The TV crime drama Kojak was on the air for five seasons (1973 to 1978). It starred actor Aristotelis “Telly” Savalas as lollipop-sucking, tough-talking, big-hearted New York City police detective Theo Kojak. The series became very popular and, as a result, all of the names in that sentence (Aristotelis, Telly, Savalas, Theo, and Kojak) either debuted or saw increased usage in the baby name data in the mid-1970s:
The name Savalas is currently tied for 48th-highest boy name debut of all time. The name Telly reached the top 1,000 for the first time in 1974, and variant name Telley debuted the same year. Even Aristotle was affected.
So…where do those “Azure” names come from?
They’re from a specific Kojak episode called “Elegy in an Asphalt Graveyard,” which first aired on February 2, 1975. The episode focused on the murder of a character named Azure Dee (played by Denyce Liston), a Manhattan call-girl who Kojak happened to know. Also, notably, the episode began and ended with a melancholy song called “Azure Dee,” [vid] sung by Telly Savalas himself.
The name Azure is currently the 20th-highest girl name debut of all time. The similar name Azuree debuted the same year, but Azuree was probably influenced as much by the the Estée Lauder perfume as by the Kojak character.
Here’s the second-to-last installment of the top baby name debuts for girls. No more ties from here on out.
From 20 to 11:
Azure debuted with 121 baby girls in 1975. Inspired by Azure Dee, a character on the TV detective series “Kojak.” (Or by the song “Azure Dee,” inspired by the character and sung by Telly Savalas for that particular episode.)
Sharde debuted with 124 baby girls in 1985. Inspired by singer Sade [shah-DAY].
Shardae debuted with 129 baby girls in 1985. Same reason as #19.
Yamilex debuted with 130 baby girls in 1995. Inspired by Jamilex, a character on the telenovela “Como Tu, Ninguna.”
Chastelyn debuted with 150 baby girls in 2009. Inspired by Chastelyn Rodriguez, a contestant on the TV beauty pageant “Nuestra Belleza Latina 2009.”
Though vast majority of the baby names on the Social Security Administration’s yearly baby name lists are repeats, every list does contain a handful of brand-new names.
Below are the highest-charting debut names for every single year on record, after the first.
Why bother with an analysis like this? Because debut names often have cool stories behind them, and high-hitting debuts are especially likely to have intriguing pop culture explanations. So this is more than a list of names — it’s also a list of stories.
Here’s the format: “Girl name(s), number of baby girls; Boy name(s), number of baby boys.” Keep in mind that the raw numbers aren’t too trustworthy for about the first six decades, though. (More on that in a minute.)
I’ve already written about some of the names above, and I plan to write about all the others as well…eventually. In the meanwhile, if you want to beat me to it and leave a comment about why Maverick hit in 1957, or why Moesha hit in 1996, feel free!