How popular is the baby name Charisse 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 Charisse.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Charisse


Posts that Mention the Name Charisse

The Rise of Angelina & Jolie

Angelina Jolie, Tomb Raider, 2001, movie

Actress Angelina Jolie was a rising star in the late ’90s and early 2000s, thanks to movies like Gia (1998), Girl, Interrupted (1999), Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).

But she wasn’t just becoming a familiar face in the movie theaters — she was also having a strong influence on baby names. In 2000, the name Jolie broke into the U.S. top 1,000 for the first time, and, a year later, the name Angelina entered the top 100 for the first time:

Angelina usage (ranking)Jolie usage (ranking)
20034,271 baby girls (71st)377 baby girls (691st)
20023,979 baby girls (74th)412 baby girls (620th)
20013,368 baby girls (93rd)385 baby girls (655th)
20002,140 baby girls (157th)275 baby girls (820th)
19991,327 baby girls (237th)152 baby girls (1,241st)
19981,167 baby girls (268th)109 baby girls (1,536th)

Best of all, though, are the debuts of Anjolina and Anjolie — names that cleverly blend “Angelina” with “Jolie” — in 2000. I know of other actresses (e.g., Cyd Charisse, Pier Angeli) who popularized both their first and last names, but Angie is the only one I know of to inspire mash-ups like this.

Which name do you like better for a baby girl, Angelina or Jolie? (Or do you prefer one of the portmanteaus?)

Source: Angelina Jolie – Rotten Tomatoes

Chemise: Fashion-Inspired Baby Name

chemise, dress, baby name, 1950s
Chemise dress by Cardin
© 1957 Life

The baby name Chemise first appeared in the U.S. data in 1958:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 7 baby girls named Chemise [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted

At first I didn’t think much of it, as chemise is an old French word (originally for a woman’s undergarment) that happens to have a pleasant sound: sheh-MEEZ or sheh-MEES (similar to Charisse). Seeing it pop up in the ’50s data didn’t really surprise me.

But then I did some research…and discovered a fascinating bit of fashion history.

For most of the ’50s, the dominant silhouette in ladies’ fashion was an hourglass shape that included defined waists and full skirts.

But in 1957 specifically, several high-fashion designers (including Balenciaga, Givenchy, and Laroche) shook things up by presenting dresses that hung loose from the shoulder and were not cinched at the waist.

These shapeless “chemise” dresses — sometimes called “bag” or “sack” dresses — ended up being a hot topic in the American press during the last months of 1957 and throughout 1958. Supporters praised chemises for being modern and simple; detractors called them ungainly and ugly.

Perhaps even more importantly, the controversy inspired the novelty song “No Chemise, Please” [vid] by Gerry Granahan. It was popular over the summer of 1958.

After a while, the debate died down and the silhouette became accepted (and eventually mainstream). But not before it had given the French word chemise lots of extra exposure. And this extra exposure ended up having a (slight) effect on American baby names, resulting in that 1958 debut in the data.

So what do you think of Chemise as a baby name? (How about as a dress style?)

Sources: Balenciaga – FIDM Museum & Galleries, Chemise dress – Objects – RISD Museum, Caftan Liberation: How an Ancient Fashion Set Modern Women Free

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: C (Part 1)

Here’s the next installment of rare female names collected from old films (1910s through 1940s).

I’ve split the list of C-names in two, and the second half will be posted in a few weeks.

Cabiria
Cabiria was a character played by actress Lidia Quaranta in the film Cabiria (1914).

Caecilia
Caecilia was a character played by actress Zasu Pitts in the film The Honeymoon (1930).

Calalou
Calalou was a character played by actress Hattie Peters in the film White Youth (1920).

Calanthe
Calanthe was a character played by actress Ann Little in the film Damon and Pythias (1914).

Cally
Cally was a character played by actress Margaret Lindsay in the film Slim (1937).

  • Usage of the baby name Cally.

Calpurnia
Calpurnia was a character played by actress Gertrude Michael in the film Cleopatra (1934).

Capria
Capria was a character played by actress Kathlyn Williams in the short film The Survival of the Fittest (1911).

  • Usage of the baby name Capria.

Caprice
Caprice was a character played by actress Carmen Phillips in the short film The Pipes o’ Pan (1914).

Carreen
Carreen O’Hara was a character played by Ann Rutherford in Gone with the Wind (1939).

Caricia
Caricia was a character played by actress Barbara Bedford in the film The Broken Mask (1928).

Carita
Carita was a character played by actress Renée Adorée in the film Tin Gods (1926).

  • Usage of the baby name Carita.

Carlina
Carlina was a character played by actress Charlotte Burton in the film At the Potter’s Wheel (1914).

