But first: Happy birthday, Elvis Presley! (He would have been 85 today.)
So now, think back to 2018. Think of all the pop culture that caught your attention. Think of movies, music, TV shows, social media, sports, video games, news, politics, products, and so forth.
Which of these things had an influence on U.S. baby names last year, do you think? Which baby names will see higher usage (or appear for the very first time) in the 2018 data thanks to 2018 pop culture?
Here are some names to start with:
Adeya – from celebrity baby Adeya (born in March to Kehlani)
Alita – from the movie Alita: Battle Angel
Archie – from royal baby Archie (born in May to Harry & Meghan)
Billie – from singer Billie Eilish
Brixton – from the movie Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Deckard – from the movie Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
The Edge of Night (1956-1984) was a television soap opera with heavy crime drama elements (e.g., courtroom scenes). It was based directly on the radio drama Perry Mason (1943-1955). In fact, the central character of EoN — a police officer/lawyer named Mike Karr — was played by actor John Larkin, who had been the voice of Perry during the last eight years of the radio show.
EoN was a popular soap, ranking anywhere from 2nd to 6th from its inception until the early 1970s. More importantly, though, several EoN characters/actors ended up influencing the U.S. baby name charts.
First we have Teal, which debuted in the data in 1957:
1962: 24 baby girls named Teal
1961: 35 baby girls named Teal
1960: 28 baby girls named Teal
1959: 21 baby girls named Teal
1958: 28 baby girls named Teal
1957: 14 baby girls named Teal [debut]
Teal was inspired by actress Teal Ames, who played Mike’s girlfriend/wife Sara Karr on the show from 1956 to 1961. When Teal decided to quit show business, the character was killed off Edge of Night in a car crash. “CBS received so many anxious and hysterical calls after this episode that actress Teal Ames had to go on the air the following day to assure her fans that she was still very much alive.”
(That said, another potential influence on the name was Japanese-American jazz singer Teal Joy — real name Elsie Itashiki — who put out an album and started appearing on TV in late 1957.)
Next is Laurieann, which debuted in 1959. (And, a year later, the similar name Laurieanne popped up.)
1964: 25 baby girls named Laurieann
1963: 39 baby girls named Laurieann
1962: 35 baby girls named Laurieann
1961: 23 baby girls named Laurieann
1960: 21 baby girls named Laurieann
1959: 5 baby girls named Laurieann [debut]
No doubt Laurieann and Laurieanne were given a nudge by Laurie, which was at peak popularity in the early ’60s (perhaps thanks to Piper Laurie). But the more direct influence was fictional Laurie Ann Karr, Mike and Sara’s only daughter, who was born in the storyline in September of 1959.
Ratings for EoN weren’t as good from the mid-1970s onward, but by then the show was becoming known for something entirely different: unusual character names. These included Taffy, Lobo, Morlock, Cookie, Gunther, Didi, Smiley, Raven, and Schuyler. (Raven and Sky were a couple, of course.) And several of these unusual names got a boost in real life, thanks to the show.
For instance, character Draper Scott was featured in the storyline from 1975 to 1981. The baby name Draper re-emerged in the SSA data in 1976 and saw peak usage in 1980:
1981: 40 baby boys named Draper
1980: 46 baby boys named Draper
1979: 39 baby boys named Draper
1978: 36 baby boys named Draper
1977: 35 baby boys named Draper
1976: 15 baby boys named Draper
And female character Winter Austin, who was on the show from 1978 to 1979, pushed the baby name Winter into the top 1,000 for the first time in the late ’70s:
1980: 140 baby girls named Winter
1979: 241 baby girls named Winter [rank: 705th]
1978: 137 baby girls named Winter [rank: 1,000th]
1977: 29 baby girls named Winter
Were you a regular viewer of The Edge of Night? Did you have any opinions on the character names?
She’s called Finch because we call all of our dogs after characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. So we have had a Scout, a Radley, and a Harper. And let me tell you, they are not happy about Finch’s arrival.
From a 1995 interview with R.E.M. vocalist Michael Stipe, whose paternal grandfather was a Methodist minister:
Well, Methodism was started by John Wesley, who was, in his way, a really radical guy who believed in a lot of individual responsibility. It’s not the kind of religion that’s right around your throat. Actually, I was named after him, John Michael Stipe.
