“Press Your Luck” Baby Names: Thawann, Mayuri, Shequita

thawann, press your luck, 1984
Thawann on Press Your Luck, late 1983

The game show Press Your Luck (“Big bucks! No whammies!”) was on the air from mid-1983 to mid-1986. So far, I’ve found five baby names that were influenced by the show.

Thawann

The name Thawann was a one-hit wonder that popped up in 1984:

  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: 5 baby girls named Thawann [debut]
  • 1983: unlisted

Two-time contestant Thawann was on the show in December of 1983. She won the first game she played (PYL episode 54) but not the second (PYL episode 55). At the start of the first show, she told the host her name was Indian.

Geron

The name Geron more than doubled in usage in 1984:

  • 1986: 6 baby boys named Geron
  • 1985: 5 baby boys named Geron
  • 1984: 12 baby boys named Geron
  • 1983: 5 baby boys named Geron
  • 1982: 5 baby boys named Geron

One-time contestant Geron was on the show in May of 1984 (PYL episode 175). A slightly similar soap opera-inspired name, Mergeron, happened to debut the same year.

LaDina

The name LaDina also more than doubled in usage in 1984:

  • 1986: 6 baby girls named LaDina
  • 1985: 8 baby girls named LaDina
  • 1984: 10 baby girls named LaDina
  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: 5 baby girls named LaDina

Two-time contestant LaDina was on the show in December of 1984 — the same two dates as Thawann, ironically. She won the first game she played, but not the second. (I can’t find the episodes online anywhere.)

Shequita

The name Shequita saw a significant increase in usage in 1985:

  • 1987: 42 baby girls named Shequita
  • 1986: 51 baby girls named Shequita
  • 1985: 128 baby girls named Shequita
  • 1984: 36 baby girls named Shequita
  • 1983: 27 baby girls named Shequita

Two-time contestant Shequita was on the show in May of 1985. She won the first game she played (PYL episode 422) but not the second (PYL episode 423). At the start of the first show, she told the host her name was Spanish and meant “small.”

Mayuri

The name Mayuri debuted in 1986:

  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: 6 baby girls named Mayuri [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted

One-time contestant Mayuri (pronounced mah-yoo-dee) was on the show in January of 1986 (PYL episode 599). At the start of the show she mentioned that she’s from Hawaii, but she didn’t say anything about her name, which I’m assuming is Japanese.

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These were the only unique PYL contestant names I spotted on the U.S. charts, but there were plenty of other PYL contestants with unique names, such as: Adoris, Ayne, Beverlyn, Cookie, Donarae, Feargus, Fredda, Guillermo, Hercules, Hillie, Linnea, Llewellyn, Maari, Maytee, Menard, Menett, Meri Lea, Mordecai, Ondreia, Queta, Ramin, Romey, Sancy, Smittay, Thorne, Tinker, Tissa, and Yogi.

Source: Press Your Luck (fanpage)


“Card Sharks” Baby Names: Dilanjan and Risha

Risha, Card Sharks, 1979
Risha on Card Sharks (1979)

Does anyone remember the NBC game show Card Sharks?

The original version — which involved a pair of contestants guessing survey results (à la Family Feud) and then playing the card game High Low for prize money — ran from 1978 to 1981. During that period, two uniquely named contestants had a small influence on American baby names:

Dilanjan

A contestant named Dilanjan was on the show for five episodes in January of 1979. That year, the baby name Dilanjan debuted on the SSA’s baby name list with 13 baby boys. It was never on the list again, though, making it a one-hit wonder.

  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: 13 baby boys named Dilanjan [debut]
  • 1978: unlisted

The name is apparently Sinhalese (the Sinhalese people make up 75% of the population of Sri Lanka) but so far I can’t figure out the meaning.

Risha

A contestant named Risha [pronounced REE-sha] was on the show for six episodes in July of 1979. The baby name Risha had already been on the SSA’s list for several decades by then, but in 1979 usage of the name more than tripled:

  • 1981: 17 baby girls named Risha
  • 1980: 24 baby girls named Risha
  • 1979: 56 baby girls named Risha
  • 1978: 17 baby girls named Risha
  • 1977: 17 baby girls named Risha

I have a feeling that repeat contestants on other long-gone game shows have also affected the charts…but it’s hard to do research on this sort of thing, as there isn’t some master-list of game show contestant names I can refer to (I wish!).

For all the game show junkies out there: What memorable contestant names have you spotted over the years?

More “Star Search” Baby Names

symba smith, star search, spokesmodel, 1991
Symba on Star Search, 1991
When I wrote about the name Tareva a couple of years ago, I said it was the only Star Search-inspired debut name I’d ever come across. Well, I’ve since discovered one more!

Symba

The name Symba was a 2-hit wonder that only appeared in the SSA data in 1991 and 1992:

  • 1993: unlisted
  • 1992: 5 baby girls named Symba
  • 1991: 30 baby girls named Symba [debut]
  • 1990: unlisted

The cause? Not Disney’s animated baby lion, which didn’t come along until a few years later, but Star Search spokesmodel competitor Symba Smith, who appeared on multiple episodes of the show during the 1991 season and ultimately won the 1991 championship (which included $100,000 in prize money).

Two years earlier, in 1989, Mississippi-born Symba had won the “Miss Teen All-American” pageant. (Four years before that, the pageant winner had been Halle Berry.)

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But that’s not all. Here are two more names that saw a boost in usage thanks to Star Search:

Durell

The name Durell spiked in popularity in 1985 thanks to singer Durell Coleman, winner of the 1985 season.

