They were young actresses on the cusp of movie stardom back in the 1920s and 1930s.
About 13 Baby Stars were selected by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers every year from 1922 to 1934 (minus 1930 and 1933).
Some of those young women did indeed achieve stardom. Among the Baby Stars were Clara Bow (’24), Mary Astor (’26), Joan Crawford (’26), Fay Wray (’26) and Ginger Rogers (’32).
I thought the names of the Baby Stars — the oldest of whom were born in the final years of the 1800s, the youngest of whom were born in the mid-1910s — would make an interesting set. But I wanted birth names, not stage names, so I tracked down as many birth names as I could. Here’s the result, sorted by frequency (i.e., seven women were named Dorothy).
(Often stage names were the real-life middle names of these women.)
Finally, a few interesting details:
“Jobyna” was Jobyna Ralston, who was named for actress Jobyna Howland, daughter of a man named Joby Howland. The name Jobyna debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1927.
“Derelys” was Derelys Perdue, whose first name at birth was Geraldine. In 1923, Derelys was in the news for obtaining an injunction to prevent film studio FBO from renaming her “Ann.” (FBO was later taken over by future presidential father Joseph P. Kennedy.) The name Derelys was a one-hit wonder on the SSA’s baby name list in 1924.
“Sidney” was Sidney Fox, a female who was given the name Sidney long before the name (in particular, the spelling Sydney) became trendy for baby girls.
This is the last Gone with the Wind post, I swear. :)
In the story, Scarlett O’Hara had two sisters, Suellen (whose name was a contraction of “Susan Elinor”) and Carreen (“Caroline Irene”). She also had a a sister-in-law/best friend named Melanie Hamilton. All three of their names were given a double-boost by the story: first, after the release of the book in mid-1936, and second, after the release of the movie in late 1939.
Here’s the U.S. usage of the name Suellen. (In the movie, the character was played by actress Evelyn Keyes.)
1942: 144 baby girls named Suellen
1941: 159 baby girls named Suellen [peak]
1940: 141 baby girls named Suellen
1939: 40 baby girls named Suellen
1938: 31 baby girls named Suellen
1937: 30 baby girls named Suellen
1936: 5 baby girls named Suellen [debut]
The name saw peak usage in 1941 — also the year that variant form Sueellen debuted. After that, usage petered out.
Here’s the U.S. usage of the name Carreen. (In the movie, the character was played by actress Ann Rutherford.)
1941: 8 baby girls named Carreen
1940: 6 baby girls named Carreen
1937: 8 baby girls named Carreen [debut]
The name Carreen appeared in the data a few more times in the ’60s and ’70s, but that’s it. Interestingly, the variant form Careen, which debuted in 1936, has seen more usage in the U.S. overall.
Here’s the U.S. usage of the name Melanie from the mid-’30s to the early ’40s. (In the movie, the character was played by actress Olivia de Havilland.)
1942: 388 baby girls named Melanie
1941: 308 baby girls named Melanie
1940: 200 baby girls named Melanie
1939: 57 baby girls named Melanie
1938: 53 baby girls named Melanie
1937: 39 baby girls named Melanie
1936: 13 baby girls named Melanie
1935: 9 baby girls named Melanie
1934: 9 baby girls named Melanie
The name Melanie is quite old — it comes from an ancient Greek word meaning “black” or “dark” — but its usage was revived by Gone with the Wind. It went on to crack the top 100 for the first time in 1968 and has been popular ever since. It ranked 82nd in 2010.
If you like the idea of anagrams but want to avoid sound-alike sets, I recommend anagrams with different numbers of syllables. Pairs like “Etta and Tate” and “Clay and Lacy” are a far more subtle than pairs like “Enzo and Zeno” and “Mary and Myra.”