Carlita
Carlita was a character played by actress Steffi Duna in the film Flirting with Fate (1938).

Carlotta
Carlotta was a character name in multiple films, including The Laugh that Died (1915) and Dinner at Eight (1933).

Carmel
Carmel Myers was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1970s. She was born in California in 1899.

  • Usage of the baby name Carmel.

Carmelita
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
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).

Carmina
Carmina was a character name in multiple films, including The Drop of Blood (1913) and In Gay Madrid (1930).

  • Usage of the baby name Carmina (which debuted in the data in 1914).

Carminella
Carminella was a character played by actress Madame Pilar-Morin in the short film Carminella (1910).

Carney
Carney was a character played by actress Evelyn Brent in the film Daughter of the Tong (1939).

  • Usage of the baby name Carney.

Carola
Carola was a character name in multiple films, including College Holiday (1936) and Dangerous Partners (1945).

  • Usage of the baby name Carola.

Carole

  • Carole Lombard was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in Indiana in 1908. Her birth name was Carol Jane Peters.
  • Carole Landis was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s and 1940s. She was born in Wisconsin in 1919. Her birth name was Frances Lillian Mary Ridste.

Carole was also a character played by actress Ruth Robinson in the film Ann Carver’s Profession (1933).

  • Usage of the baby name Carole.

Carolyne
Carolyne Wright was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s.

Carroll
Carroll Sherridan was a character played by actress Irene Ware in the film Happiness C.O.D. (1935).

Cary
Cary Whipple was a character played by actress Virginia Brissac in the film Three’s a Crowd (1945).

  • Usage of the baby name Cary.

Caryl
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).

  • Usage of the baby name Caryl.

Cassy
Cassy Cara was a character played by actress Pauline Frederick in the film The Paliser Case (1920).

  • Usage of the baby name Cassy.

Castelene
Princess Castelene was a character played by actress Fania Marinoff in the short film The Unsuspected Isles (1915).

Catana
Catana Perez was a character played by actress Jean Peters in the film Captain from Castile (1947).

  • Usage of the baby name Catana (which debuted in the data in 1948).

Catterina
Catterina was a character played by actress Sylvia Sidney in the film Thirty-Day Princess (1934).

Cecile
Cecile was a character name in multiple films, including Camille (1915) and Honeymoon Deferred (1940).

  • Usage of the baby name Cecile.

Cecy
Cecy Acuña was a character played by actress Leslie Brooks in the film You Were Never Lovelier (1942).

  • Usage of the baby name Cecy.

Cédrien
Cédrien was a character played by actress Dale Fuller in the film Volcano! (1926).

Ceinwen
Ceinwen was a character played by actress Ann E. Todd in the film How Green Was My Valley (1941).

Celestine
Celestine was a character name in multiple films, including Dancing Man (1934) and I Want a Divorce (1940).

Celida
Celida was a character played by actress Doris Kenyon in the film The Feast of Life (1916).

  • Usage of the baby name Celida.

Celie
Celie Sterling was a character played by actress Eileen Percy in the film Some Liar (1919).

  • Usage of the baby name Celie.

Celimena
Celimena Moore was a character played by actress Emily Fitzroy in the film Bobbed Hair (1925).

Celinda
Celinda was a character played by actress Virginia Brown Faire in the film The Temptress (1926).

Cella
Cella Stuart was a character played by actress Sunday Wilshin in the film An Obvious Situation (1930).

  • Usage of the baby name Cella.

Cenci
Cenci Prohaska was a character played by actress Patricia Medina in the film Waltz Time (1945).

Cerise
Cerise was a character played by actress Patsy De Forest in the short film A Day on the Force (1915).

  • Usage of the baby name Cerise.

Cesca
Cesca was a character name in multiple films, including Scarface (1932) and Tortilla Flat (1942).

Chaddie
Chaddie Green was a character played by actress Dorothy Devore in the film The Prairie Wife (1925).

Chadyeane
Chadyeane Fairfax was a character played by actress Claire Windsor in the film Born Rich (1924).

Chala
Chala was a character played by actress Amalia Rivera in the film The Tents of Allah (1923).

  • Usage of the baby name Chala.

Chameli
Chameli Brentwood was a character played by actress Aileen Pringle in the film The Tiger’s Claw (1923).

Charisse
Cyd Charisse was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1970s. She was born in Texas in 1922. Her birth name Tula Ellice Finklea.

Charmaine
Charmaine was a character name in multiple films, including What Price Glory? (1926) and Those Three French Girls (1930).

Charmian
Charmian was a character name in multiple films, including Queenie of the Nile (1915) and Mister Dynamite (1925).

Charmion
Charmion was a character name in multiple films, including The Darling of the Rich (1922) and Cleopatra (1934).

