The name Theonita has appeared on the SSA’s baby name list only once:
- 1958: unlisted
- 1957: 17 baby girls named Theonita [debut]
- 1956: unlisted
That’s pretty high for a one-hit wonder. What’s the explanation?
Looks like it’s debutante Theonita Cox, who graced the cover of Jet magazine in February of 1957. Beside her photo is the headline: “THEONITA COX: Pretty Chicago teen-ager was among 20 in society debut.”
A later issue of Jet reveals that Theonita’s father’s name was Theophilus. And the 1940 U.S. Census says her mother’s name was Juanita. So it’s likely that Theonita’s parents created her name by combining their own.
Theonita Cox boosting the popularity of the baby name Theonita came nearly two decades after a more high-profile debutante, Brenda Frazier, did the same for the name Brenda.
Source: Major, Gerri. “Society World.” Jet 1 Feb. 1962: 39.
Image: Jet cover, 7 Feb. 1957