How popular is the baby name Katharine in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Katharine.
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The rare name Turhan first appeared in the national dataset in 1944:
1947: 7 baby boys named Turhan
1946: 13 baby boys named Turhan
1945: 6 baby boys named Turhan
1944: 8 baby boys named Turhan [debut]
Hollywood actor Turhan Bey, who was a half-Turkish, half-Czech, Austrian-born actor who typically played exotic characters in Hollywood films during the 1940s and early 1950s. Fan magazines called him the “Turkish Delight.”
He was at the peak of his fame in the mid-1940s, so it’s hard to link this to one particular movie. That said, his name may have been boosted onto the charts in 1944 specifically thanks to the movie Dragon Seed, in which he played Lao Er (the husband of Jade, played by Katharine Hepburn).
He was born Turhan Gilbert Selahattin Sahultavy. The name Turhan, primarily (but not always) used for males, is “an old Turkish name meaning chief or nobleman.” And the Turkish word bey has a similar meaning: “ruler” or “chief.”
What are your thoughts on the baby name Turhan?
Fortna, Benjamin C. “The Ottoman Educational Legacy.” Turkey’s Engagement with Modernity: Conflict and Change in the Twentieth Century, ed. by C. Kerslake, K. Öktem, P. Robins, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, pp. 15-26.
Room, Adrian. Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins. 5th ed. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2010.
Here’s one I didn’t expect: the baby name Jade, very trendy during the last quarter of the 20th century, was put on the onomastic map in the U.S. thanks to one of the strangest roles of Katharine Hepburn’s career.
1947: 18 baby girls named Jade
1946: 32 baby girls named Jade
1945: 37 baby girls named Jade
1944: 6 baby girls named Jade [debut]
The war drama Dragon Seed, released in the summer of 1944, told the tale of Chinese peasants fighting off Japanese invaders during 1937, at the start of the during the Second Sino-Japanese War. It was based on the 1942 novel of the same name by Pearl S. Buck.
Hepburn played Jade, a Chinese woman who led the resistance in her village. (These days it would seem pretty out-of-touch — or possibly racist — to cast a non-Asian actor in a role like this one. Back then, though, it was the convention.)
After getting this boost in the mid-1940s, the name Jade stuck around in the data. In fact, it ended up reaching the top 100 for a couple of years in the early 2000s.
Looking for a surname-inspired baby name with a connection to Catholicism?
Here are more than 200 options, most of which come from Catholic Englishmen martyred during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Because the goal was to include as many realistic baby names as possible, I interpreted “surname” and “saint” liberally in some cases. Xavier is not technically a surname, for instance, and many of the folks below are not yet full-fledged saints.
The hyperlinked names will take you to popularity graphs.
It’s hard to pinpoint the origin of the name Cheryl (Cherie + Beryl? Cherry + Beryl?) but it’s clear that the name saw a drastic rise in popularity during the first half of 20th century. Cheryl went from a rarity in the early 1900s to one of the most popular girl names in the U.S. by the mid-1950s.
I doubt Cheryl could have achieved this kind of popularity without a series of pop culture boosts — two caused by the same person, interestingly.
The first (and smallest) boost happened in 1938:
1940: 285 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 408th] – 42 in CA
1939: 289 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 390th] – 49 in CA
1938: 397 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 312th] – 76 in CA
1937: 145 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 563rd] – 16 in CA
1936: 94 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 688th] – 10 in CA
Many of these babies were born in California specifically.
A 19-year-old from Pasadena named Cheryl Walker. In late 1937, she was selected as the 1938 Queen of the Tournament of Roses. Local newspapers (including the Los Angeles Times) talked about Cheryl quite a bit during the last month of 1937 and the first few months of 1938.
She signed a film contract with Paramount around that time, but didn’t have much success in the entertainment industry until five years later.
That’s when she played the romantic lead in the wartime hit Stage Door Canteen, released in the middle of 1943. Dozens of major celebrities — including Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, George Jessel, Gertrude Lawrence, Gypsy Rose Lee, Ethel Merman, Paul Muni, Merle Oberon, Mary Pickford, and Johnny Weissmuller — had cameos in the film, which was one of the highest-grossing of the year.
(Notably, several months before Stage Door Canteen came out, LIFE magazine published a series of photos of the actress along with a short article subtitled “Cheryl Walker rises from stand-in for Veronica Lake to stardom.”)
In both 1943 and 1944, the number of babies named Cheryl increased significantly:
1945: 8,150 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 32nd]
1944: 7,970 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 36th]
1943: 2,878 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 102nd]
1942: 590 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 280th]
1941: 439 baby girls named Cheryl [rank: 311th]
The name of Cheryl’s character, Eileen, also saw increased usage, as did many variants of Cheryl (asterisks denote debuts):
[EDIT, 6/10 – Diana reminded me about Mouseketeer Cheryl, who was on The Mickey Mouse Club from 1956 to 1958. No doubt she contributed to the name’s popularity as well in the mid-to-late ’50s!]
Cheryl became one of the top 20 baby names in the country in 1955, and it remained in the top 20 until 1961, peaking at 13th in 1958.
After that, usage began to decline. Cheryl fell out of the top 50 in 1972, then out of the top 100 in 1980. (This despite a late-1970s uptick inspired by actress Cheryl Ladd, singer Cheryl Lynn, and/or model Cheryl Tiegs.)
[EDIT, 7/7 – Cheryl M. reminded me to include Cheryl Ladd.]
And in 1998, exactly 40 years after nearly reaching the top 10, Cheryl fell out of the top 1,000 entirely.
The top 1,000 baby girl names of 2009 can be found at the SSA website. But what about all the other names that were doled out last year? Those names are also available via the SSA I recently discovered (thanks Kelly!).
Just a few hours ago I posted a list of boy names that didn’t make the top 1,000 last year, but were still given to 100+ babies. Here is the equivalent (and much longer) list of girl names, grouped by the number of babies that received each name:
*Nyasia could have made the top 1,000. In fact, it should have made the top 1,000. It was given to 263 babies, just like the names that ranked 996th-1,000th (Gretchen, Karli, Kloe, Lilyanna and Mireya). But it came in last alphabetically, so in the eyes of the SSA it’s name #1,001. Sad, sad…