The curious baby name “Tinker” debuted on the SSA’s list in the mid-1950s:
- 1956: unlisted
- 1955: 5 baby girls named Tinker
- 1954: 5 baby boys named Tinker [debut]
- 1953: unlisted
Where did it come from?
Well, the girls would have been named Tinker with the Peter Pan character Tinker Bell in mind. (Disney’s film version of Peter Pan came out in ’53, and the Broadway musical came out in ’54.)
But for boys, the inspiration would have been the children’s TV program Tinker’s Workshop, which was on the air from 1954 to 1958. The sole human character was gray-haired, Geppetto-like “Tinker the Toymaker” played by Bob Keeshan (who also produced the show). Keeshan wrote in the ’80s that:
[Tinker] was warm and welcoming, a grandfather who finds joy in talking to young people, passing on his wisdom, exploring the world with them.
The show was a success, but Keeshan left less than a year after it premiered to become “Captain Kangaroo” — a role he played for the next three decades.
Tinker’s Workshop continued until mid-1958, with the role of Tinker being taken up by several other actors, the last of whom was a young Dom DeLuise.
Do you like Tinker as a baby name? Do you think it works better for boys or for girls?
Source: Keeshan, Bob. Growing Up Happy: Captain Kangaroo Tells Yesterday’s Children How to Nurture Their Own. New York: Doubleday, 1989