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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Cecil

Number of Babies Named Cecil

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Cecil

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: Letter Z

zaza, movie, gloria swanson
Gloria Swanson as Zaza (1923)
Looking for an under-the-radar girl name with a retro feel?

A few years ago I combed though a bunch of IMDb pages looking for interesting female names associated with old films (1910s-1940s).

Most of the names I spotted — names like Mabel, Maisie, Hazel, Hattie, Elsie, Selma, Bessie, and Betty — were ones I expected to see. But I did manage to collect thousands of rarities, many of which have never appeared in the SSA data before.

Want to check out all these unusual names? I thought so! To make things interesting I’ll post the Z-names first and go backwards, letter by letter.

Enjoy!

Zabette
Zabette de Chavalons was a character played by actress Bebe Daniels in the film Volcano! (1926).

Zabie
Zabie Elliot was a character played by actress Mary Alden in the film The Broken Butterfly (1919).

Zada
Zada L’Etoile was a character played by actress Sylvia Breamer in the Cecil B. DeMille-directed film We Can’t Have Everything (1918).

Zadee
Zadee Burbank was an actress who appeared in films during the 1910s and 1920s. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1867 with the name Sarah Pyle Watt.

Zahanna
Zahanna was a character played by actress Marie Walcamp in the short film The Girl and the Tiger (1913).

Zahrah
Zahrah was a character played by actress Gene Gauntier in the short film The Fighting Dervishes of the Desert (1912).

Zahrat
Zahrat was a character played by actress Betty Blythe in the film Chu-Chin-Chow (1923) and by Anna May Wong in Chu-Chin-Chow (1934).

Zalata
Zalata was a character played by actress Ruth Stonehouse in the short film Ashes of Hope (1914).

Zalea
Zalea was a character played by mononymous actress Armida in the film Congo Bill (1948).

Zalia
Zalia Graem was a character played by actress Virginia Bruce in the film The Garden Murder Case (1936).

Zalla
Zalla Zarana was an actress who appeared in films during the 1920s. She was born in Slovenia in 1897 with the name Rozalija Sršen.

Zamina
Zamina was a character played by actress Edna Eichor in the film The Roughneck (1924).

Zana
Zana was a character name used in multiple films, including Tonight Is Ours (1933) and Call Out the Marines (1942).

Zanda
Zanda was a character played by actress Laska Winter in the film Shipwrecked (1926).

Zandra
Zandra was a character name used in multiple films, including Carnival Lady (1933) and Good Dame (1934).

Zarika
Countess Zarika Rafay was a character played by actress Rosalind Russell in the film The Night is Young (1935).

Zarita
Zarita was a character played by actress Julie Suedo in the film King’s Mate (1928).

Zarmi
Zarmi was a character played by actress Julie Suedo in the three short films The Queen of Hearts (1923), The Man with the Limp (1923), and The Golden Pomegranates (1924).

Zarrah
Zarrah was a character played by actress Violet Horner in the film A Daughter of the Gods (1916).

ZaSu
ZaSu Pitts was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1960s. She was born in Kansas in 1894.

Zavia
Princess Zavia was a character played by actress Alice Joyce in the short film The Theft of the Crown Jewels (1914).

Zaza
Zaza was a character played by Pauline Frederick in the film Zaza (1915), Gloria Swanson in Zaza (1923), and Claudette Colbert in Zaza (1938).

Zedorah
Zedorah was a character played by actress Mayo Methot in the film Counsellor at Law (1933).

Zee
Zee was a character name used in multiple films, including Jesse James (1939) and Man from Texas (1948).

  • Usage of the baby name Zee (which debuted in the data the year Jesse James came out).

Zeetah
Zeetah was a character played by actress Bessie Eyton in the short film The Totem Mark (1911).

Zeffie
Zeffie Tilbury was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in England in 1863.

Zeleekha
Zeleekha was a character played by actress Mary Duncan in the film Kismet (1930).

Zelia
Zelia de Chaumont was a character played by actress Ruth Chatterton in the film The Rat (1937).

Zelie
Zélie was a character name in multiple films, including The Rat (1925) and The White Black Sheep (1926).

Zell
Zell was a character played by actress Mollie King in the film Fate’s Boomerang (1916).

Zelle
Zelle was a character played by actress Anne Cornwall in the short film The Roughneck (1924).

Zelma
Zelma was a character name in multiple films, including Charity Castle (1917) and Turkish Delight (1927).

Zema
Zema was a character played by actress Louise Vale in the short film The Debt (1912).

Zena
Zena Dare was an actress who appeared in films during the 1920s and 1930s. She was born in England in 1887. Zena Keefe was an actress who appeared in films during the 1910s and 1920s. She was born in California in 1898. Zena was also a character name in multiple films, including The Code of Honor (short, 1916) and The New York Peacock (1917).

Zenia
Zenia was a character name in multiple films such as His Friend’s Wife (short, 1911) and Centennial Summer (1946).

Zenobia
Zenobia was a character name in multiple films such as Secrets of Chinatown (1935) and The Crystal Ball (1943).

