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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Bobbyetta

Number of Babies Named Bobbyetta

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Bobbyetta

Bobbyetta, the Lion Lady Baby Name

In 1954, the baby name Bobbyetta appeared on the SSA’s baby name list for the first and only time with a mere 6 baby girls:

  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: 6 baby girls named Bobbyetta [debut]
  • 1953: unlisted

What caused this ever-so-slight increase in the usage of Bobbyetta?

A lady with a pet lion, believe it or not.

Bobbyetta brushes Tex's teeth.
Bobbyetta brushes Tex’s teeth.

Back in the mid-1950s, a farm family in rural Herscher, Illinois, was making headlines because they shared their home with a full-grown pet lion.

The family consisted of Mr. Harlan Porter, Mrs. Pearl Porter, and their adult children Bill and Bobbyetta. And their pet lion Tex, of course.

Bobbyetta was the primary owner/caretaker of the lion. She had owned dozens of cats growing up, and in her mid-20s she decided she wanted a big cat. So she started actively looking for one. Here’s an ad she placed in The Billboard magazine in January of 1950:

bobbyetta porter big cat want ad
“Wanted–Cheetah, tiger, puma, lion or leopard cub; young as possible. Bobbyetta Porter, Herscher, Ill.”

Later that year, she spotted an ad for 3-month-old lion cubs. The cubs had been born in Africa in April, then brought to Texas to be sold by a wild animal dealer.

Bobbyetta bought one of the cubs “sight unseen” and changed his name from Quien Sabe (which means “who knows” in Spanish) to Tex, short for Texas.

Because winters in Illinois are quite a bit colder than winters in Africa, the Porters decided Tex should live indoors with them. So they split their living room in half with steel bars.

Bobbyetta “soon had him eating out of her hand and wrestling with her in his cage.”

As an adult he weighed over 300 pounds and was fed seven pounds of meat and two quarts of milk per day. He also had a weakness for ice cream.

Bobbyetta feeds Tex meatballs.
Bobbyetta feeds Tex meatballs.

Bobbyetta brushed his teeth after meals, slept near his cage (“as Tex was prone to roar when he felt he was being left alone”), and “relaxed him by running a vacuum cleaner over his coat.”

The family took Tex along when they traveled (“the rear of the station wagon was fitted with a cage”) and included him in the family photos they sent out with their Christmas cards.

Word about Tex spread, and by early 1954 he was being featured in newspapers and magazines across the U.S. and beyond. Headlines included “Lion in a Pine-Paneled Den” (LIFE), “We Live with a Lion” (Chicago Tribune) and “Girl Brushes Lion’s Teeth” (Sun-Herald, Sydney, Australia).

This is precisely when we see one-hit wonder Bobbyetta debut on the national baby name list.

Sadly, Tex wasn’t the healthiest of lions…

Tex is given pills. Bobbyetta in background.

Male African lions can survive 10-15 years in the wild, and ought to be able to many years longer in captivity, but Tex died of a chest tumor in late 1955 at the age 5.

The Porters built Tex a coffin and held both a wake a funeral for him. He was buried on the Porter property “in pink-tufted satin with his head on a royal purple pillow.”

Sources:

Images: © 1950 The Billboard, © 1954 LIFE, © 1954 British Pathé