The baby name Dianalynn has been in the SSA data just twice, debuting in 1951, then popping up a second time in 1963.
The influence was surely American actress Diana Lynn (1926-1971), whose birth name was Dolores “Dolly” Loehr. But the reason the name debuted in that particular year — if there even is a reason — is hard to pin down.
In 1951 she co-starred with future president Ronald Reagan in the chimp movie Bedtime for Bonzo, which did well at the box office. But this was nothing new; she’d been appearing in well-received movies throughout the 1940s.
Also around 1951 she started appearing on TV, but, as LIFE mentioned in a mid-1952 article featuring Diana Lynn and five other leading ladies of television, “their faces are probably better known than their names. In the billings their names flash by so quickly that the audience is generally unable to identify them.” (The other five featured actresses were Stella Andrew, Rita Gam, Grace Kelly, Felicia Montealegre, and Neva Patterson.)
Philadelphia native Grace Kelly appeared in her first movie in 1951. By 1955, she had become one of the biggest box-office draws in the nation. But she gave up her career as an actress to assume the role of a princess in 1956 when she married the ruler of Monaco.
I know of five baby names (so far) that got a boost thanks to Grace Kelly…
First thing’s first: Grace Kelly’s first name, Grace. It saw a two-year uptick in the mid-’50s:
1959: 1,660 baby girls named Grace [rank: 204th]
1958: 1,708 baby girls named Grace [rank: 198th]
1957: 1,917 baby girls named Grace [rank: 186th]
1956: 1,837 baby girls named Grace [rank: 189th]
1955: 1,390 baby girls named Grace [rank: 216th]
1954: 1,410 baby girls named Grace [rank: 213th]
Decades later, it would peak in the rankings at 13th place for two years in a row (2003 and 2004).
The rise of Kelly can’t be attributed to a single factor, as we saw yesterday. That said, I have no doubt that Grace Kelly played a part in feminizing the first name Kelly during the 1950s:
1959: 6,379 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 74th]
1958: 4,471 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 108th]
1957: 1,907 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 187th]
1956: 831 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 310th]
1955: 540 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 380th]
1954: 455 baby girls named Kelly [rank: 406th]
Grace Kelly’s paternal grandparents were Irish immigrants. The Irish surname Kelly can have several possible origins, but a common one is the Ó Ceallaigh, “descendant of Ceallach.” The meaning of the personal name Ceallach isn’t known for certain — some sources say “bright-headed,” others say it comes from a word meaning “war,” or a different word meaning “church.”
In 1968, the name Kelly saw peak usage on the boys’ list (97th) and then-peak usage on the girls’ list (12th). In 1977, thanks to the Charlie’s Angels character, it bounced back to reach an even higher peak for girls (10th).
Grace’s little sister Elizabeth “Lizanne” Kelly married Donald LeVine in Philadelphia in June of 1955. The same year, the baby name Lizanne debuted on the charts:
1959: 32 baby girls named Lizanne
10 born in Pennsylvania
1958: 39 baby girls named Lizanne [peak]
13 born in Pennsylvania
1957: 36 baby girls named Lizanne
10 born in Pennsylvania
1956: 32 baby girls named Lizanne
9 born in Pennsylvania
1955: 15 baby girls named Lizanne [debut]
Notice how the usage of Lizanne in the late ’50s was particularly high in Pennsylvania. It was the same through most of the ’60s as well.
Grace married Rainier III, the Prince of Monaco, in a lavish wedding in Monaco in April of 1956. The same year, the baby name Rainier debuted on the charts:
1957: 7 baby boys named Rainier
1956: 11 baby boys named Rainier [debut]
The name Rainier is ultimately based on the Germanic words ragin, meaning “advice, decision, counsel,” and hari, meaning “army.”
(The six bridesmaids at the wedding were named Bettina, Carolyn, Judith, Maree, Rita — actress Rita Gam — and Sally.)
Grace and Rainier had three children: Caroline, Albert, and Stephanie. The births of the latter two didn’t seem to have an effect on U.S. baby names, but the birth of Caroline in January of 1957 did give Caroline a bump that year:
1959: 1,046 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 273rd]
1958: 990 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 282nd]
1957: 1,135 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 253rd]
1956: 702 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 329th]
1955: 743 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 315th]
1954: 770 baby girls named Caroline [rank: 304th]
Toward the end of 1957, John and Jacqueline Kennedy — who were still several years away from becoming President and First Lady — also welcomed a daughter named Caroline. They didn’t get the idea from Grace Kelly, though. Caroline Kennedy was named after her maternal aunt, Caroline Lee Radziwill.