Five-Name Friday: Boy Name for Callista’s Brother

five name friday, boy name

You’ve stopped at the supermarket for some eggs. As you examine the contents of each carton one by one, the friendly lady next to you — also hunting for the perfect dozen — strikes up a conversation. At one point she mentions that she’s pregnant, and that she and her partner are trying to find a baby name:

We would like a boy name that sounds good with the name Callista (his older sister). His middle name is probably going to be William.

“Do you have any suggestions?”

You’re a name-lover, and you could potentially give her dozens of suggestions on the spot. But you’ve found a good carton, so you only have time to give her five helpful suggestions before heading off.

But here’s the fun part: Instead of blurting out the first five names you come up with (which is what you’d be forced to do in real life) you get to press a magical “pause” button, brainstorm for a bit, and then “unpause” the scenario to offer her the best five names you can think of.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you brainstorm:

  • Be independent. Decide on your five names before looking at anyone else’s five names.
  • Be sincere. Would you honestly suggest these particular baby names out loud to a stranger in public?
  • Five names only! All names beyond the first five in your comment will be either deleted or replaced with nonsense words.

Finally, here’s the request again:

We would like a boy name that sounds good with the name Callista (his older sister). His middle name is probably going to be William.

Which five baby names are you going to suggest?

[To send in your own 2-sentence baby name request, here are the directions, and here’s the contact form.]


Popular Baby Names in Germany, 2016

According to data from the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (the Association for German Language), the most popular baby names in Germany in 2016 were Sophia/Sofia and Jonas.

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

Girl Names
1. Sophia/Sofia (was 4th)
2. Emma (was 2nd)
3. Hanna/Hannah (same rank)
4. Mia (was 1st)
5. Emilia (was 6th)
6. Anna (was 5th)
7. Mila (same)
8. Lea/Leah (was 8th)
9. Lena (was 10th)
10. Marie (was 11th)

Boy Names
1. Jonas (same rank)
2. Elias (was 8th)
3. Ben (same rank)
4. Leon/Léon (was 5th)
5. Luca/Luka (was 4th)
6. Noah/Noa (was 10th)
7. Paul (was 11th)
8. Louis/Luis (was 6th)
9. Luke/Lucas (was 7th)
10. Finn/Fynn (was 13th)

On the girls’ side, Marie replaces Lina.

On the boys’ side, Paul and Finn/Fynn replace Felix and Maximilian (which dropped from 2nd to 11th).

Here are the Germany’s 2015 rankings, if you’d like to compare.

Source: Ausführliche Auswertung: Die beliebtesten Vornamen 2016

A Star Is Born & a Name is Nudged

Vicki Lester, A Star is Born, 1937, name
Vicki Lester’s name in lights
outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

In April of 1937, the film A Star Is Born was released. It starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March as a married couple at opposite ends of their Hollywood careers: hers beginning, his ending.

The husband was named Norman Maine. The wife, on the other hand, had several identities. At first she was North Dakota farm girl Esther Victoria Blodgett. Then she morphed into movie star Vicki Lester for most of the film. Finally, in that memorable last line, she said: “Hello everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine.”

So how did she go from Esther Blodgett to “Vicki Lester”? Here’s the scene:

Press Agent: Do you know what her name is? Esther Victoria Blodgett.
Producer: Gee, we’ll have to do something about that right away.
Press Agent: …Esther Victoria Blodgett
Producer: Well that Blodgett’s definitely out. See, uh…Esther Victoria, Victoria, Vicki…how about Vicki?
Producer’s Secretary: Oh I think that’s terribly cute.
Producer: Let’s see, Vicki…Vicki what?
Press Agent: Vicki Vicki, pronounced Vicki Vicki. [sarcasm]
Producer: Siesta, Besta, Sesta, Desta, Fester…
Press Agent: Oh that’s very pretty.
Producer: …Jester, Hester, Jester, Lester…Vicki Lester!
Secretary: Oh I like that!

Everyone in the office started chanting the newly minted name Vicki Lester…and with that the star was born.

On the name charts, the entire name-group — Vicki, Vickie, Vicky, Vickey, and so forth — rode a wave of trendiness that started in the ’30s, peaked around 1957, and was over by the ’80s. It’s hard to say how much of this trendiness (if any of it) was fueled by the movie, but one thing definitely attributable to the movie is the higher-than-expected usage of “Vicki” in the late ’30s:

  • 1941: 542 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 274th]
  • 1940: 405 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 316th]
  • 1939: 334 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 355th]
  • 1938: 367 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 332nd]
  • 1937: 148 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 555th]
  • 1936: 82 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 738th]
  • 1935: 70 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 822nd]

Notice how the number adjusted downward in 1939 before the name was picked back up by the wave.

Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that several baby girls born in the late ’30s were named “Vicki Lester.” In 1940, for instance, the Seil family of Washington included parents Orval (26 years old) and Beryl (25) and daughters Arlene (4) and Vicki Lester (1).

vicki lester, census, 1940
Vicki Lester Seil on 1940 U.S. Census

History repeated itself in 1954 upon the release of the first A Star is Born remake, which starred Judy Garland as Esther/Vicki. The name Vicki was again nudged upward a few years ahead of schedule:

  • 1958: 7,434 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 57th]
  • 1957: 8,101 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 51st]
  • 1956: 7,762 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 57th]
  • 1955: 7,978 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 52nd]
  • 1954: 8,220 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 50th]
  • 1953: 6,822 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 61st]
  • 1952: 6,774 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 61st]

And, again, records from the mid-1950s reveal a handful of baby girls named “Vicki Lester.”

The second remake — the 1976 Barbra Streisand version — didn’t include the name change. Even if it had, though, the popularity of Vicki was plummeting by the ’70s and I doubt the film could have done much to boost its image/usage.

Currently the name Vicki is only given to about a dozen baby girls in the U.S. per year. But another version of A Star is Born is in the works — a Lady Gaga version slated for 2018. If this third remake materializes, and if it features the name Vicki, do you think it will influence the baby name charts?

(While we wait for 2018, check out the original version of A Star is Born (1937), which is in the public domain.)

Sources: SSA, U.S. Census

The Last Living Person of the 1900s: What Will Her Name Be?

baby
Emma Morano in 1900
A couple of weeks ago, Italian supercentenarian Emma Morano (b. November 29, 1899) passed away at the age of 117. She was both the world’s oldest living person and the last living person born in the 1800s.

My question for you today is: What will be the name of the last living person born in the 1900s?

We won’t know the answer to this question until well into the 22nd century, of course, but it’s a fun one to ponder.

This person was probably born in 1999 or 1998 and, based on what we know about longevity, this person is also probably female. But what type of name will she have? It’s much harder to make speculations about location and language.

The current list of the 100 oldest people ever contains folks from the U.S., Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Spain, and a few other places. This mix could change drastically in the future, though.

What name/names would you guess? Feel free to list several, each representing a potential location. Here’s the U.S. top 2,000 for the year 2000, which could be helpful for English-speaking areas.

(Wouldn’t it be funny if this person were another Emma? I don’t know how probable this is, but the name’s usage had already started rebounding in several places in the late ’90s, so it’s not impossible. Emma ranked 17th in the U.S. in 1999, for instance. Now it’s #1.)

Early Recognition of the “Great-Grandparent Rule”

grandmotherA baby name becomes trendy for one generation. For the next two generations — while those initial babies are parent-aged and grandparent-aged — you can expect the name to go out of style. But during the third generation — once the cohort reaches great-grandparent age — the name is free to come back into fashion.

Evelyn is a name with a usage pattern that fits this description well.

I’ve seen it described elsewhere as the “100-Year Rule,” but I prefer to call it the “Great-Grandparent Rule,” as it makes more sense to me to frame it in terms of generations.

Essentially, the pattern has to do with a name’s main generational association shifting from “a name that belongs to real-life old people” to “a name that sounds pleasantly old-fashioned.”

I used to think the pattern was one we’d only recently discovered — something we needed the data to see — but it turns out that at least one observant person noticed this trend and wrote about it in The San Francisco Call more than 100 years ago (boldface mine):

Time was — and that not very long ago — when old fashioned names, as old fashioned furniture, crockery and hand embroideries, were declared out of date. The progress of the ages that replaced the slower work of hand by the speed of machines cast a blight on everything that betokened age.

Spinning wheels were stowed away in attics, grandmothers’ gowns were tucked into cedar chests, old porcelain of plain design was replaced by more gaudy utensils and machine made and embroidered dresses and lingerie lined the closets where formerly only handwork was hung.

So with given names. Mary, Elizabeth, Jane, Sarah, Hannah and Anne, one and all, were declared old fashioned and were relegated to past ages to be succeeded by Gladys, Helen, Delphine, Gwendolyn, Geraldine and Lillian and a host of other more showy appellations.

Two generations of these, and woman exercised her time honored privilege and changed her mind.

