Deyanne was a two-hit wonder on the U.S. baby name charts at the start of the 1950s:
1951: 7 baby girls named Deyanne
1950: 13 baby girls named Deyanne
Where did the name come from?
A New York debutante named Deyanne O’Neil Farrell.
Deyanne never appeared on the cover of Life (like Brenda Frazier) or on the cover of Jet (like Theonita Cox). But she did appear inside the December 1949 issue of Vogue. She wore a white ball gown designed by Ceil Chapman and the photo was taken by famous fashion photographer Horst P. Horst.
The New York Times announced Deyanne’s engagement the next month, and she married Herbert Miller in St. Patrick’s Cathedral the month after that.
Their wedding photos ended up being part of a marketing campaign for soap made by the Woodbury Soap Company, which regularly featured debutantes and actresses in its advertisements. The image above, for instance, came from a full-page ad in the May 8, 1950, issue of LIFE. I saw other versions of the ad in other magazines (like McCall’s) and in the newspapers (like the Pittsburgh Press) in 1950 and 1951.
The Woodbury ads featuring Deyanne are no doubt what gave the name a boost on the charts during both of those years.
And Deyanne gave one more thing a boost a few years later: Portuguese Water Dogs. In fact, she’s credited with introducing the breed to the United States in 1968. Four decades after that, the Obama family introduced the breed to the White House. (Their Portuguese Water Dogs were named Bo and Sunny.)
But let’s get back to human names now…do you like the name Deyanne? Do you like it more or less than the similar name Diane?
“Deyanne Farrell Becomes Fiancee; a Bride-to-be.” New York Times 7 Jan. 1950: 20.
“Deyanne Farrell Wed to a Veteran; Married in Ceremony at St. Patrick’s.” New York Times 19 Feb. 1950: 70.
Did you know that the first woman in the U.S. to fly a plane solo (intentionally*) was named Bessica?
Dr. Bessica “Bessie” Raiche (1875-1932) flew her homemade airplane on September 16, 1910, in Hempstead Plains, New York. It was her first time flying a plane, and during the short flight she “skimmed over the airfield a few feet off the ground.”
A month later, Aeronautical Society of America presented Bessica with a gold medal inscribed to “the first woman aviator of America.”
Bessica, a medical doctor, flew planes for only a short time before moving to California and resuming her medical practice.
Her mother’s name was Elizabeth, so I’m guessing “Bessica” was created as an elaborated form of Bess, the diminutive of Elizabeth.
Do you like the name Bessica? Would you use it for a modern baby girl?
*I say intentionally because, two weeks earlier in 1910, lady-pilot Blanche Stuart Scott had unintentionally become airborne while taxiing a plane.
We revisited the name Shevawn-with-a-W the other day, so today let’s check out another Siobhan variant, Shevaun-with-a-U, which first appeared in the data during the ’50s:
1956: 5 baby girls named Shevaun [debut]
This one might have a distinct influence as well, because it popped up the same year that Life magazine — which was extremely popular in the middle of the 20th century — suggested that readers pronounce the first name of Irish actress Siobhán McKenna as if it were spelled “Shevaun”:
What do you think?
Source: “Siobhan Shows U.S. Her Joan.” Life. 10 Sept. 1956: 59.