From an article about Lara Prescott, author of the new book The Secrets We Kept, a fictional account of the dangers of publishing Doctor Zhivago in the 1950s:
You could say she was born to write this historical novel: Prescott’s mother named her after the doomed heroine from her favorite movie, the 1965 adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s epic.
Fun fact :Always wanted a daughter and I always used to say imma name her HennyLynn. It’s a cute mix of my sisters name but then I started calling my sister HennyLynn then it became one of the nicknames I gave my sister so it woulda been weird naming my daughter that .
From an article about a Georgia man whose name, Neal, came from a POW bracelet:
His father, the late John Carpenter, was an aircraft mechanic in the Navy and was deployed overseas at the time. He arrived home in time for his son’s birth. When it became necessary to scramble and find a boy’s name, John Carpenter looked down at the POW/MIA bracelet he was wearing.
The engraved name was Neal Clinton Ward Jr. He had been listed as Missing in Action since June 13, 1969. An airman, his plane had been shot down over Laos in the jungles of Southeast Asia, nine days before his 24th birthday.
The Carpenters named their son Neal Ward Carpenter.
(Neal’s mom had been convinced the baby would be a girl. Neal said: “I was going to be April Michelle, and that’s all there was to it.”)
Research professor and author Brené Brown on her unique name:
Growing up, every time we drove from San Antonio to Houston, going to Stuckey’s — all these places where you buy monogrammed shirts and glasses — I was so put out because there was never a “Brené.” So I think I made up in my head that it was French. And then I hitchhiked across Europe after high school and I got to France and I was like, “Je suis Brené!” And they were like, “What kind of name is that?” They’d never heard of it. My parents just made it up. I had a whole narrative in high school — “When I bust out of this suburban Spring, Texas, high school I’m going to go back to France where my people are!” But, no, it’s not French — it’s south side San Antonio.
When your middle name is ‘The’, it means you’re it. The only one. The one that defines the category. I think that focus is a choice, and that the result of appropriate focus is you earn the middle name.
Oklahoma-born country singer Reba McEntire is one of four siblings:
Alice, b. 1951
Del Stanley, “Pake” (rhymes with rake), b. 1953
Reba Nell, b. 1955
Martha Susan, “Susie,” b. 1957
Reba was named after her maternal grandmother, but the story of Pake’s nickname is a bit more interesting. Here’s how their mother Jacqueline starts the story:
Our oldest daughter, Alice, was named “Pedro Joe” long before her birth. Her father, Clark [veteran rodeo cowboy and inductee in the Rodeo Hall of Fame], would often write home on the road because we didn’t have a phone.
He’d say, “How is Pedro Joe?” and, if I knew where he was going to be, I’d write back to the next rodeo he was entering and tell the prospective father that he was just fine. Well, when the baby came, she was a little girl. End of Pedro Joe.
The same thing happened with their second child, who was called “Pecos Pete” or “Pake” before he was born. In his case, though, the name was retained. The formal name his parents chose for him was Del Stanley (after rodeo stars Del Haverty and Stanley Gomez), but the birth certificate reads: “Del Stanley (Pake).”
The McEntire’s in utero nicknaming tradition wasn’t carried on with Reba or Susie.
Pake went on to have three daughters: Autumn (born on the first day of autumn), Calamity (named after frontierswoman Calamity Jane), and Chism (named after cattle baron John Chisum).
Sharpe, Jerry. “Pake McEntire heads for success on his own.” Pittsburgh Press 1 Jun. 1986: 101.
Smith, Lisa. “Pake McEntire” Gavin Report August 8, 1986: 39.
Daniel, Dionis, Peter, Stephen, Judith, Susanna, Anna, Mehitable, Hepzibah, Paul
Which of the above names do you like best? Are there any you don’t like at all?
*Dionis’s name is evidently a truncated form of Dionysia, which derives from Dionysius, which originally referred to a devotee of the Greek god Dionysos. The names Dennis and Denise are also derivatives of Dionysius.
**Nantucket’s Oldest House, also called the Jethro Coffin House, was built in 1686 as a wedding gift for Jethro Coffin.