The Baby Name Hayley

hayley mills, pollyanna, 1960

The baby name Halley* debuted because of a comet, but the similar name Hayley debuted thanks to a Disney film.

Which one? Pollyanna (1960), an adaptation of the book Pollyanna (1913). The movie starred teenage English actress Hayley Mills, who ended up winning an honorary Oscar for the role.

Here’s how the film affected the usage of they baby name Hayley in the U.S.:

  • 1963: 71 baby girls named Hayley
  • 1962: 46 baby girls named Hayley
  • 1961: 18 baby girls named Hayley
  • 1960: 9 baby girls named Hayley
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

Mills’ full name is Hayley Catherine Rose Vivien Mills. The name “Hayley” had been passed down for several generations in her family. (Her mother, also an actress, was Mary Hayley Bell.)

The film gave the baby name Pollyanna a boost as well during the ’60s.

*Though people tend to pronounce “Hayley” and “Halley” the same way, the surname Halley is traditionally pronounced to rhyme with “valley.” According to a poll I’ve had up for over a decade now, Hayley is the third-most-popular spelling of the name; the most popular spelling is Hailey.

Source: “The Mills Family’s Merry Mime.” Life 13 Jun. 1960: 12.

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