Zephne
Zephne Lamont was a character played by actress Edna Murphy in the film The Man Between (1923).

Zephyer
Zephyer Redlynch was a character played by actress “Miss DuPont” (born Patricia Hannon) in the film One Night in Rome (1924).

Zephyrine
Zephyrine was a character name in multiple films, including The Suicide Club (1914) and Women Everywhere (1930).

Zerelda
Zerelda was a character name used in multiple films, including Jesse James (1927) and Jesse James (1939).

Zerilda
Zerilda James was a character played by actress Dorothy Sebastian in the film Days of Jesse James (1939).

Zerlina
Zerlina was a character played by actress Lucile Browne in the film The Devil’s Brother (1933).

Zetta
Zetta was a character played by actress Zalla Zarana in the film The Lady Who Lied (1925).

Zilah
Zilah was a character played by actress Ruth Miller in the film The Sheik (1921).

Zilla
Zilla Riesling was a character played by Cissy Fitzgerald in the film Babbitt (1924) and Minna Gombell in Babbitt (1934).

Zillah
Zillah was a character played by actress Eulalie Jensen in the film Fighting Love (1927).

Zinida
Zinida was a character played by actress Paulette Duval in the film He Who Gets Slapped (1924).

Zira
Zira was a character name in multiple films, including Heart of Flame (short, 1915)
and The Fortieth Door (1924).

Zita
Zita was a character name in multiple films, including The Master Mystery (1919) and The Great Flirtation (1934).

Zixi
Queen Zixi was a character played by actress Juanita Hansen in the short film The Magic Cloak (1914).

Zizi
Zizi was a character played by actress Maudie Dunham in the film Circus Jim (1921).

Zohra
Princess Zohra was a character played by actress Edna Maison in the film serial Under the Crescent (1915).

Zoila
Zoila Conan was an actress who appeared in films during the 1930s. She was born in Mexico in 1903.

Zoldene
Zoldene was a character played by actress Gretchen Lederer in the film Black Friday (1916).

Zonia
Zonia was a character played by actress Eugenie Forde in the film The Light (1916).

Zoradi
Zoradi was a character played by actress Myrtle Gonzalez in the short film The Thief of the Desert (1916).

Zorah
Zorah was a character name in multiple films, such as The Cry of the Captive (short, 1914) and Samson (1914).

Zorina
Vera Zorina, often credited simply as Zorina, was an actress who appeared in films during the 1930s and 1940s. She was born in Germany in 1917 with the name Eva Brigitta Hartwig.

Zudora
Zudora was a character played by actress Marguerite Snow in the film serial Zudora (1914).

Zuleika
Zuleika was a character played by actress Maria Montez in the film Raiders of the Desert (1941).

Zuletta
Zuletta was a character played by actress Lucille Young in the film The Spell of the Poppy (1915).

Zulika
Zulika was a character name used in multiple films, including The Greed of Osman Bey (short, 1913) and How the Earth Was Carpeted (short, 1914).

Zulima
Zulima was a character played by actress Blanche Cornwall in the film Fra Diavolo (1912).

*

Which of the above names do you like best?


Female Names from Early Cinema, Part 4

Here’s the fourth batch of intriguing female names I found in old issues of Photoplay:

Naturitch

Naturitch (sometimes written Nat-U-Ritch) was played by actress Red Wing (real name: Lillian St. Cyr) in the silent film The Squaw Man (1914), but the name Naturitch has never appeared on the SSA’s list.

Naturitch (character), Photoplay, 1919
Naturitch, Photoplay, Jan. of 1919

The Squaw Man is notable for two reasons: it was the first feature-length movie filmed in Hollywood specifically, and it was also the first film to be directed by Cecil B. DeMille.

Quirentia

Actress Anna Q. Nilsson, middle name Quirentia, appeared in over 200 films (a mix of feature-lengths and shorts) from 1911 to 1954, but the name Quirentia has never appeared on the SSA’s list.

Anna Q. Nilsson, Photoplay, 1916
Anna Q. Nilsson, Photoplay, June of 1916

Photo caption: “Anna Q. Nilsson is, as her name indicates, a native of neutral Sweden, her birth being recorded in the torn of Ystad. She first wooed dramatic renown on the stage of her native land and came to America in 1907. Four years later she entered the realm of the flickering shadows as a member of the Kalem company and appeared in many productions of that concern. She was requisitioned by Fox last year and was the star in “Regeneration.””

The middle name Quirentia is a nod to Anna’s birth date: March 30th, which is the feast day of St. Quirinius. Photoplay misspelled her middle name at least twice that I noticed — as “Quirientia” in the March 1915 issue and as “Querentia” in the August 1919 issue.

Sabra

Actress Sabra de Shon appeared in a single short film in 1915, but she had no influence on the usage of the name Sabra.

Sabra de Shon, Photoplay, 1915
Sabra de Shon, Photoplay, June of 1915

Sabra is in the top right photo. Caption: “Sabra de Shon, of Eclair, created Mrs. Hawkins, in “Quincy Adams Sawyer” and played the part for ten years.”

