The unusual Irish name Oona first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in the 1940s:
1944: 5 baby girls named Oona
1943: 7 baby girls named Oona
1942: 5 baby girls named Oona [debut]
It was thanks to Oona O’Neill, daughter of Eugene and Agnes O’Neill, both writers. Oona was born in Bermuda in 1925, five years after her father won his first Pulitzer Prize.
In the early 1940s, Oona was a teenage socialite with famous friends. And in April of 1942, when the 16-year-old debutante was selected as the top “glamour girl” of New York society at the Stork Club, she became famous.
Oona got offers from film studios, and if she had gone in that direction, her name might have become more popular during the 1940s. Instead, she became the wife of Charlie Chaplin in June of 1943, when she was 18 and he was 54. Not long after that, her name dropped back off the charts.
(Oona and Charlie went on to have eight children, named: Geraldine, Michael, Josephine, Victoria, Eugene, Jane, Annette, and Christopher. Geraldine’s daughter Oona Chaplin played the part of Talisa Maegyr on Game of Thrones a few years ago.)
These days, the name Oona (which is actually a spelling variant of Úna) is relatively close to the U.S. top 1,000:
2017: 93 baby girls named Oona [rank: 2,085th]
2016: 111 baby girls named Oona [rank: 1,856th]
2015: 131 baby girls named Oona [rank: 1,634th]
2014: 63 baby girls named Oona [rank: 2,761st]
2013: 38 baby girls named Oona [rank: 3,977th]
Do you think it will ever get there?
What are your thoughts on the baby name Oona?
P.S. “Oona” was back in the baby name data in 1954, the year a character named Oona could be seen on the big screen in the movie Taza, Son of Cochise.
Bewitched, the sitcom about a witch who marries a mere mortal, premiered on ABC in September of 1964 and ran all the way until 1972. Like many popular TV shows, it had a noticeable influence on U.S. baby names. For instance…
The name Samantha, which had ranked far outside the top 1,000 for most of the 20th century, skyrocketed in popularity in the mid-1960s thanks to main character (and witch!) Samantha Stephens, played by Elizabeth Montgomery.
1968: 2,339 baby girls named Samantha [rank: 136th]
1967: 1,806 baby girls named Samantha [rank: 176th]
1966: 1,794 baby girls named Samantha [rank: 182nd]
1965: 1,963 baby girls named Samantha [rank: 179th]
1964: 421 baby girls named Samantha [rank: 473rd]
1963: 73 baby girls named Samantha
The name reached and maintained top-5 status during most of the 1990s (with a lot of help from another fictional Samantha: Samantha Micelli from ’80s sitcom Who’s the Boss?).
Montgomery also played the part of Samantha’s cousin Serena, who was a recurring character during later seasons of the show. The name Serena saw higher usage in the late ’60s and early ’70s as a result.
The name Darrin was boosted up to its highest-ever usage in 1965 thanks to Samantha’s husband Darrin Stephens, originally played by Dick York.
1968: 2,078 baby boys named Darrin [rank: 138th]
1967: 2,029 baby boys named Darrin [rank: 141st]
1966: 2,568 baby boys named Darrin [rank: 119th]
1965: 3,257 baby boys named Darrin [rank: 102nd] <- peak usage
1964: 801 baby boys named Darrin [rank: 272nd]
1963: 310 baby boys named Darrin [rank: 450th]
In fact, all the spelling variants of Darrin saw peak usage in 1965. The most common spelling of the name, Darren, reached 52nd place in the rankings that year. Also in the top 1,000 were Darin (123th), Daren (271st), Darron (408th), Daron (494th) Daryn (717th), and Darryn (818th).
The rare name Endora debuted in 1965, thanks to Samantha’s flamboyant and moderately villainous witch-mother Endora, played by Agnes Moorehead (who, several years earlier, played another TV witch).
1968: 7 baby girls named Endora
1967: 17 baby girls named Endora
1966: 19 baby girls named Endora
1965: 28 baby girls named Endora [debut]
Endora was so dismissive of Darrin that she nearly never bothered to say his name correctly, calling him things like Derwood, Dagwood, Darwick, Dumpkin, and so forth.
Endora’s own name was inspired by the biblical Witch of Endor; “Endor” was an ancient Canaanite city.
Tabatha & Tabitha
The names Tabatha and Tabitha were both featured on Bewitched, confusingly.
Samantha and Darrin’s first child was a baby girl born in January of 1966. They named her Tabitha, a name first strongly suggested in the storyline by Endora (“Whatever you call her, I shall call her Tabitha”).
Behind the scenes, it was Elizabeth Montgomery who suggested the character name Tabitha — spelled the traditional way, with an i.
But, for some unknown reason, the name was spelled Tabatha — with an a — on the credit role. Montgomery was later quoted as saying: “Honestly, I shudder every time I see it. It’s like a squeaky piece of chalk scratching on my nerves.” The spelling wasn’t corrected until season 5 (1968-1969).
Accordingly, the usage of both baby names rose during the ’60s, with Tabatha ranking higher than Tabitha for a three-year stretch before the spelling mistake in the credits was corrected:
947 [rank: 295th]
543 [rank: 398th]
1,050 [rank: 279th]
585 [rank: 401st]
944 [rank: 297th]
658 [rank: 355th]
549 [rank: 391st]
701 [rank: 328th]
444 [rank: 451st]
581 [rank: 378th]
327 [rank: 524th]
500 [rank: 419th]
The name Adam more than doubled in usage over a two-year stretch thanks to Samantha and Darrin’s second child, Adam, who was born in October of 1969.
1972: 5,748 baby boys named Adam [rank: 51st]
1971: 5,855 baby boys named Adam [rank: 57th]
1970: 4,320 baby boys named Adam [rank: 71st]
1969: 2,869 baby boys named Adam [rank: 113th]
1968: 2,546 baby boys named Adam [rank: 119th]
1967: 2,528 baby boys named Adam [rank: 118th]
The name reached and maintained top-20 status for several years during the early 1980s.
…So are you a fan of Bewitched? Which names from the show do you like the best?
Madge Evans was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in New York in 1909. Her birth name was Margherita Evans. Madge Kennedy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1970s. She was born in Illinois in 1891. Madge was also a character name in multiple films, including The Tragedy of Ambition (short, 1914) and The Peace of Roaring River (1919).
Magda Foy was a child actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in New York in 1905. Her birth name was Magdalena Patricia Foy. Madga was also a character played by actress Gertrude Michael in the film I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby (1940).
Malvina Longfellow was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in New York in 1889. Malvina Polo was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in California in 1903. Malvina was also a character name in multiple films, including Ann Vickers (1933) and Let’s Make Music (1941).
Marcelle Corday was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in Belgium in 1890. Marcelle Hontabat was an actress who appeared in 1 film in 1916. She was born in New York in 1897. Marcelle was also a character name in multiple films, including The Way Out (1918) and 50 Million Frenchmen (1931).
Maud Allan was an actress who appeared in 1 film in 1915. She was born in Canada in 1873. Her birth name was Beulah Maude Durrant. Maud was also a character played by actress Miriam Cooper in the film Daughters of the Rich (1923).
Maudie Dunham was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in England in 1902. Maudie was also a character name in multiple films, including Tell Your Children (1922) and Night After Night (1932).
Mayflower was a character played by actress Gladys Hulette in the film Secrets of Paris (1922).
Mayme Kelso was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Ohio in 1867. Mayme was also a character name in multiple films, including One Hundred Percent American (short, 1918) and The Mighty (1929).
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).