How popular is the baby name Beryl in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Beryl and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Beryl.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Beryl

Number of Babies Named Beryl

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Beryl

Korla, the “Godfather of Exotica” Baby Name

television, music, history, 1950s, korla pandit,
Korla Pandit, early 1950s

Behind today’s name is a fascinating story involving early television, exotic music, racial identity, and clever deception.

The name is Korla, which, along with variant Corla, first appeared in the SSA’s baby name data in 1951:

Year Korla usage Corla usage
1953 . .
1952 6 baby girls (5 in Calif.) .
1951 6 baby girls [debut] 8 baby girls [debut]
1950 . .

A bit of research reveals that most of these early ’50s Korlas and Corlas — mainly females, but also a few males — were born in California specifically. This location is already pretty telling, but the smoking gun is this middle name:

  • Karlo Pandit Lindsay, male, born in November, 1950, in Los Angeles
  • Korla Ponda Williams, female, born in March, 1951, in Los Angeles
  • Korla Pandit Lord, male, born in September, 1953, in San Francisco

So what’s the influence here?

Korla Pandit, the mystical musician whose Los Angeles-based TV show Adventures in Music made him famous, particularly on the West Coast, in the early ’50s.

Pandit first appeared on TV in the spring of 1949. In each episode of Adventures in Music, Pandit wore a jeweled turban and gazed hypnotically at the camera, never speaking — just playing otherworldly music on a Hammond organ. His show, which aired on KTLA, was soon picked up by other California stations.

Some early recordings of Korla prominently feature his name, but I’m not sure if the live show Adventures in Music did. (If not, this could account for why “Corla” debuted higher than “Korla” in the data.)

korla pandit, organ, 1950s, television, name

Korla Pandit was an immediate hit, particularly among suburban housewives. He received an impressive amount of fan mail.

He also started putting out albums, eventually releasing well over a dozen on various labels.

In 1951, after shooting hundreds of shows for KTLA, he left to film a series of short musical performances for Snader Telescriptions. These Snader clips introduced Pandit to a national audience.

But Pandit didn’t stay with Snader long, instead leaving to do other things (including start a new live TV show).

According to the 1952 ad below, his songs were “bringing dollars to the cash register and wild acclaim from feminine hearts.”

music, 1950s, korla pandit, advertisement
Korla Pandit ad in Billboard magazine, 1952

His music helped set the stage for the late ’50s Exotica craze. In fact, some people have since dubbed Korla the “Godfather of Exotica,” though the title has also been given to other musicians (including Les Baxter).

As the decade wore on, Pandit’s fame began to wane. But he did spend the rest of his life recording and performing — and always wearing that bejeweled turban.

He passed away in 1998, leaving behind his American wife Beryl and their two sons, Shari and Koram.

…But the story doesn’t end there.

Because, a few years after that, a Los Angeles journalist discovered that Korla Pandit was not the half-Indian, half-French man from New Delhi he had claimed to be. Instead, he was an African-American man named John Roland Redd from Columbia, Missouri.

Adopting a non-black identity had allowed Redd to have advantages that he couldn’t have had otherwise in 1950s America. He was one of the first African-Americans with a television show, but, ironically, if the public had known he was black, it’s highly unlikely that audiences (especially those entranced housewives) would have responded as enthusiastically as they did.

Redd took his adopted identity to the grave. Not even his sons were aware of their father’s true origin. (His wife must have known the secret, but she never openly admitted it.)

Notably, “Korla Pandit” was Redd’s second adopted persona. In the ’40s he had assumed the name “Juan Rolando,” which helped him get gigs during the Latin music craze of the time and, more importantly, allowed him to join the white L.A. musicians union as opposed to the black one, which afforded him more career opportunities.

It’s not hard to see how he got Juan from John, but I do wonder how he came up with Korla.

What are your thoughts on the name Korla? And on the story of Korla Pandit?

Sources:

P.S. After Pandit left Snader Telescriptions, the company found a replacement: a young Las Vegas pianist, originally from Wisconsin, by the name of Władziu Valentino Liberace


A Star Is Born & a Name is Nudged

Vicki Lester, A Star is Born, 1937, name
Vicki Lester’s name in lights
outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

In April of 1937, the film A Star Is Born was released. It starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March as a married couple at opposite ends of their Hollywood careers: hers beginning, his ending.

The husband was named Norman Maine. The wife, on the other hand, had several identities. At first she was North Dakota farm girl Esther Victoria Blodgett. Then she morphed into movie star Vicki Lester for most of the film. Finally, in that memorable last line, she said: “Hello everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine.”

So how did she go from Esther Blodgett to “Vicki Lester”? Here’s the scene:

Press Agent: Do you know what her name is? Esther Victoria Blodgett.
Producer: Gee, we’ll have to do something about that right away.
Press Agent: …Esther Victoria Blodgett
Producer: Well that Blodgett’s definitely out. See, uh…Esther Victoria, Victoria, Vicki…how about Vicki?
Producer’s Secretary: Oh I think that’s terribly cute.
Producer: Let’s see, Vicki…Vicki what?
Press Agent: Vicki Vicki, pronounced Vicki Vicki. [sarcasm]
Producer: Siesta, Besta, Sesta, Desta, Fester…
Press Agent: Oh that’s very pretty.
Producer: …Jester, Hester, Jester, Lester…Vicki Lester!
Secretary: Oh I like that!