Teddy

Actress Teddy Sampson appeared in about 44 films (a mix of feature-lengths and shorts) from 1914 to 1923, but she had no influence on the usage of the name Teddy.

Teddy Sampson, Photoplay, 1915
Teddy Sampson, Photoplay, Aug. of 1915

Photo caption: “Teddy Sampson says it’s only fair that a little girl like herself should have been born in a big city like New York. She made her public debut at the age of 15 in a Gus Edwards vaudeville act — “School Days” — at the Circle Theater. She was introduced to Mr. Griffith of the Reliance-Majestic company while appearing at the Palace theater in New York, and the interview ended in her engagement to enter the moving picture field.”

More female names from early cinema: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

On the “Changed Nomenclature of Our Babies”

An opinion about “modern names” from 1907:

A very good guide, in the study of New England genealogy, is given by the Christian name. In some families, Simon, Stephen and Thomas may follow down the line of sons; while others carry only John, James and William. Genealogists have great confidence in this clue, for those Christian old worthies used to name their sons after themselves and their fathers. They had not evolved into the “Vernons” and “Cecils” and “Irvings” of now-a-days; these modern names which mean nothing but a morbid craving for the romantic and unusual. Romances guide the Christian names of babies today, alas, instead of sense of family loyalty. Have we not lost something of the real spirit of genuineness and fealty with the changed nomenclature of our babies?

So amusing to think of Vernon, Cecil and Irving as romantic or unusual. I wonder what this writer would have thought of Jayden, Jaxon and Jace.

Source: “Genealogy.” Deseret Evening News 26 Jan. 1907: 26.

The Baby Name Donivee

donivee purkey
(August, 1941)
The baby name Donivee made the SSA’s baby name list just once, in 1942:

  • 1943: unlisted
  • 1942: 5 baby girls named Donivee [debut]
  • 1941: unlisted

Where did this one-hit wonder baby name come from?

It was inspired by Donivee Purkey, an actress who gave Hollywood a shot in the early 1940s.

From mid-to-late 1941, 19-year-old Donivee Purkey of Texas was touted as a talented newcomer to motion pictures. The image of “Pretty Purkey” at right was published in August; Hedda Hopper wrote about her in September; Ann Marsters told readers to “watch for a pretty girl named Donivee Purkey” in October.

By the end of the year, Donivee Purkey’s name had changed twice: first to Lora Lee, then to Donivee Lee.

Despite all the hype and name-changing, though, Donivee Lee’s film career fizzled. Her first movie was supposed to be Cecil B. DeMille’s Reap the Wild Wind, but it’s not listed on her IMDb page. Out of the four movies listed, The Great Moment (1944) is the only one in which she played a credited role.

According to one source, Donivee ended up marrying a Hollywood executive. I’m guessing she stopped pursuing a film career at that point.

Sources: Donivee Lee – IMDb, William Floyd Burroughs – Obituary
Image: “Pretty Purkey.” Milwaukee Journal 30 Aug. 1941, Journal Final ed.: 1.

P.S. Jinx, Gwili and Sivi are three more forgotten Hollywood actresses who left their mark on the U.S. baby name charts.

Goodbye, Gertrude…Again

Last month I spotted an article about the decline of certain old-fashioned baby names in the UK.

(The first two words in the title were “Goodbye Gertrude.” Wait a minute, I thought. Hasn’t the UK already said goodbye to Gertrude? Hm.)

Anyway…

The article, drawing from a recent Ancestry.co.uk study, listed baby names that are now “extinct,” “endangered,” and “at risk” in the UK.

  • Extinct Baby Names (no longer on the England & Wales baby name list)
    • Cecil, Rowland, Willie
    • Bertha, Blodwen*, Fanny, Gertrude, Gladys, Margery, Marjorie, Muriel
  • Endangered Baby Names (fallen in prevalence by 99% since 1905)
    • Clifford, Horace, Harold, Leslie, Norman
    • Doris, Edna, Ethel, Hilda, Marion, Phyllis
  • At-Risk Baby Names (fallen in prevalence by 98% since 1905)
    • Arnold, Bernard, Clarence, Cyril, Ernest, Fred, Herbert, Percy, Roland, Sydney, Trevor, Walter
    • Ann, Dorothy, Eveline, Freda, Gwendoline, Irene, Jane, Janet, Jennie, Lilian, Lizzie, Margaret, Mary, Maud, Mildred, Nellie, Rhoda, Winifred

I wonder how Derek fared in their study.

The article also mentioned that, over the years, some names have been outpaced by their diminutive forms — Alfred by Alfie, Frederick by Freddie, Archibald by Archie, Charles by Charlie, Alexandra by Lexi, Sophia by Sophie, Eleanor by Ellie, and so forth.

*Blodwen is Welsh for “white flowers.” The Breton form is Bleuzen, in case you were wondering.

Sources: Goodbye Gertrude, hello Lexi: records show UK demise of some baby names, Cecil, Bertha and Gertrude — Britain’s ‘Endangered’ Names Revealed