Carmelita Geraghty was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1930s. She was born in Indiana in 1901. Carmelita was also a character name in multiple films, including Carmelita’s Revenge (1914) and The Magnificent Fraud (1939).
Carmencita was the dancer who appeared in the short film Carmencita (1894). Carmencita was also a character name in multiple films, including Man from God’s Country (1924) and Adventurous Knights (1935).
Caryl Lincoln was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was born in California in 1903. Caryl was also a character name in multiple films, including Caryl of the Mountains (1914) and Fighting Destiny (1919).
Ever wonder why the baby name Carole — already on the rise in the ’30s and ’40s — saw such a big jump in usage in 1942 specifically?
1944: 6270 baby girls named Carole
1943: 6506 baby girls named Carole
1942: 8409 baby girls named Carole*
1941: 4964 baby girls named Carole
1940: 4788 baby girls named Carole
At that time, there were two famous movie actresses named Carole: Carole Lombard and Carole Landis.
Lombard was the funny one — the “world’s champion attractive screwball,” according to Life magazine — while Landis was more of a traditional Hollywood starlet.
The main cause of that 1942 spike was no doubt the sudden death of Carole Lombard, who was the highest paid actress of her time. She had finished a successful War Bonds promotion tour in the Midwest in mid-January and was flying back to California when her plane crashed into the side of the Mount Potosi in Nevada (near Vegas). All 22 people on board were killed.
Was it just an accident? Or, given that the U.S. had been attacked at Pearl Harbor just a month earlier, was it something even darker? Had Lombard, the war-effort activist, been sabotaged by German spies?
But we can’t discount the influence of Landis entirely. It just so happens that, the same year, we see the surname Landis bubble up for the first time in the girls’ data:
5 baby girls
28 baby boys
13 baby boys
6 baby girls
22 baby boys
5 baby girls [debut]
13 baby boys
20 baby boys
Sadly, Carole Landis died later the same decade of an apparent suicide.
So…how did each actress get her stage name?
Lombard, born Carol Jane Peters in 1908, chose “Carole” at the suggestion of a numerologist and “Lombard” because it was the surname of a friend.
Landis, born Frances Lillian Mary Ridste in 1919, “clearly borrowed from Carole Lombard, the first Hollywood star to spell her name that way.” She said she found Landis in the San Francisco telephone directory.
What are your thoughts on the name Carole? Would you use it?
*One of those 1942 Caroles was Carole Jones, later known as actress Carol Lynley. And a 1943 Carole was Carole Penny Marshall, later known as actress/director Penny Marshall.
Busch, Noel F. “A Loud Cheer for the Screwball Girl.” Life 17 Oct. 1938: 48-50, 62-64.
Gans, Eric Lawrence. Carole Landis: A Most Beautiful Girl. Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2008.
Just remember that the SSA data doesn’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t reflect reality all that well.
Same format as usual: Girl names on the left, boy names on the right. Numbers represent single-year decreases in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, usage of the girl name Mary dropped by 146 babies and usage of the boy name William dropped by 1,008 babies.
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and will write about others in the future. In the meanwhile, feel free to beat me to it! Comment below with the backstory on the fall of Shirley in the late ’30s, Linda in the early ’50s, etc.
“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.
Laurette Taylor was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in New York in 1884. Her birth name was Loretta Cooney. Laurette was also a character played by actress Molly Lamont in the film Scared to Death (1947).
Lavolia was a character played by actress Etta McDaniel in the film Magnificent Brute (1936).
Leatrice Joy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1950s. She was born in Louisiana in 1893. Leatrice Joy Gilbert (Leatrice Joy’s daughter) was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1940s. She was born in California in 1924.
Leontine Dranet was an actress who appeared in 2 films in the 1910s. Leontine was also a character name in multiple films, including The Closing Net (1915) and The Shielding Shadow (serial, 1916).
Lita Grey was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in California in 1908. Her birth name was Lillita MacMurray. Lita was also a character name in multiple films, including Bachelor Apartment (1931) and The Girl from Monterrey (1943).
Lorna Gray was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Michigan in 1917. Her birth name was Virginia Pound. Lorna was also a character name in multiple films, including Traffic in Souls (1913) and The Butterfly Girl (1921).
Luana Walters was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in California in 1912. Luana Patten was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1980s. She was born in California in 1938. Luana was also a character played by actress Dolores del Rio in the film Bird of Paradise (1932).
Lucile Watson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1950s. She was born in Canada in 1879. Lucile Browne was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Tennessee in 1907. Lucile was also a character played by actress Marguerite Snow in the short film Lucile (1912).