The 1930 book Destry Rides Again by Max Brand* was set in Texas circa 1900. It followed main character Harrison Destry as he sought revenge against the jurors who wrongfully convicted him of robbery.
The book was adapted to film three times (1932, 1939, and 1954), made into a musical (1959), and turned into a short-lived television series (1964, February to May).
Both the third film and the TV show — neither of which were much like the original novel — had an impact on American baby names. Check out the usage of Destry during the ’50s and ’60s:
- 1967: 34 baby boys named Destry
- 1966: 43 baby boys named Destry
- 1965: 50 baby boys and 7 baby girls named Destry
- 1964: 149 baby boys and 5 baby girls named Destry [rank: 636th]
- 1963: unlisted
- 1962: unlisted
- 1961: unlisted
- 1960: unlisted
- 1959: unlisted
- 1958: 5 baby boys named Destry
- 1957: 6 baby boys named Destry
- 1956: 10 baby boys named Destry
- 1955: 8 baby boys named Destry [debut]
- 1954: unlisted
- 1953: unlisted
The third movie, starring Audie Murphy — who was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of WWII before becoming an actor — is what put Destry on the map. (The name Audie was also on the rise during the early ’50s. Peak usage was in 1956.)
The TV show gave Destry such a big boost in 1964 that it reached the top 1,000 rather impressively that year. (The name Stormy also saw an uptick in usage, thanks to the Destry episode “Stormy Is a Lady,” which featured a young girl name Stormy.)
Some sources suggest the surname Destry is related to the medieval English word destrier, which referred to a war horse, but I haven’t been able to confirm this.
What do you think of the name Destry?
*Max’s real name: Frederick Schiller Faust.