In yesterday’s post on the name Clu, I mentioned The Virginian (1962-1971), television’s first 90-minute Western.
The show was set in Wyoming in the 1890s, and, interestingly, the two main characters — ranch foreman “The Virginian” (played by James Drury) and ranch hand Trampas (played by Doug McClure) — did not use first names.
Despite not being a first name, Trampas ended up in the baby name data in the mid-1960s:
1967: 6 baby boys named Trampas
1966: 5 baby boys named Trampas
1965: 6 baby boys named Trampas
1964: 5 baby boys named Trampas [debut]
Spelling variants Trampus and Trampis also appeared in the data around that time.
The show was loosely based on the 1902 novel The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains by Owen Wister (after whom Mount Wister in Grand Teton National Park was named). In the novel, Trampas was the antagonist. His name was based on the Spanish noun trampa, meaning “trap” or “snare.”
William Martin “Clu” Gulager, an actor who appeared primarily on television during the early ’60s. Most notably, he co-starred in the NBC series The Tall Man (1960-1962) as a very fictionalized version of Billy the Kid. He could also be seen on shows like Wagon Train and The Virginian around that time.
Clu Gulager was born in Oklahoma in 1928, and was a member of the Cherokee Nation. “Clu” wasn’t a stage name — it was an inherited childhood nickname. He was named directly after his father’s older brother, William Martin “Clu Clu” Gulager, who served in the Oklahoma State Senate from 1922 to 1930.
The nickname “Clu Clu” came from the Cherokee word clu-clu or tlu-tlu, which referred to the purple martin (a type of bird).
What do you think of the baby name Clu?
Conley, Robert J. A Cherokee Encyclopedia. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.