Greek singer Kitza Kazacos. During the ’50s she became famous in England, and at the end of the decade she decided to try her luck with American audiences.
As the mononymous “Kitza” she appeared (along with Paul Anka) on the Perry Como Show in February of 1959. The press coverage leading up to the appearance was a bit weird, focusing on how she maintained her figure with the help of a hypnotist (“who hypnotizes her into disliking foods that make her gain weight”).
Ultimately, Kitza didn’t have much luck getting attention in the U.S. Here’s what she said later the same year:
“Since the Perry Como show, I have made just one other appearance and that was on daytime show ‘The Jimmy Dean Show.’ They say they want fresh new talent here, but when fresh, new talent comes to them, they say, “The public doesn’t know you.””
I’m not sure what became of Kitza Kazacos, but I can tell you that her first name is a variant of Kitsa, which is a nickname for Kyriaki. Kyriaki is both the Greek word for Sunday and the feminine form of the name Kyriakos, which means “of the lord.” (The Latin equivalent of Kyriakos is Dominicus, the root names like of Dominic and Dominique.)
What do you think of the name Kitza?
Source: Torre, Marie. “New Face Gets Second Look.” Lawrence Journal-World 15 Jun. 1959: 4.
I thought it was just a variant of Cookie until I did some research. Turns out that Kookie was a hipster character played by Edward Byrnes on the detective show 77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964). He worked as a valet parking attendant at the club next door to the detectives’ office. The character quickly became a cultural phenomenon:
Constantly combing his glossy, duck-tailed hair and speaking in what was called ‘jive talk’, Gerald Lloyd Kookson III – ‘Kookie’ to his friends — helped Stu and Jeff out on their cases and stole the show. Teenage girls went wild for Kookie and his fan mail reached 10,000 letters a week. A glossary was issued for those who wanted to learn his language which included such young dude phrases as, ‘let’s exitville’ (let’s go), ‘out of print’ (from another town), ‘piling up the Z’s’ (sleeping), ‘a dark seven’ (a depressing week) and ‘headache grapplers’ (aspirin) – all soon copied by youth worldwide.
This popularity led to Kookie-branded merchandise, including “Kookie’s Comb.”
Byrnes also appeared in-character as Kookie on other TV shows and in advertisements (such as a series of Harley-Davidson ads for the Topper motor scooter).
Most impressively, Edward Byrnes became a top-10 recording artist with the release of the novelty song “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb” (1959), a duet with Connie Stevens that reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 2005, TV Guide ranked the top 25 teen idols of all time. Edward “Kookie” Byrnes came in 5th. (John Travolta came in 3rd. Michael J. Fox came in 23rd.)
Source: Lewis, Jon E. and Penny Stempel. Cult TV: The Essential Critical Guide. London: Pavilion Books, 1996.
In 1956, singer Gogi [GO-ghee] Grant scored her first and only #1 hit — “The Wayward Wind.” She was also voted Billboard’s Most Popular Female Vocalist that year.
The next year, the name Gogi made its first and only appearance on the SSA’s baby name list:
1957: 6 baby girls named Gogi [debut]
Gogi Grant was born Myrtle Audrey Arinsberg in 1924. Here’s the story behind her stage name:
Audrey Arinsberg was using her married name, Audrey Brown, when she signed with RCA. Her manager changed her name to Audrey Grant, and she used that for two months while performing in the Borscht Belt. Then Dave Kapp came up with the name “Gogi.” “He told me, and you can believe it or not believe it, it came to him in a dream,” she reveals. “But Dave used to go to lunch every day in New York at Gogi’s La Rue. Some of Dave’s friends suspected that’s where he got the name.”
The “Gogi” in the restaurant name came from the name of the proprietor, Giorgi “Gogi” Tchitchinadze, a native of Georgia (the country).
Gogi Grant wasn’t too keen on the name Gogi at first:
“I thought it was very stagey,” Grant recalled, “very unlike me. ‘Why Gogi?’ I asked him. ‘Do I look like a Gogi? Do I sing like a Gogi?’ ”
One of the first advertising slogans used to introduce the singer to the public, she remembered, was “What Is a Gogi?”
What do you think of the name Gogi?
Bronson, Fred. The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. New York: Random House, 2003.