Baby Names Influenced by the Movie “Giant”

giant, 1956, baby names, movie

One of last week’s post featured Glenna Lee McCarthy, whose father was famous Texas oil prospector and entrepreneur Glenn McCarthy (1907-1988).

Writer Edna Ferber fictionalized Glenn’s rags-to-riches life story in her novel Giant (1952) with the character Jett Rink.

The book was later made into a movie, which came out in October of 1956. Jett was played by James Dean, who had died in a car accident a month before the film premiered.

The other two main characters were Jordan “Bick” Benedict (played by Rock Hudson) and his wife Leslie Benedict (Elizabeth Taylor). Secondary characters included the Benedicts’ son Jordan, or “Jordy” (Dennis Hopper) and a neighbor named Vashti (Jane Withers).

The movie did well at the box office and was nominated for various Academy Awards, including a posthumous Best Actor nomination for Dean. It also gave a boost to several baby names:

Name1955195619571958
Leslie
(girl name)
4,401 babies
[rank: 99th]
4,386 babies
[rank: 104th]
6,100 babies
[rank: 77th]
6,008 babies
[rank: 79th]
Jett
(boy name)
5 babies14 babies24 babies17 babies
Jordan
(boy name)
105 babies
[rank: 713th]
101 babies
[rank: 734th]
207 babies
[rank: 540th]
184 babies
[rank: 568th]
Jordy
(boy name)
..5 babies
[debut]
.
Vashti
(girl name)
8 babies7 babies16 babies10 babies

Interestingly, the name Luz — which, like Jordan, was used for two different characters in the movie — saw a slight decline from 1956 to 1957.

Source: Giant (1956) – Wikipedia

Popular Baby Names in Victoria, 2020

According to the government of Victoria, Australia, the most popular baby names in the Australian state of Victoria in 2020 were Charlotte and Oliver.

Here are Victoria’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2020:

Girl Names

  1. Charlotte, 413 baby girls
  2. Amelia, 402
  3. Olivia, 373
  4. Mia, 356
  5. Isla, 351
  6. Ava, 335
  7. Matilda, 289
  8. Chloe, 275
  9. Grace, 273
  10. Ella, 265

Boy Names

  1. Oliver, 546 baby boys
  2. Noah, 491
  3. William, 409
  4. Jack, 408
  5. Charlie, 342
  6. Thomas, 339
  7. Leo, 335
  8. Henry, 316
  9. Levi, 304
  10. Archie, 295

In the girls’ top 10, Matilda, Grace and Ella replace Zoe, Ruby, and Harper.

In the boys’ top 10, Levi and Archie replace Lucas and Ethan.

In 2019, the top two names were Olivia and Oliver.

Source: Popular baby names in Victoria – Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria

What Influenced the Baby Name “Tiger”?

Tiger Woods

For the longest time, I was mystified by the popularity graph for the baby name Tiger. It shows two distinct spikes in usage: one in 1997/1998, the other in 2010.

The initial spike aligns with the rise of golfer Tiger Woods, who “shot to fame after winning the U.S. Masters at Augusta in 1997 — with a record score of 270 — at the age of 21.” He was both the youngest-ever winner and the first African American winner.

If we stick with the Tiger Woods theory, though, the 2010 spike aligns best with Tiger’s infidelity scandal, which was making headlines from late 2009 until mid-2010. And that certainly could be the explanation…though it seems like a disproportionately steep rise, given the nature of the news.

When I noticed recently that Dragon-related names were more popular during Dragon years, it occurred to me that another animal of the Chinese zodiac — the Tiger — might be influencing the baby name Tiger in a similar way.

The most recent Tiger years were 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, and 2010. Turns out that the two big spikes, plus the debut (in 1962), match up perfectly with Tiger years:

  • In 1962, 7 U.S. baby boys were named Tiger.
  • In 1998, 97 U.S. baby boys were named Tiger.
    • 23 [24%] were born in California, 8 in Texas, 6 in Pennsylvania, 5 in Illinois.
  • In 2010, 130 U.S. baby boys were named Tiger.
    • 39 [30%] in California, 10 in Texas, 9 in New York, 8 in Washington, 7 in Florida, 6 in Minnesota, 5 in Pennsylvania.

It’s intriguing that the name was absent from the data in 1974 and 1986. Perhaps Tiger Woods’ rise to fame in 1997 not only gave the name an early boost, but primed expectant parents to see “Tiger” as a feasible option — making those big spikes in 1998 and 2010 possible.

What do you think the usage of “Tiger” will look like in the next Tiger year, 2022?

