What Launched Lynley?

carol lynley, model, actress
© 1957 LIFE

Precocious teen model-turned-actress Carol Lynley was in the spotlight from the late ’50s onward. In 1957 she was featured on the cover of LIFE magazine, for instance, and in 1958 she played Rapunzel on TV.

But the name-like surname Lynley didn’t pop up in the SSA data until 1962:

  • 1965: 7 baby girls named Lynley
  • 1964: 10 baby girls named Lynley
  • 1963: 12 baby girls named Lynley
  • 1962: 10 baby girls named Lynley [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted

The name Lynlee also debuted that year, and the name Linley starting being used more often for girls.

Carol Lynley is clearly the influence here, but it’s hard to pin down the reason. She appeared in two movies in 1961, and on several TV shows in 1962, but these things aren’t particularly notable — she’d been in movies and on TV before.

My best guess is that the marketing campaign for Return to Peyton Place (1961) drew new attention to her name. Even though the sequel to Peyton Place flopped, Lynley’s starring role ensured that she was featured prominently in advertisements, including TV commercials.

Carol Lynley was born Carole Jones in 1942. (It was the year that Carole Lombard died in a plane crash; lots of parents opted for Carole-with-an-e in 1942.) When Jones started modelling, she chose to go by the name Carolyn Lee. But when she started acting, she altered the name to Carol Lynley because another actress had already claimed “Carolyn Lee.”

Do you like the name Lynley? If you were going to use it, how would you spell it?

Source: “Letters to the Editors.” Life 13 May 1957: 16.


Rapunzel, the Long-Haired One-Hit Wonder

rapunzel, 1958, shirley temple, television, carol lynley
Carol Lynley as Rapunzel, 1958
Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled failed to influence the U.S. baby name charts in 2010, but a televised depiction of Rapunzel from decades earlier boosted the baby name Rapunzel onto the the charts for the first and only time in 1959:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 9 baby girls named Rapunzel
  • 1958: unlisted

Rapunzel was one of the top one-hit wonder names of 1959, in fact.

So what exactly caused this sudden interest in Rapunzel?

The “Rapunzel” episode of Shirley Temple’s Storybook (1958-1961). The German folktale first aired in October of 1958 on NBC. It aired again in 1959 when ABC reran the entire first season of the series.

The role of Rapunzel was played by 16-year-old Carol Lynley. The witch was played by Agnes Moorehead, best remembered today as an entirely different witch: red-headed Endora from Bewitched. And Shirley Temple, who was in her early 30’s by this time, served as narrator.

…And how did the long-haired folktale character come to have the name “Rapunzel” in the first place?

It was a pregnancy craving, believe it or not.

The original story began with a pregnant woman who had a craving for rapunzel, which is a leafy green vegetable. Her husband started stealing rapunzel from a nearby garden that belonged to either a fairy (in the Grimm brothers’ original 1812 version of the story) or a sorceress (in their revised 1857 version). The husband got caught and was forced to make a deal: he could take all the rapunzel he wanted, but in exchange he had to give the baby to the fairy/sorceress. And he did. The baby girl was named “Rapunzel” and taken away.

Have you ever met a person named Rapunzel?

Source: Rapunzel – a comparison of the versions of 1812 and 1857 – D. L. Ashliman

Popular Baby Names in Alberta, 2016

According to data released on June 16th by the government of Alberta, the most popular baby names in the province in 2016 were (again) Olivia and Liam.

Here are Alberta’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2016:

Girl Names
1. Olivia, 292 baby girls
2. Emma, 249
3. Sophia, 215
4. Ava, 207
5. Emily, 187
6. Charlotte, 180
7. Amelia, 172
8. Abigail, 171
9. Chloe, 166
10. Aria, 137

Boy Names
1. Liam, 277 baby boys
2. Benjamin, 252
3. Lucas, 247
4. Oliver, 230
5. Noah, 228
6. William, 213
7. Ethan, 205
8. Jack, 197
9. Lincoln, 192
10. Owen, 189

In the girls’ top 10, Aria replaces Ella and Avery (there was a tie for 7th in 2015).

