The First Appearance of Phaedra

phaedra, movie, 1960s, baby name

The ancient name Phaedra was the highest-debuting baby name of 1963:

  • 1967: 21 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1966: 22 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1965: 32 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1964: 29 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1963: 70 baby girls named Phaedra
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted

Why?

Because of the film Phaedra, released in late 1962. It was a flop at the U.S. box office, but had a big impact on U.S. baby names nonetheless.

The title character Phaedra (played by Greek actress Melina Mercouri, who’d played Ilya in the hit Never on Sunday) was the second wife of a wealthy man named Thanos. She initiated a forbidden romance with her husband’s adult son, Alexis, and then both of them had to suffer the consequences.

The movie is one of the many modern versions of the ancient Greek tragedy Hippolytus by Euripides.

In the film, the name Phaedra (based on an ancient Greek word meaning “bright”) is pronounced FEH-dra, with a short E. (Say “Ephedra” without the initial vowel.) Looking at online discussions about the name, though, it’s clear that people use various pronunciations, including FAY-dra and FEE-dra.

What are your thoughts on the name Phaedra? Which pronunciation do you prefer?

Source: Phaedra (1962) – TCM

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