Casablanca Baby Names: Ilsa & Rick

The baby name Ilsa debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1943.

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…she walks into mine.”

Who is “she”? Ilsa Lund, the ex-lover of Rick Blaine in the classic film Casablanca, which was released in late 1942 and won the Academy Award for Best Picture (plus two other Oscars) in early 1944.

  • 1945: 5 baby girls named Ilsa
  • 1944: 12 baby girls named Ilsa
  • 1943: 6 baby girls named Ilsa [debut]
  • 1942: unlisted
  • 1942: unlisted

The baby name Ilsa (a variant of Ilse, which is a pet form of Elisabeth, the German form of Elizabeth) promptly debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1943.

The movie was based upon a never-produced play written in 1940. In the play, the female lead was an American named Lois Meredith, but in the screenplay the character evolved into a Norwegian woman named Ilsa Lund.

Ingrid Bergman (the mother of Pia) played Isla, while Humphrey Bogart played protagonist Rick — who likely kicked off the sharp rise in the usage of Rick that began in the early ’40s:

  • 1945: 505 baby boys named Rick
  • 1944: 431 baby boys named Rick
  • 1943: 237 baby boys named Rick
  • 1942: 96 baby boys named Rick
  • 1941: 60 baby boys named Rick

What do you think of the name Ilsa? Do you prefer this spelling, or the original spelling (Ilse)?

Source: Rode, Alan K. Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2017.

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