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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Buffy

Posts that Mention the Name Buffy

The Beginning of Buff

mike wallace, buff cobb, 1950s, television

Here’s a curious one: Buff. It appeared in the SSA data in the middle of the 20th century as both a boy name and a girl name — but slightly more often as a girl name. The female usage was entirely in the 1950s:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 5 baby girls named Buff
  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: 6 baby girls named Buff
  • 1955: 15 baby girls named Buff
  • 1954: 10 baby girls named Buff
  • 1953: 6 baby girls named Buff
  • 1952: 5 baby girls named Buff [debut]
  • 1951: unlisted

What was the influence here?

An actress with an intriguingly gender-neutral name: Buff Cobb.

She was born Patrizia Chapman in Italy in 1927 to American parents. When she decided in her teens to become a film star, she created the stage name “Buff Cobb” from her mother’s nickname, Buffy, and her maternal grandfather’s surname, Cobb. (He was writer/humorist Irvin Cobb.)

While Buff’s film career didn’t pan out, she did tour with a company putting on Noël Coward’s play Private Lives in the late ’40s. During a stop in Chicago, she was interviewed for a radio show by a young reporter named Mike Wallace — most famous today for his work as a 60 Minutes correspondent from 1968 to 2006.

She and Mike got married in 1949 and began co-hosting a Chicago radio show, which led to two New York City TV shows (both live):

  • Mike and Buff (1951-1953), originally entitled Two Sleepy People, one of television’s first talk shows. “[T]he couple would engage in heated debate over a different topic each day, then try to settle their differences after interviewing experts.” One of Mike’s catchphrases on the show was: “Smarten up, Buff!” The show was sponsored by Pepsi and guests included Harry Belafonte and Mickey Spillane.
  • All Around the Town (1951-1952), an interview show typically broadcast from different parts of New York City.
mike and buff

A year after Mike and Buff was cancelled, the real Mike and Buff were also cancelled — they divorced in 1954. Buff appeared regularly on just one more TV show after that: the ’50s game show Masquerade Party, from 1953 to 1955. Usage of the (female) name Buff was highest during these years.

Do you like the name Buff for a baby girl? Do you like it more or less than Buffy and Buffie (both of which also debuted during the first half of the ’50s)?


Image: Clipped from page 12 of the December 1952 Radio-TV Mirror.

Early TV Shows with Curious Titles

television, 1952

Here’s something different to start the week.

In doing research for my pop culture posts, I learn about a lot of old, obscure stuff. Like early TV shows.

Some of those early TV show had interesting titles, so today I thought I’d highlight a handful of them…

Your Television Babysitter
(DuMont, 1948)
This was a storytelling show for young children. The title not only encapsulates the unspoken purpose of every children’s TV show that ever existed, but it speaks directly to the parent while totally ignoring the intended audience. Amazing.

Personal Appearance Theater
(ABC, 1951)
I was hoping this would be skits about proper 1950s grooming practices. But it was just a regular old anthology series.

Foodini the Great
(CBS, 1948)
This was a puppet show starring a bad-guy magician-puppet named Foodini. But it could have been a cooking show featuring a jokey Italian chef who also did magic tricks. Speaking of chefs…

I Love to Eat
(NBC, 1946)
This was the first network cooking show, hosted by none other than James Beard. The title is both to-the-point and entirely true, as I do indeed love to eat. :)

Spin the Picture
(DuMont, 1949)
I thought this title might be a metaphor, but no. This was a game show that involved recognizing a famous person in a spinning photograph. Sounds like riveting, pivoting TV.

Mysteries of Chinatown
(ABC, 1949)
This was a crime drama set in Chinatown. But I really, really wanted it to be a pair of WASPy hosts wandering around Chinatown and offering their first impressions of things.

Are there any TV show titles that you particularly like? I’ve always appreciated the title of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for instance. (I never actually watched the show, though.)