In the boys’ top 10, Jack, Lincoln, and Owen replace Mason, Logan, and Alexander.

And here’s a sampling of names from the other end of the list. Each of these was given to a single baby in Alberta last year:

  • Unique Girl Names: Airadessa, Bitel-Shishai, Caitlove, Deslie, Evadelle, Finity, Griffiella, Huldah, Ibex, Jananya, Kemdirim, Lobna, Mavie, Niniola, Olanna, Petrichor, Qudsia, Riversong, Savindee, Toscana, Ulanah, Valissa, Wesla, Xyryl, Yagana, Zedrina
  • Unique Boy Names: Addrick, Barristan, Cazzwell, Dino, Erasmus, Fifth, Grayer, Hansel, Igzy, Jonesy, Kayvence, Lenroy, Mahalaleel, Noyan, Orson, Penn, Quayde, Redsky, Salumu, Tinotenda, Umber, Vanden, Wally, Xanjoe, Yan, Zeaston

That’s the first time I’ve ever seen Petrichor used as a baby name! Petrichor is that pleasant, earthy scent associated with rainfall. The word was coined by Australian scientists in the ’60s by combining the ancient Greek words petra (“stone”) and ichor (the fluid that flowed in the veins of the gods).

I wonder if there’s any chance that Petrichor will become a trendy nature name one day. What do you think?

Sources: Frequency and Ranking of Baby Names by Year and Gender – Open Government (Alberta), Alberta’s top baby names for 2016

Just Beyond Julia: Lulia, Sulia, Tulia, Zulia…

julia variants, baby names

Remember that “Julia Guglia” punchline from The Wedding Singer? It came up in conversation the other day, and it made me wonder: what other -ulia names are out there?

I don’t mean familiar Julia-variants like Giulia, Yulia, and Iulia. We already know that these exist. I mean new names coined by adding a different first letter to the tail -ulia — the same way all those different -ayden names cropped up during the -ayden craze.

So have there been -ulia names that aren’t related to Julia? Sure have. Here are the ones I found in the SSA data:

  • Eulia. Eulia pops up most often in the 1920s, which is when Eu- names like Eunice, Eugenia, Eula and Eulalia were relatively popular.
  • Kulia. This one is a borderline case. Kulia is technically a Julia-variant, being a Hawaiian form of Julia, but the initial sound is totally different. (There’s no J-sound in Hawaiian.)
  • Lulia. Like Eulia, Lulia saw usage in the early 1900s when similar names like Lula and Lulu were common. Unlike Eulia, Lulia has since returned to the charts, no doubt thanks to the current trendiness of Lily and the like. This name is also a Hawaiian form of Lydia.
  • Sulia. Sulia, which reminds me of Sula, short for Ursula, popped up once in 1991.
  • Tulia. Tulia, which reminds me of Tulip, has been on the charts several times since turn of the century.
  • Zulia. Like Sulia, Zulia has only appeared in the data once so far.

Ulia by itself has also been used as a name before, though it’s never been in the data. Going back to Hawai’i one last time, Ulia is both a Hawaiian form of Uriah and a Hawaiian word meaning “accident.”

Which of the above -ulia names above do you like best?

P.S. If you want more -ulia names to choose from, here’s a video with dozens of obscure-but-real variants collected from the census:

Five-Name Friday: Boy Name Between Vaughn and Oliver

five name friday, boy name

Welcome to Five Name Friday! Here’s today’s baby name request:

Me and my partner are expecting our first baby, a boy, and want to find names we can agree on. My top 3 are Tucker, Flynn and Vaughn, and my partner’s are Theodore, Benjamin and Oliver.

Can you come up with five great baby name suggestions for this person?

Here are the rules:

  • Be independent. Decide on your five names before looking at anybody else’s five names.
  • Be sincere. Would you honestly suggest your five names to somebody in real life?
  • Five names only please! All names beyond the first five in your comment will be deleted.

Which five baby names are you going to suggest?

[You can also comment on previous Five-Name Friday posts, or send me your own 2-sentence baby name request using the contact form.]