams


Arthur Treacher does rhyme with "Teacher"


-pass-...you say "PIE-va"; I say "Pie-EVA", maybe...


For Hugo, it's closer to "hoss" than to the "a" sound in "hat"...


Eric von STRO-hie'm...


H.T.'s surname starts with "ts" as in "tsar" or "tsetse fly", with "yang" [rhymes with "hang"] after it


-pass- although OH-sa MASS-in works for me, until a correction comes...


The "H" is silent in Vera's middle name...


NILLs - I would say - rather than NILEs. As to the last name, the "H" might be silent here as well, like the flower [but no relation to Mary...]


L. J.'s last name rhymes with "white". As for his first and middle names...I've tended to pronounce them more in a French way rather than "Lewis Gene" but I could be wrong...


I will exit the realm of speculation for now and let others comment and/or enquire...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the feedback Wordmaster. That's how I've been pronouncing most of them, but I was afraid I might have been anglicizing them a little too much. For Mischa Auer, I always thought it was MEE-sha, but recently I've heard of someone new in the spotlight (I'm not sure if it's a male or female, nor do I care) who pronounces their name with a short I, like in Michigan. As for the last name, I've always said AWE-er, so thanks for straightening me out. And, for Louis Jean Heydt, I've always gone with the French pronunciation for the first two names. Thanks for the help.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No problem, Gerb.


It's nice to talk with you.


Re: Mischa Auer:


Mischa is a man's name. It is the diminutive/colloquial form of the Russian name Mikhail [but I don't know if Gorbachev was ever called this when he was a boy, or around the water cooler]. Just as our Michael has Mike, Mikhail has Mischa; similarly, Alexander has Sasha/Sascha [the English analogue would be Alexander/Alex/Sandy], and so on. MEE-sha more closely parallels the Russian pronunciation than would MISH-a. The last name for me rhymes with "flower" or the German surname Bauer.


Glad to be of service.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again, Wordmaster! Your input is extremely valuable. MEE-sha OW-er it is. It's good to know that other people care as much as I do to pronounce these names right. Since very few people on these boards were around when these names were in the public eye, I'm glad to see that some people are still in the know. And, while we're at it, is it:


VEE-da or VAY-da for Veda Ann Borg (I've heard both.)

DOOR-say or DEE-or-say for Fifi D'Orsay (Those apostrophes throw me off.)

HO-mire or HO-me-yay for Skip Homeier (TCM has used both.)




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
  • Create New...