The odd name Gig has been on the SSA’s list a total of three times:
1968: 5 baby boys named Gig
1964: 6 baby boys named Gig
1961: 6 baby boys named Gig [debut]
The source here is actor Gig Young (1913-1978), though these years don’t quite match up with the high points in his career, such as his 1969 Oscar win.
I’m mentioning him today because yesterday, in the Fiona post, we talked about the movie The Gay Sisters (1942). One of Gig’s first notable roles was in this movie, but get this: He was hired to play the part of Gig Young. He got the the gig under his birth name, Byron Barr.
Improbably, there was already an established actor in Hollywood named Byron Barr (1917-1966) when the second Byron was starting out. So at some point during the making of the film, a publicist suggested that he adopt “Gig Young” as his stage name. And he did.
Here’s the actor (and his new name) being spotlighted in an ad for the film:
Not long after this, Gig appeared in Old Acquaintance (1943) — the film that gave us the Deirdre spike of ’44.
Sadly, Gig’s life wasn’t easy. It ended in suicide, immediately after he murdered (!) his fifth wife. A 1991 biography — “an interesting look at the disintegration of yet another film actor” — was cleverly titled Final Gig.
My dad came out to visit us in Colorado recently. He loves geology, so we made sure to take him to several different places with impressive rocks/terrain.
One place we visited was Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. In this park we spotted the above sign, which described how the park got its name back in the 1850s:
As they looked over this area of cathedral-like rock spires, one man, Malancthon Beach, commented that the spot would be a great place for a beer garden someday. His friend, a poetic young man named Rufous Cable, replied that it was a place “fit for the Gods.”
It’s a cool story, but, to me, that first name “Malancthon” is way more interesting than the origin of the park name. Where did it come from?
My best guess is that Malancthon is a tribute to 16th-century German theologian Philipp Melanchthon, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. His surname at birth was Schwartzerd (“black earth” in German), but as a young man he Latinized his name to the classical equivalent Melanchthon (“black earth” in Greek).
We also saw some names at Red Rocks, which is both a park and a famous amphitheater.
The amphitheater was constructed from 1936 to 1941 by men in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program that existed during the Great Depression. One display included a photo of 124 of the men in the local CCC. Here are their first names, sorted by frequency:
Entrances are typically guarded by lions. But in downtown Denver, I’ve found an entrance guarded by a pair of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep:
The entrance is to the Byron White Courthouse on 18th Street, and the rams were sculpted by Gladys Caldwell Fisher in 1936, making them a few decades younger than the NYPL lions.
I wondered whether the rams had names, so I emailed the courthouse. I was told that the sculptures are titled “White Ram” and “Rocky Mountain Sheep” — but no one knows which is which.
Titles aren’t names, though. So let’s come up with some potential names for these rams, shall we?
Should they be virtue names (like Patience & Fortitude)? Should they be symbolic of the city or state in some way (Pike & Peak; Cheech & Chong)? Should they just be random (Mario & Luigi)? Leave a comment with your ideas…
Bernarr Macfadden (1868-1955) was an eccentric businessman and health crusader of the early 20th century.
His most successful business venture was his publishing empire, starting with Physical Culture magazine (1899-1955). This was followed by other magazines and over 100 books, including Virile Powers of Superb Manhood (1900) and Muscular Power and Beauty (1906).
He also organized bodybuilding competitions, opened health food restaurants, and even tried to found a community based on his beliefs called Physical Culture City. (It was in New Jersey.)
But he had plenty of detractors, including the editors of TIME magazine, who nicknamed him “Body-Love” Macfadden.
Speaking of names, Bernarr wasn’t born with the name Bernarr. His birth name was Bernard Adolphus McFadden. In his late 20s, while working in New York City as a personal trainer and physical therapist, he decided to rebrand himself. He ultimately settled on the distinctive “Bernarr Macfadden.” Here’s one version of the story:
Bernard Adolphus McFadden was a name that did not satisfy him. He had experimented with Bernard Adolphus, B. A. McFadden and B. Adolphus McFadden. Professor B. McFadden was not much of an improvement. Bernard sounded weak to him. If he accented the last syllable and substituted an R for the D, it would seem powerful, something like a lion’s roar — Bernarr, a unique name that people would remember. He dropped the Adolphus and, probably because there were so many McFaddens, he chose the name Macfadden, much to the resentment of his relatives scattered across the Midwest.
Bernarr Macfadden married several times and had a total of nine children — first six girls, then three boys. Their names were Helen, Byrne, Byrnece, Beulah, Beverly, Braunda, Byron, Berwyn, and Brewster. The B-names were clearly inspired by the “B” of Bernarr, and I suspect that Braunda was named with the word “brawn” in mind.
1,633 babies were babies were born in Providence in 1866, by my count. (The number given by the author of the document is 1,632.)
1,457 of these babies (707 girls and 750 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 176 babies got blank spaces.
234 unique names (123 girl names and 108 boy names) were shared among these 1,457 babies.
And here’s some extra information I forgot to mention in the last post: In 1860, the city of Providence was home to 29.0% of Rhode Island’s population. In 1870, it was home to 31.7% of the population. So each of these 3 sets of rankings (1866, 1867, 1868) ought to account for roughly 30% of the residents of the state.
Now, on to the names…
The top 5 girl names and boy names of 1866 were, unsurprisingly, very similar to the top names of 1867.
Top Baby Girl Names
Top Baby Boy Names
The girls’ top 5 is identical, while the boys’ top 5 includes Thomas instead of George.
As expected, Mary was the front-runner by a huge margin. And, while there were dozens of Catherines, and a single Catharine, there weren’t any Katherines.
Mary, 149 baby girls
Anna & Eliza, 14 each (2-way tie)
Carrie, Emma, Jane & Susan, 10 each (4-way tie)
Grace & Ida, 9 each (2-way tie)
Esther, Martha & Minnie, 7 each (3-way tie)
Anne & Julia, 6 each (2-way tie)
Agnes, Charlotte, Cora, Harriet, Jennie, Joanna, Maria & Rosanna, 5 each (8-way tie)