  • 1987: 50 baby boys named Durell
  • 1986: 123 baby boys named Durell
  • 1985: 208 baby boys named Durell
  • 1984: 46 baby boys named Durell

Countess

The name Countess jumped back onto the charts in 1988 thanks to Countess Vaughn, who sang on the show as a 9-year-old.

  • 1990: unlisted
  • 1989: 6 baby girls named Countess
  • 1988: 15 baby girls named Countess
  • 1987: unlisted

Vaughn went on to join the cast of Moesha in 1996 as a teenager.

Two more names that may have been influenced by Star Search — it’s hard to tell — are Garcelle and Jordis. Garcelle Beauvais competed as a spokesmodel in 1986, and Jordis Unga competed as a vocalist in 2004. (Unga’s 2005 appearance on Rock Star: INXS was probably a bigger influence on overall usage.)

Popular Baby Names in Tennessee, 2016

According to provisional data released on January 10th by Tennessee’s Office of Vital Records, the most popular baby names in the state in 2016 were Emma and William.

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

Girl Names
1. Emma
2. Olivia
3. Ava
4. Harper
5. Isabella
6. Amelia
7. Elizabeth
8. Ella
9. Charlotte
10. Abigail

Boy Names
1. William
2. Elijah and James (tie)
3. Mason
4. Noah
5. Jackson and Liam (tie)
6. John and Michael (tie)
7. Benjamin
8. Aiden
9. Jacob
10. Carter

The #1 names were the same in 2015.

In the girls’ top 10, Amelia, Ella, and Charlotte replace Sophia, Madison, and Emily.

Newcomers to the boys’ top 10 are Michael, Benjamin, and Aiden. (No drop-offs this year due to the ties.)

Source: Emma, William Maintain Titles as Tennessee’s Top Baby Names

Five-Name Friday: Girl Name Between Anastasia and Zoe

five name friday, girl names

Not only is it Friday the 13th, but you tripped over your black cat this morning, fell into a wall, and the resulting thump knocked a framed mirror onto the floor, breaking it.

So now you’re at a home goods store picking out a replacement. The saleswoman, who has been very helpful, is also very pregnant. And as she rings up your purchase, she mentions that she and her partner just can’t agree on a baby name. Here’s what they’re looking for:

I like names like Zoe and Brynn, but my partner likes names like Anastasia and Victoria. What are some girl names that are in between?

“Do you have any suggestions?”

You’re a name-lover, and you could potentially give her dozens of suggestions. But you’re eager to get home before all your bad luck starts kicking in, so you only have time to give her five baby name suggestions before heading off.

But here’s the fun part: Instead of blurting out the first five names you come up with, 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 a store?
  • 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:

I like names like Zoe and Brynn, but my partner likes names like Anastasia and Victoria. What are some girl names that are in between?

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 New Brunswick, 2016

According to preliminary data released on January 10th by New Brunswick’s Vital Statistics Office, the most popular baby names in the Canadian province in 2016 were Emma and Liam…I think.

See, the province published the top names in paragraph format, and without rankings. So I can only assume that the names were listed in order of popularity.

With that in mind, here’s my guess at New Brunswick’s projected top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2016:

Girl Names
1. Emma
2. Olivia
3. Charlotte
4. Sophia
5. Ellie
6. Mia
7. Evelyn
8. Anna
9. Amelia
10. Lily

Boy Names
1. Liam
2. Jacob
3. William
4. Thomas
5. Noah
6. Benjamin
7. Samuel
8. Jack
9. Owen
10. Mason

The top boys’ names also included Jaxon, Jackson, and Jaxson — all three — plus both Oliver and Olivier.

Source: New Brunswick’s birth numbers and top baby names for 2016

A “Twilight Zone” Baby Name?

Prime Mover, Twilight Zone, 1961, ace, jimbo
Ace and Jimbo
Yesterday’s post involved Alfred Hitchcock, so today let’s cross over into the Twilight Zone.

The Twilight Zone is now a cult classic, but was only moderately popular during its original run (1959-1964).

That said, it did win a couple of Emmys in the early ’60s. It also inspired viewers to start Twilight Zone fan clubs across the nation. Best of all, it boosted at least one baby name onto the U.S. charts.

The name? Jimbo:

  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: 6 baby boys named Jimbo
  • 1963: 7 baby boys named Jimbo
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: 10 baby boys named Jimbo [debut]
  • 1960: unlisted

In March of 1961, Twilight Zone audiences were introduced to nice-guy character Jimbo Cobb in the episode “The Prime Mover.”

Jimbo Cobb was telekinetic. Ace Larsen, the owner of the diner where Jimbo worked, discovered this one day and convinced Jimbo to go to Las Vegas with him.

The story unfolds as you might expect: They win for a while with the help of Jimbo’s ability to move objects (like roulette balls) with his mind. But Jimbo is wiser than he seems, and in the end doesn’t allow Ace to keep his winnings.

Instead of losing his mind (like some gamblers are wont to do), Ace finds the humor in all of it immediately. Easy come. Easy go. Something snaps inside of him, and he appreciates the life he has more than the life he thought he wanted.

Jimbo was played by actor Buddy Ebsen, who also appeared in dozens of other early TV shows, including Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, Rawhide, and Gunslinger. He’s best remembered today for playing Jed Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies.

Sources: Exploring The Twilight Zone #57: The Prime Mover, The Prime Mover – Wikipedia