Mystery Baby Name: Sumiko

(Welcome to mystery week! This is the first of 5 posts featuring baby names that saw sudden popularity increases that I can’t quite figure out. Maybe you guys can help?)

In 1980, over 100 baby girls were suddenly given the name Sumiko (or some variant thereof):

Name 1979 1980 1981 1982
Sumiko 5 31 7 5
Semiko** 23 8
Samika 7 22 20 14
Sameka 12 21 12 9
Sumeka** 14
Sumika** 11
Semeka 8 7 6
Sameko** 7
Samica 7
Semico** 7
Simeko** 7
Sumeko** 7
Semeko** 6
Semika 6 7 7
Sameika** 5

**Debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1980.

What prompted the Sumiko spike? I’m not sure.

The various spellings suggest that people were hearing the name, but not seeing it written down (as with Kasara and Deirdre). So the source is likely to be a song, a movie, or a TV show.

The only possibility I’ve come up with so far is a minor character from The Young and The Restless named Sumiko. According to various soap opera websites, Sumiko was a cult leader (!) who began appearing on the show in early 1980.

Do you have any other ideas?

4 thoughts on “Mystery Baby Name: Sumiko

  1. There was a “pink film” actress Sumiko Koni (Junko Mabuki) with a film of this particular genre in 1980.

    Also, Sumiko Kitada won the japanese Badminton Championship in 1980.

    I don’t think that BAdminton is relevant here: Sumiko Kitada won that championship in the following years, too. But who names their daughter after a pink film actress?

  2. Were Japanese animated series popular in America at the time? It’s possible that it was the name of some fictional character.

  3. That’s a possibility. Though my hunch is that the English voice-overs would have included a new set of Westernized names, at least back in the ’80s. Could be wrong, though. Anyone know?

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