Everyone in the office started chanting the newly minted name Vicki Lester…and with that the star was born.

On the name charts, the entire name-group — Vicki, Vickie, Vicky, Vickey, and so forth — rode a wave of trendiness that started in the ’30s, peaked around 1957, and was over by the ’80s. It’s hard to say how much of this trendiness (if any of it) was fueled by the movie, but one thing definitely attributable to the movie is the higher-than-expected usage of “Vicki” in the late ’30s:

  • 1941: 542 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 274th]
  • 1940: 405 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 316th]
  • 1939: 334 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 355th]
  • 1938: 367 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 332nd]
  • 1937: 148 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 555th]
  • 1936: 82 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 738th]
  • 1935: 70 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 822nd]

Notice how the number adjusted downward in 1939 before the name was picked back up by the wave.

Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that several baby girls born in the late ’30s were named “Vicki Lester.” In 1940, for instance, the Seil family of Washington included parents Orval (26 years old) and Beryl (25) and daughters Arlene (4) and Vicki Lester (1).

vicki lester, census, 1940
Vicki Lester Seil on 1940 U.S. Census

History repeated itself in 1954 upon the release of the first A Star is Born remake, which starred Judy Garland as Esther/Vicki. The name Vicki was again nudged upward a few years ahead of schedule:

  • 1958: 7,434 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 57th]
  • 1957: 8,101 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 51st]
  • 1956: 7,762 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 57th]
  • 1955: 7,978 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 52nd]
  • 1954: 8,220 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 50th]
  • 1953: 6,822 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 61st]
  • 1952: 6,774 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 61st]

And, again, records from the mid-1950s reveal a handful of baby girls named “Vicki Lester.”

The second remake — the 1976 Barbra Streisand version — didn’t include the name change. Even if it had, though, the popularity of Vicki was plummeting by the ’70s and I doubt the film could have done much to boost its image/usage.

Currently the name Vicki is only given to about a dozen baby girls in the U.S. per year. But another version of A Star is Born is in the works — a Lady Gaga version slated for 2018. If this third remake materializes, and if it features the name Vicki, do you think it will influence the baby name charts?

(While we wait for 2018, check out the original version of A Star is Born (1937), which is in the public domain.)

Sources: SSA, U.S. Census

The Rise of the Baby Name Cheryl

Cheryl Walker, Stage Door Canteen (1943)
© LIFE

It’s hard to pinpoint the origin of the name Cheryl (Cherie + Beryl? Cherry + Beryl?) but it’s clear that the name saw a drastic rise in popularity during the first half of 20th century. Cheryl went from a rarity in the early 1900s to one of the most popular girl names in the U.S. by the mid-1950s.

I doubt Cheryl could have achieved this kind of popularity without a series of pop culture boosts — two caused by the same person, interestingly.

The first (and smallest) boost happened in 1938:

  • 1940: 285 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 408th] – 42 in CA
  • 1939: 289 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 390th] – 49 in CA
  • 1938: 397 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 312th] – 76 in CA
  • 1937: 145 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 563rd] – 16 in CA
  • 1936: 94 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 688th] – 10 in CA

Many of these babies were born in California specifically.

The cause?

A 19-year-old from Pasadena named Cheryl Walker. In late 1937, she was selected as the 1938 Queen of the Tournament of Roses. Local newspapers (including the Los Angeles Times) talked about Cheryl quite a bit during the last month of 1937 and the first few months of 1938.

She signed a film contract with Paramount around that time, but didn’t have much success in the entertainment industry until five years later.

That’s when she played the romantic lead in the wartime hit Stage Door Canteen, released in the middle of 1943. Dozens of major celebrities — including Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, George Jessel, Gertrude Lawrence, Gypsy Rose Lee, Ethel Merman, Paul Muni, Merle Oberon, Mary Pickford, and Johnny Weissmuller — had cameos in the film, which was one of the highest-grossing of the year.

(Notably, several months before Stage Door Canteen came out, LIFE magazine published a series of photos of the actress along with a short article subtitled “Cheryl Walker rises from stand-in for Veronica Lake to stardom.”)