Charmis
Charmis Graham was a character played by actress Florence Turner in the film The Ugly Duckling (1920).

Cheema
Cheema was a character played by actress Steffi Duna in the film Panama Lady (1939).

Cheeta
Cheeta was a character played by actress Steffi Duna in the film River’s End (1940).

Cherie
Cherie was a character name in multiple films, including The Destroyer (1915) and Her Man o’ War (1926).

  • Usage of the baby name Cherie.

Cherokee
Cherokee Lansing was a character played by actress Susan Hayward in the film Tulsa (1949).

Cherry
Cherry was a character name in multiple films, including The Silver Horde (1930) and As Good as Married (1937).

  • Usage of the baby name Cherry.

Cheryl
Cheryl Walker was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s and 1940s. She was born in California in 1918.

  • Usage of the baby name Cheryl.

Chichita
Chichita was a character played by actress Elsie Ferguson in the film The Avalanche (1919).

Chilita
Chilita was a character played by actress Louise Fazenda in the short film Mike and Jake in Mexico (1913).

China
China Valdés was a character played by actress Jennifer Jones in the film We Were Strangers (1949).

  • Usage of the baby name China.

Chinta
Chinta was a character played by actress Cora Drew in the film The Moral Law (1918).

Chiquita
Chiquita Hart was a character played by actress Carmen Miranda in the film Something for the Boys (1944).

Chita
Chita was a character name in multiple films, including Flaming Love (1925) and Girl from Havana (1940).

Chonita
Chonita Alvarado was a character played by actress Edith Storey in the film The Tarantula (1916).

  • Usage of the baby name Chonita (which debuted in the data in 1917).

Chook-Ra
Chook-Ra was a character played by actress Edith Roberts in the film The Son of the Wolf (1922).

Christabel
Christabel was a character name in multiple films, including Robin Hood (1912) and A Man of Honor (1919).

Christiane
Christiane Mandelys was an actress who appeared in films in the early 1900s. She was born in France in 1873.

Chulita
Chulita was a character played by actress Frances Drake in the film The Trumpet Blows (1934).

Chyra
Chyra was a character played by actress Nina Quartero in the film One Stolen Night (1929).

  • Usage of the baby name Chyra.

Which of the above do you like best?

The Rise of Kelly as a Girl Name

kelly and me. movie, 1957, dog

During the first half of the 20th century, the name Kelly was more of a boy name than a girl name. That is, it was given far more often to baby boys than to baby girls.

But things changed in the 1950s, when the overall usage of Kelly began to rise quickly — and rise faster for girls than for boys. The first year that more girls than boys were named Kelly was 1957:

Year # Girls Named Kelly # Boys Named Kelly
1959 6,379 (rank: 74th) 2,436 (rank: 142nd)
1958 4,471 (rank: 108th) 2,299 (rank: 148th)
1957 1,907 (rank: 187th) 1,868 (rank: 167th)
1956 831 (rank: 310th) 1,472 (rank: 189th)
1955 540 (rank: 380th) 1,251 (rank: 204th)
1954 455 (rank: 406th) 960 (rank: 225th)
1953 226 (rank: 590th) 845 (rank: 232nd)

Even though the gender switch happened in 1957, usage for boys continued to rise for several more years. Only in 1962 then did the two trajectories finally start to diverge.

So what’s behind both the popularization and feminization of the name Kelly in the 1950s? There seem to be at least three different influences (and possibly others that I haven’t discovered yet). Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • Grace Kelly: actress, most popular around 1955/1956
  • Kelly and Me: movie, released in 1957
  • Bachelor Father: television show, aired from 1957 to 1962

I have a big post about Grace Kelly-inspired baby names scheduled for tomorrow, so for now I’ll just say that, if she was an influence here, she wouldn’t be the first famous actress to inspire parents to start using her surname as a girl name. Before her was Janet Gaynor, June Allyson, Cyd Charisse, Debra Paget, Denise Darcel, Pier Angeli, etc.

The movie Kelly and Me, which co-starred Piper Laurie, is weirdly reminiscent of the 2008 movie Marley and Me. Both films feature a male dog as a main character, and both titular names saw increased usage as baby names — particularly girl names — the years the movies were released. Apparently neither the species nor the gender of the character mattered much to parents. (Here’s the popularity graph for Marley.)

The TV show Bachelor Father focused on a wealthy Beverly Hills attorney named Bentley Gregg who is raising his orphaned teenage niece, a female Kelly. The show clearly gave the name Bentley a boost in the late ’50s and early ’60s, nudging it into the top 1,000 for the first time in 1961, so no doubt it also helped American audiences see Kelly as a nice name for a daughter.

Do you like the name Kelly? Do you like it more as a girl name or as a boy name? (Or does it not matter to you?)