The name Desiree, which became super trendy in the mid-1950s, wasn’t doing anything special in the early ’40s when the baby name Desira first appeared in the U.S. data:
1942: 5 baby girls named Desira
So where did Desira come from?
Looks like the source is the comic strip Flash Gordon, which introduced a character named Queen Desira in January of 1942. Desira was the red-headed ruler of the jungle kingdom Tropica (on the rogue planet Mongo) and she was regularly featured in the strip until 1944.
Wonder Woman also introduced a character named Queen Desira in 1942 — a rather fishy coincidence — but I doubt this Desira had much/any influence on the charts, as Wonder Woman wasn’t in newspapers until 1944. (Her first standalone comic book came in mid-1942, a bit after Sheena’s comic book).
A 15-month-old London girl named Desnee Sampson, who was featured in a pair of photos that ran in various U.S. newspapers in late 1950 and early 1951.
In the first photo, she was sitting on the floor, watching her cat Billy drink milk from a saucer. In the second, she was bent over the saucer herself and trying to lap up milk in the same way (with Billy looking on).
I don’t know the origin of the name. In fact, my initial guess was that “Desnee” was a typo for Desiree. (I could imagine the middle letters being transposed and then mistaken for an “n.”)
As it turns out, Desnee Sampson’s birth (1949) and marriage (1970) records both confirm that her real name was indeed “Desnee.” Besides, the name Desiree didn’t become trendy until a few years later, thanks to the 1954 Marlon Brando movie Désirée (which I mentioned in the Deserie post).
What do you think of the name Desnee? Would you pronounce the second syllable like that of Desiree (ay-sound) or Deedee (ee-sound)?
The French name Desiree was first popularized in the U.S. by the 1954 movie Désirée, which told the story of Désirée Clary, the one-time fiancée of Napoleon Bonaparte who later became the queen of Sweden and Norway.
Several years later, during the doo-wop craze of the ’50s, five Harlem-based teens formed a vocal group called The Charts — intentionally naming themselves after the Billboard‘s hits list in the hope that they would one day see themselves on the charts.
Despite being booed off stage during an Apollo Theater amateur night, the quintet got signed to a label and ended up recording several songs before disbanding in 1958.
The only Charts song to actually reach the charts? “Deserie,” a “huge East Coast doo wop cult classic” that appeared on Billboard‘s pop chart four times during the second half of 1957, peaking at 88th.
Here’s a video featuring the song:
But the Charts actually charted twice, because the baby name Deserie debuted on the U.S. baby name charts the very same year:
1960: 15 baby girls named Deserie
1959: 8 baby girls named Deserie
1958: 7 baby girls named Deserie
1957: 13 baby girls named Deserie [debut]
Though the spelling and pronunciation aren’t quite the same, Deserie (deh-zə-REE) was no doubt inspired by then-trendy Desiree (deh-zi-RAY), which can be traced back to the Latin word for “desired,” desideratum.
Which name do you like better, Desiree or Deserie?
Warner, Jay. American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006.
A couple of weeks ago, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in dramatic fashion (with a score of 8-7 in the 10th inning of the 7th game).
So will we see a rise in the number of babies with Cubs-inspired names (like Wrigley) this year? Probably! Here are some recent examples:
Wrigley – Katie Stam Irk (a former Miss America) and her husband Brian welcomed a baby boy several days before the final game of the series. After the Cubs emerged victorious, they named the baby Wrigley Oliver.
Wrigley – “Bachelorette” couple Chris Siegfried (a former Chicago Cubs relief pitcher) and his wife Desiree welcomed a baby boy in October and named him Asher Wrigley.
Faith Victory – Chicago parents Jason and Kristy Amato welcomed a baby girl in October and named her Faith Victory.
Clark and Addison – Cubs fans Scott and Amber McFarland welcomed boy-girl twins in late June and named them Clark (son) and Addison (daughter), “after the iconic intersection outside Wrigley Field.”
The names Clark and Addison were also given to a pair of male-female red panda cubs born at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo last year.
And here’s the most impressive set of Cubs-babies I’ve seen so far: A generation ago, Cubs fanatics Julie and Ralph Dynek named their five children Addison (son), Clark (son), Sheffield (son), Grace Waveland (daughter), and Ivy Marie Wrigley Diamond (daughter). The first four were named after the four streets that surround Wrigley Field, and the fifth was named after the field’s famous ivy-covered brick outfield wall.
And don’t forget this 2007 baby named Wrigley Fields. (Visitors who commented on that post mentioned three more Wrigleys, an Addison, and a Clark.)
Have you encountered any other Cubs-inspired baby names lately, either in the news or in real life?