In both 1943 and 1944, the number of babies named Cheryl increased significantly:

  • 1945: 8,150 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 32nd]
  • 1944: 7,970 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 36th]
  • 1943: 2,878 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 102nd]
  • 1942: 590 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 280th]
  • 1941: 439 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 311th]

The name of Cheryl’s character, Eileen, also saw increased usage, as did many variants of Cheryl (asterisks denote debuts):

Name 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946
Cheryl 590 2,878 7,970 8,150 11,525
Sheryl 324 588 949 1,055 1,632
Sherrill 202 207 263 206 250
Cheryle 27 80 176 184 238
Sherryl 49 71 104 140 203
Cheryll 11 41 69 98 120
Sheryle 12 19 26 31 52
Cherryl 9 19 59 58 104
Sharelle** 28* 10
Charyl 24* 27 17 21
Scheryl 11* 11 7 5
Cherril 6 6 7
Sherral 6 6 8
Sherelle 6*
Sheril 5 11 6 9
Chyrl 5* 8 7 10
Cheril 6* 7
Cherl 6* 5 8
Sherryll 5 6 5
Cherill 5*
Cheyrl 5* 5 9
Chyrel 7* 10
Cheryal 6* 5
Cherryle 5*
Sherell 5*
Sherrille 5*
Chryl 9*
Sherryle 7*
Cherel 5*
Cherle 5*
Cherryll 5*
Chyral 5*
Shyrel 5*

**Sharelle was the top debut name of the year in 1943.

Usage of the name Cheryl plateaued in the late ’40s and early ’50s, then began to rise again in 1954:

  • 1956: 21,280 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 18th]
  • 1955: 19,100 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 19th]
  • 1954: 15,000 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 22nd]
  • 1953: 12,271 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 28th]
  • 1952: 12,197 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 31st]

Why?

It wasn’t Cheryl Walker — she’d retired from acting by this time.

Instead it was a short-lived TV show called Waterfront (1954-1956). The central character, John Herrick, was the captain of a San Pedro Harbor tugboat called the “Cheryl Ann.”

The show also gave a boost to the compound names Cherylann, Cherylanne and Sherylann.

[EDIT, 6/10 – Diana reminded me about Mouseketeer Cheryl, who was on The Mickey Mouse Club from 1956 to 1958. No doubt she contributed to the name’s popularity as well in the mid-to-late ’50s!]

Cheryl became one of the top 20 baby names in the country in 1955, and it remained in the top 20 until 1961, peaking at 13th in 1958.

After that, usage began to decline. Cheryl fell out of the top 50 in 1972, then out of the top 100 in 1980. (This despite a late-1970s uptick inspired by actress Cheryl Ladd, singer Cheryl Lynn, and/or model Cheryl Tiegs.)

[EDIT, 7/7 – Cheryl M. reminded me to include Cheryl Ladd.]

And in 1998, exactly 40 years after nearly reaching the top 10, Cheryl fell out of the top 1,000 entirely.

What are your thoughts on the name Cheryl?

Do you like it more or less than Cherrill?

Sources:

P.S. Other WWII-era names: Dorie, Jesse Roper, Sea Bee, MacArthur, Swoosie, Roger, Adolf Hitler.

Baby Name Needed – Girl Name for Fourth Baby

A reader named Jennifer would like some name suggestions for her baby girl, due in August. The baby will have three older siblings: Theo, Adrian and Nora Juliet.

Jennifer’s top choice had been Daphne…until a friend used it. Here’s what she liked about Daphne:

[I]t is Greek/mythological (I like the meaning), it is not easily nicknamed, it is not too long, and it is “old” and “traditional” but not common and it sounds beautiful, different. The sound with the last name is very important.

Now, about that last name. It’s distinctive. It starts with an x (that sounds like a z), ends with an s, has 2 syllables (stress on the first), and is unmistakably Greek. I couldn’t find a great substitute, but an Italian name like Zino or Zappa would probably suffice.

Currently, Jennifer’s favorite names are Charlotte, Eve, Genevieve, Lydia and Phoebe. She’s also interested in names that don’t end with an a-sound.

Here are some possibilities:

Beryl
Bettina
Camille
Caroline
Cecily
Chloe
Clytie
Colette
Corinne/Corinna
Danielle
Diane
Dorothy
Emily
Esther
Evelyn
Hannah
Harriet
Helen/Helena
Ione
Irene
Julie
Katherine
Laurel
Leonie
Lisette
Lucia
Margaret
Marie
Mona
Monica
Odette
Pauline
Rachel
Renee
Rosalie
Selene/Selena
Sibyl
Sophie
Sylvie
Yvonne

Which of the above do you like best with Theo, Adrian and Nora? What other girl names would you suggest to Jennifer?

Huge List of Anagram Baby Names

anagram baby names

Looking for baby names with something in common? Perhaps for a set of twins or triplets? I’ve collected hundreds of anagram baby names for you.

2-Letter Anagram Baby Names

3-Letter Anagram Baby Names

4-Letter Anagram Baby Names

5-Letter Anagram Baby Names

6-Letter Anagram Baby Names

7-Letter Anagram Baby Names

8-Letter Anagram Baby Names

9-Letter Anagram Baby Names

10-Letter Anagram Baby Names

If you like the idea of anagrams but want to avoid sound-alike sets, I recommend anagrams with different numbers of syllables. Pairs like “Etta and Tate” and “Clay and Lacy” are a far more subtle than pairs like “Enzo and Zeno” and “Mary and Myra.”

(Here are some palindromic names from last month.)