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.
A while back I posted about the baby name Siobhan, which was kicked off (in the U.S.) by Irish stage actress Siobhán McKenna in 1956. The curious part was that, in 1955, a handful of phonetic spellings of Siobhán — Shevawn, Shevon, etc. — popped up ahead of the traditional spelling.
My initial assumption was that these had emerged naturally, as often happens with names that have tricky spellings and/or names we hear rather than see. Deirdre is a good example of this.
But one variant, Shevawn, was pretty dominant. In fact, it was the top debut name of 1955.
1958: 9 baby girls named Shevawn
1957: 8 baby girls named Shevawn
1956: 24 baby girls named Shevawn
1955: 36 baby girls named Shevawn
I just figured “Shevawn” was the most-liked phonetic spelling…because I had no other explanation.
I recently came across a blog post that recapped a September 1955 episode of the live drama series The United States Steel Hour (ABC) called “A Wind from the South.” The episode prominently featured a character named Shevawn, amazingly.
Shevawn, played by stage actress Julie Harris, was an Irishwoman who ran an inn with her brother Liam. Here’s a synopsis that ran in a Texas newspaper a few days before the episode aired:
Miss Harris, in a rare television appearance, will portray Shevawn, an imaginative and winsome colleen who, with her brother, runs a country-side inn. Longing to travel to far-away places, where she believes life is full of magic and splendor, the girl becomes hopelessly enamored of an American guest, who is struck with the girl’s delicate and unspoiled nature.
So that explains Shevawn!
But you know what? Siobhán McKenna is still the explanation, ultimately. Because screenwriter James Costigan had written the role with Siobhán McKenna in mind, and hence had given the character her name. But then the show’s producers intervened. They gave the role to the more recognizable Harris and respelled the character’s name “Shevawn” to make it easier for the American audience to connect the spelling and the pronunciation.
What are your thoughts on the name Shevawn? Do you like the simplified spelling, or do you prefer the original form of the name?
P.S. Here’s the full episode, you want to see it:
“Julie Harris Has Starring Role In TV Production.” Waxahachie Daily Light 11 Sept. 1955: 9.
A few years ago, we held a fun 1980s name-song tournament. (Come on, Eileen, you must remember!) This year, let’s go back even further — let’s check out songs with names in the titles from the early rock and roll era (late ’50s and early ’60s).
I’ll explain more about the tournament at the bottom of the post. For now, I’ll just forewarn you that each link opens a video in a new page so that you don’t lose your place on this page, which is pretty long.
"Wake Up Little Susie" by The Everly Brothers (57%, 4 Votes)
"Sally, Go 'Round the Roses" by The Jaynetts (43%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 7
Which song is better? (30 of 32)
"Susie Q" by Dale Hawkins (71%, 5 Votes)
"Sherry" by The Four Seasons (29%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 7
Which song is better? (31 of 32)
"Runaround Sue" by Dion (67%, 4 Votes)
"Venus in Blue Jeans" by Jimmy Clanton (33%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 6
Which song is better? (32 of 32)
"Sheila" by Tommy Roe (67%, 4 Votes)
"Susie Darlin'" by Robin Luke (33%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 6
…And that’s it for now! Round 2 will start on Friday.
Here’s the full tournament schedule:
Round 1 (64 songs to 32): Vote March 12-15
Round 2 (32 to 16): Vote March 16-19
Sweet 16 (16 to 8): Vote March 20-22
Elite Eight (8 to 4): Vote March 23-25
Final Four (4 to 2): Vote March 26-27
Championship (2 to 1): Vote March 28-29
Winner (1): Announced on March 30
Polls close at 11:59 PM (Mountain Time) on the last day of each round.
And finally, in case you’re wondering how I chose the groups and the pairings: The groups are alphabetical (A to F, G to L, L to P, and R to W). To rank the songs within each group, I used that “total” number of Google search results as a proxy for popularity. Then I created match-ups in true March Madness style: first vs. last, second vs. second-to-last, and so forth.