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Classic Character Names

Every once in a while, a movie or book has a character whose name becomes a classic. Sometimes the name enters the vernacular - such as Scrooge - others are just great words: Travis Bickle.

Where do writers come up with these names? And will they (please) keep doing so? (Top 10 Index)
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Dr. Strangelove - Dr. Strangelove, Peter George
This book also gives us General Jack D. Ripper, which is a little over the top, but then, so is the entire book.

Played famously by Peter Sellers in the movie, Dr. Strangelove is allegedly based on Henry Kissinger.

Holly Golightly - Breakfast at Tiffany's, Truman Capote
Played brilliantly by Audrey Hepburn in the movie version, the party-girl Golightly is at the center of Capote's novella/long short story.

Ratso Rizzo - Midnight Cowboy
Played to disgusting - yet, in the end, heartbreaking - perfection by Dustin Hoffman.

Even if you know nothing about the movie, if you know one of the stars is called Ratso Rizzo, you can conjure the image up easily, and this image is a lot like Hoffman's character.

Scrooge - A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Oh, that dickens of an author. While the name resonnates well when voiced aloud - it sounds like a tight-fisted, dispeptic character (or the sound a rusty door hinge makes...) - the name is more memorable for what he stands for. Scrooge has entered into the lexicon, and is known even to those who have never heard of Dickens or his classic tale.

Shylock - The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare
While many of Shakespeare's characters are better known - Hamlet, Romeo, and so on - this is a classic name that has, like Scrooge, entered the language.

Travis Bickle - Taxi Driver
De Niro's pycho character in this still-disturbing movie.

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