The Baby Name Tamantha

tamantha, 1960s, television, baby name

Two years after the premiere of the sitcom Bewitched, which featured a character named Samantha, the Samantha-like name Tamantha appeared in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1968: 16 baby girls named Tamantha
  • 1967: 17 baby girls named Tamantha
  • 1966: 16 baby girls named Tamantha [debut]
  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: unlisted

Bewitched could be a secondary influence here, but I think the main influence was another TV sitcom: The Tammy Grimes Show. This long-forgotten series was cancelled after just four episodes (all of which aired in September of 1966) but the main character, played by Broadway actress Tammy Grimes, was a young heiress named Tamantha “Tammy” Ward.

Even more impressive, though, is the upsurge in usage of the similar name Tamatha the same year:

  • 1968: 381 baby girls named Tamatha [rank: 381st]
  • 1967: 313 baby girls named Tamatha [rank: 532nd]
  • 1966: 222 baby girls named Tamatha [rank: 646th]
  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: unlisted

For this one, I think it’s the other way around: Bewitched was the primary influence, and Tammy Grimes was secondary.

Newspaper articles about The Tammy Grimes Show did indeed misspell the character’s name “Tamatha” occasionally, but that’s not enough to catapult a name into the top 1,000. It’s far more likely that this was one of the variant names that emerged in the shadow of Tabatha, which saw a dramatic rise in usage in 1966 thanks to the newborn baby Tabatha on Bewitched.

Do you like the names Tamantha and Tamatha? Do you like them more or less than the traditional names Samantha and Tabitha?

Source: The Tammy Grimes Show – Television Obscurities

P.S. Ironically, Tammy Grimes had been offered the role of Samantha Stephens on Bewitched in 1963 but turned it down.

P.P.S. The name Tammy also happened to enter the top 10 in 1966, but I’m guessing this had more to do with pre-existing momentum than with a 4-episode TV show.

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