The name Dagmar (based on the Old Norse words dagr, meaning “day,” and mær, meaning “maid”) peaked in usage in the mid-1910s. But it returned for a secondary peak in 1951:
1953: 16 baby girls named Dagmar
1952: 21 baby girls named Dagmar
1951: 28 baby girls named Dagmar
1950: 18 baby girls named Dagmar
1949: 15 baby girls named Dagmar
What gave it a boost that particular year?
An American actress known simply as Dagmar. She became one of television’s first stars — and its very first sex symbol — in 1951.
She was born Virginia Ruth Egnor in West Virginia in 1921. When she began modeling and acting in the 1940s, she adopted the stage name “Jennie Lewis.”
But that stage name was changed to “Dagmar” when she was hired to appear on NBC’s Broadway Open House (1950–51), which was the first late-night variety show on network television. The bosomy* actress was instructed by the show’s host, Jerry Lester, to “act dumb” on the air. Justin Peters of Slate described the Dagmar segments of Broadway Open House as “gleefully sexist and unfunny, yet somehow redeemed by Dagmar’s odd, icy sense of dignity.”
Dagmar soon became more popular than the host himself. Lester ended up quitting, and Dagmar hosted the show during its final month on the air.
Around the same time, she began appearing on other TV variety shows (like Texaco Star Theater and the Bob Hope Show). She even landed on the the cover of Life magazine.
What are your thoughts on the name Dagmar? Would you use it for a modern-day baby?
*Fun fact: The two conical front bumper guards of various ’50s Cadillacs (and other GM cars) — originally modeled after artillery shells — came to be known as “Dagmar bumpers” or simply “Dagmars” in reference to the actress.
Jeanne d’Alcy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1890s to the 1900s. She was born in 1865 in France. Her birth name was Charlotte Lucie Marie Adèle Stephanie Adrienne Faës. Jeanne Eagels was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in 1890 in Missouri. Her birth name was Amelia Jean Eagles. Jeanne Aubert was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was born in 1900 in France. Jeanne was also a character name in multiple films, including The Phantom’s Secret (1917) and The Flower of the North (1922).
Jinjur was a character played by actress Marie Wayne in the film The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914).
Jinx Jinx Falkenburg was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1940s. She was born in Spain in 1919. Her birth name was Eugenia Lincoln Falkenburg. Jinx was also a character name in the film Juke Box Jenny (1942).
Josephita Guerrero was a character played by actress Renée Adorée in the film Tide of Empire (1929).
Josette Andriot was an actress who appeared in films from the 1900s to the 1910s. She was born in France in 1886. Her birth name was Camille Élisa Andriot. Josette was also a character played by actress Tala Birell in the film Josette (1938).
On September 13, 2010, Patricia Carden gave birth four weeks early while she and her partner, Jerry Linville, were sailing from Jacksonville to Key West through bad weather. (Carden believes that the choppy water kicked off her labor.)
The parents were able to pinpoint their son’s birth location (approx. 28 miles offshore) by checking the GPS coordinates. This then inspired them to give him the unique first name Bearing.
This might be my favorite photo on the entire internet.
The shot, which depicts a playful little Texas boy pretending to ride a dead catfish on someone’s front porch, was taken by photographer Neal Douglass in April of 1941.
The Portal to Texas History calls it “Mrs. Bill Wright; Boy Riding Catfish.” So I’m guessing that “Mrs. Bill Wright” was the boy’s mother. But there’s no other identifying information, so I don’t know the boy’s name, nor do I have any way of tracking it down.
So let’s turn this into a name game!
First, let’s suppose our little catfish-rider was not named “Bill” (or “William,” or “Willie,” etc.) after his father. With that rule in place, here are the questions:
What do you think Mrs. Bill Wright named her son?
What would you have named him?
Just for reference, popular names for Texas newborns in the late ’30s included:
For extra credit, what do you think the boy named his catfish? And, what would you have named his catfish? ;)
“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.