Westerns were the hottest thing on television in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and we can see it in the baby name data. Here’s yet another Western-inspired debut, Hoby:
- 1961: 10 baby boys named Hoby
- 1960: 6 baby boys named Hoby
- 1959: 14 baby boys named Hoby
- 1958: 30 baby boys named Hoby [debut]
- 1957: unlisted
The inspiration? Hoby Gilman, the main character of the TV western Trackdown (1957-1959).
Hoby, played by actor Robert Culp, was a Texas Ranger who spent his days tracking down bad guys in post-Civil War Texas. “[Culp’s] Hoby Gilman was a cooler character than other deadpan Western cowboys. Culp…imbued Hoby with a hipness that was ahead of the time but which presaged the Sixties yet to come.”
Notably, Trackdown “was given official approval from the (modern day) Rangers and the state of Texas.”
The character originated on an episode of Zane Grey Theatre in May of 1957. A mere five months later, a whole series based on Hoby had emerged. (A whopping five episodes of Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre were developed into subsequent TV shows. Impressive.)
Robert Culp went on to co-star with Bill Cosby in I Spy from 1965 to 1968. His character, named Kelly, gave a temporary boost to the male usage of Kelly, which peaked for boys in 1967/1968.
What are your thoughts on the name Hoby?