Superman’s father, Kryptonian scientist Jor-El, first made his appearance in Superman comics in 1938.
But most people probably didn’t know about the character until the movie Superman came out forty years later, in 1978.
In the movie, Jor-El is played by none other than Marlon Brando.
Despite the fact that the film was released in December, Superman became the second highest-grossing film of 1978. (The highest-grossing film, Grease, came out in June.)
Right on cue, the name Jorel popped up on the SSA’s baby name list for the first time in 1979. And the name has been on the list every year since, for a grand total of 820 baby boys named Jorel. (The SSA omits hyphens, so there’s no telling just how many of these Jorels write their name “Jor-El.”)
Usage of the name peaked in the mid-1980s, then started petering out…until the early 2000s, when it bounced back. Why? Perhaps the combined influence of the TV show Smallville (2001-2011) and the film Superman Returns (2006).
And the name may climb even higher in 2013, thanks to the movie Man of Steel, which has been playing in theaters for a couple of months now. Russell Crowe plays Jor-El in this one.
What’s your opinion of the name Jor-El?
Update, Mar. 2018: The grand total is now up to 949.