2 Semi-Mysterious Baby Names: Karil & Caril

I’ve been trying to piece together the stories behind the baby names Karil and Caril lately. Both of them saw increased usage in 1958:

Year Usage of Karil Usage of Caril
1960 8 baby girls .
1959 15 baby girls 7 baby girls
1958 19 baby girls [debut] 10 baby girls
1957 . .
1956 . .

The similar names Carol and Karen were popular in the late ’50s, but I think something more specific would have caused both Karil and Caril to pop up all of a sudden like that.

Right now I have two working theories, and both involve murders (how uplifting!).

The first theory is Caril Ann Fugate, the 14-year-old from Nebraska who went on a killing spree with her boyfriend, 19-year-old Charles Starkweather, in January of 1958. The story stayed in the news for months: Starkweather was sentenced to death in May, Fugate received a life sentence in November, and Starkweather’s execution took place in mid-1959.

The second theory is Karil Graham, a Los Angeles woman who was murdered in ’55 and whose story was recounted (with a lot of embellishment) in the 1958 nonfiction book The Badge by Jack Webb, the creator of Dragnet. In late 1958, many newspapers ran Jim Bishop’s positive review of the book, which included the following excerpt highlighting Karil:

The way it is with so many women who live alone, life had held back on Karil Graham. She was likable and attractive, still a year on the sunny side of 40, sandy-haired, blue-eyed, trim-figured. But there was no husband — a marriage hadn’t worked out — no children, no other man in her lonely life.

Karil hid the hurt and filled the emptiness as best she could. Every day she went to work, on time, to her job as receptionist at a downtown Los Angeles art school. Nights, in her quiet apartment, she listened to music and dabbled in painting. She was just a dilettante, she know resignedly, but records and easel were gracious cover-ups for emptiness.

Do either of these theories seem like the primary answer to you? Do you think the answer could be a bit of both? Or something else entirely…?

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