Sources: Tiger Woods – Biography, Tiger (zodiac) – Wikipedia, Tiger’s dad gave us all some lessons to remember

P.S. Tiger Woods’ birth name is actually Eldrick. His mother invented it, starting it with an “E” because her husband’s name was Earl and ending it with a “K” because her own name is Kultida. Earl Woods nicknamed his son “Tiger” in honor of Col. Vuong Dang “Tiger” Phong, whom he’d known while serving in Vietnam. (The story of the search for Phong is fascinating…)

Leon Edward Seattle No. 3 Yukon Woodpile

Mollie Walsh

Mary “Mollie” Walsh was a young Irishwoman who operated a grub tent in the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush. She was “known among the stampeders for her beauty and cheerfulness.”

One of Mollie’s suitors* was Mike Bartlett, who ran a pack train business out of Dawson City with his brothers. She moved to Dawson and married Mike in 1898.

In August of 1900, the couple welcomed a baby boy while traveling on a steamboat. His name? Leon Edward Seattle No. 3 Yukon Woodpile Bartlett. “Leon” was Mollie’s choice, “Edward” was in honor of an uncle, and the rest of it was thrown in by Mike (and others):

Seattle No. 3 was the name of the boat on which he was born, and the crew insisted on it being a part of the name. Yukon was inserted out of deference to the icy river, and Woodpile because of the fact that on the day he was born the boat was taking on a pile of wood from a big woodpile, 73 miles above Rampart.

Poor Leon wouldn’t have his parents around for long, though. In 1901, Mollie left Mike for a packer named John Lynch. In October of 1902, after an attempted reconciliation, Mike shot and killed Mollie. In late 1903, Mike went on trial for murder, and was acquitted by reason of insanity. (The newspaper coverage of the trial noted that little Leon had “only recently succeeded in memorizing his own name.”) Finally, in 1905, Mike killed himself via hanging.

At the time of the 1910 Census, orphaned Leon was living with his uncle Edward Bartlett in Seattle. By the time Leon got married in 1931, he was living in Washington state and his occupation was “soldier.” Notably, none of the later records I found for Leon included the middle names “Seattle No. 3,” “Yukon,” or “Woodpile.”

Sources:

*Decades later, in 1930, one of Mollie’s other gold rush suitors, Jack Newman, commissioned the bronze bust of Mollie above. It’s still on display in Skagway, Alaska.

Some Manx First Names

flag, Isle of Man

The last native speaker of Manx Gaelic — a fisherman named Ned — died in the mid-1970s.

Since then, one of the ways the Isle of Man has attempted to keep the Manx language alive is through baby names.

In mid-2003, the government released a short booklet, “Some Manx First Names” (pdf), to encourage expectant parents to give their babies traditional Manx names.

In recent years there has been an increase in the use of Manx names but often prospective parents were only aware of the more common names. The booklet includes the more popular names, for example Juan (well born) for a boy and Breeshey (shining) for a girl and less commonly used names for example Fintan (a little fair one) for a boy and Blaa (flower) for a girl.

I have yet to see any Manx names at the top of the Isle of Man rankings (e.g., 2020), but perhaps they’ll get there one day.

In the meanwhile, here’s a sampling of names from the booklet. The booklet’s original definitions are in quotes, and I’ve added some extra info in parentheses.

Male Manx Names

  • Austeyn, “venerable” (form of Augustine)
  • Conylt/Conal, “love” (form of Conall, “strong wolf”)
  • Finlo, “fair Scandinavian” (form of Finlugh, possibly “fair Lugh“)
  • Gilno/Dilno, “saint’s servant” (from the Manx words for “servant,” guilley, and “saint,” noo)
  • Mayl, “like God [Michael]”
  • Ramsey, “place name” (Ramsey is the Isle of Man’s second-largest town; “wild garlic island” in Old English)
  • Stoill, “with a will” (I can’t figure out the derivation here)

Female Manx Names

  • Aalid/Aelid, “beauty” (from the Manx word for “beauty,” aalid)
  • Ailstreena, “feminine of Alister” (both come from Alexander, “defending men”)
  • Creena, “wise” (from the Manx word for “wise,” creeney)
  • Malane, “magnificent [Madeline]” (form of Magdalene, “of Magdala“)
  • Onnee, “grace [Annie]”
  • Renny, “a fern” (from the Manx word for “fern,” rhennee)
  • Vorana, “great” (I can’t figure out the derivation here either)

Do you like any of these names?

Sources: A Manx name for your baby (2005), Behind the Name