What Launched Lynley?

carol lynley, model, actress
© 1957 LIFE

Precocious teen model-turned-actress Carol Lynley was in the spotlight from the late ’50s onward. In 1957 she was featured on the cover of LIFE magazine, for instance, and in 1958 she played Rapunzel on TV.

But the name-like surname Lynley didn’t pop up in the SSA data until 1962:

  • 1965: 7 baby girls named Lynley
  • 1964: 10 baby girls named Lynley
  • 1963: 12 baby girls named Lynley
  • 1962: 10 baby girls named Lynley [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted

The name Lynlee also debuted that year, and the name Linley starting being used more often for girls.

Carol Lynley is clearly the influence here, but it’s hard to pin down the reason. She appeared in two movies in 1961, and on several TV shows in 1962, but these things aren’t particularly notable — she’d been in movies and on TV before.

My best guess is that the marketing campaign for Return to Peyton Place (1961) drew new attention to her name. Even though the sequel to Peyton Place flopped, Lynley’s starring role ensured that she was featured prominently in advertisements, including TV commercials.

Carol Lynley was born Carole Jones in 1942. (It was the year that Carole Lombard died in a plane crash; lots of parents opted for Carole-with-an-e in 1942.) When Jones started modelling, she chose to go by the name Carolyn Lee. But when she started acting, she altered the name to Carol Lynley because another actress had already claimed “Carolyn Lee.”

Do you like the name Lynley? If you were going to use it, how would you spell it?

Source: “Letters to the Editors.” Life 13 May 1957: 16.


2 thoughts on “What Launched Lynley?

  1. Thanks for sharing about the spelling of Carol-with-an-e in the 1940s! I had always wondered about my great aunt Carole’s name, and it makes sense now, since she was born in 1945. It was a few years later, but I’d guess Carole Lombard was still the influence.

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