She woke suddenly to the value of history, hustled from their hiding places the ancient robes and furnishings that were her insignia of culture, discarded the work of the modern machine for the finer output of her own fair hands, and, as a finishing touch, christened her children after their great-grandparents.

Old fashioned names revived with fervor and those once despised are now termed quaint and pretty and “quite the style, my dear.”

Pretty cool that this every-third-generation pattern was already an observable phenomenon three generations ago.

The article went on to list society babies with names like Barbara, Betsy, Bridget, Dorcas (“decidedly Puritan”), Dorothea, Frances, Henrietta, Jane, Josephine, Lucy, Margaret, Mary, Olivia, and Sarah (“much in vogue a century ago”).

Have you see the “100-Year Rule”/”Great-Grandparent Rule” at play in your own family tree? If so, what was the name and what were the birth years?

Source: “Society” [Editorial]. San Francisco Call 17 Aug. 1913: 19.
Image: Frances Marie via Morguefile

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: Letters X & Y

yola d'avril, starlet, actress, y-name
Yola d’Avril (1907-1984)
Here’s the next installment of rare feminine names collected from very old films (1910s, 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s).

Xandra
Xandra was a character played by actress Joan Bennett in the film Scotland Yard (1930).

Yancey
Yancey was a character played by actress Betty Furness in the film A Wicked Woman (1934).

Yannaia
Yannaia was a character played by actress Pola Negri in the film Sumurun (1920).

Yansci
Yansci “Jenny” Dolly was a Hungarian-born character played by actress Betty Grable in the film The Dolly Sisters (1945).

Yasmani
Yasmani was a character played by actress Myrna Loy in the film The Black Watch (1929).

Yasmini
Yasmini was a character played by actress Gertrude Messinger in the film Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (1917).

Yester
Yester was a character played by actress Gertrude Michael in the film The Hidden Menace (1938).

Yetiva
Princess Yetiva was a character played by actress Adrienne Kroell in the short film Cinderella (1912).

Yetive
Princess Yetive was a character played by actress Beverly Bayne in the film Graustark (1915) and by actress Norma Talmadge in the remake Graustark (1925).

Yetta
Yetta was a character name in multiple films such as One Clear Call (1922) and Caught in the Draft (1941).

Ynez
Ynez de Torreno was a character played by actress Vivian Rich in the short film The Navy Aviator (1914).

Yola
Yola d’Avril was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in France in 1907. Yola was also a character played by actress Sari Maritza in the film Monte Carlo Madness (1932).

Yolande
Yolande was a character name in multiple films such as The Love of Princess Yolande (short, 1914) and Lights of New York (1916).

Yoli
Yoli Haydn was a character played by actress Constance Bennett in the film Ladies in Love (1936).

Yona
Yona Landowska was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s.

Yonna
Yonna was a character played by actress Carmel Myers in the film The Devil’s Circus (1926).

Ysail
Ysail was a character played by actress Pauline Curley in the film Bound in Morocco (1918).

Ysidora
Donna Ysidora Sepulveda was a character played by actress Alice Joyce in the short film An American Invasion (1912).

Ysobel
Ysobel was a character name in multiple films, including The Yaqui (1916) and Men of Tomorrow (1932).

Yve
Princess Yve was a character played by actress Gladys Brockwell in the film The Mother of His Children (1920).

One-Hit Wonder Baby Name: Ysobel

movie, 1916, yaqui, yona

If you like the baby names Isabelle and Isabel but want a something a bit different, here’s an idea: Ysobel, which appeared for the first and only time on the U.S. baby name charts in 1916:

  • 1917: unlisted
  • 1916: 6 baby girls named Ysobel [debut]
  • 1915: unlisted

The inspiration was either (or both?) of two 1916 films featuring characters named Ysobel:

  • The Yaqui, released in March of 1916. Ysobel was played by actress Yona Landowska.
  • Lieutenant Danny, U.S.A., released in August of 1916. Ysobel was played by actress Enid Markey.

queen ysabel, spain, 1492(My guess is that the first film had more influence, both because it was released earlier and because another character name, Modesta, also saw higher usage in 1916.)

The rare spelling “Ysobel” is likely based on the Old Spanish version of the name, Ysabel.

In fact, did you know that the historic Spanish queen we call “Isabella” in English was actually known as “Ysabel” during her lifetime? (And her husband Ferdinand was actually “Fernando.”) Their initials, “F” and “Y,” were featured on the banner that Christopher Columbus created for his 1492 expedition to the New World.

Images:

  • The Movie Picture World, Mar. 18, 1916: 1847.
  • Lossing, Benson J. The Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution. Vol. 1. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851.