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Popularity of the Baby Name Liza

Number of Babies Named Liza

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Liza

The Earliest Celebrity Baby Name Debuts

When a major celebrity chooses an uncommon baby name, there’s a good chance that name will become trendy.

Seems like this might be a modern phenomenon, right? Maybe tied to the rise of the Internet?

Nope. In fact, I bet you’ll be surprised at just how far back it goes.

Let’s take a look at celebrity baby names through the decades, focusing on those that inspired debuts on the SSA’s baby name list. (To debut, a rare names needs to be given to at least 5 babies of one gender or the other in a single year.)

1940s

Jerilyn Jessel
Lois Andrews and baby Jerilyn
Which baby name was the very first to debut on the charts thanks to a celebrity baby?

The answer depends on how strict you want to be about spelling.

If you exact-spelling debuts are what you want, the first I know of doesn’t appear until the late ’40s.

If variant-spelling debuts are okay, though, there’s a celebrity baby name from the early ’40s that inspired at whopping six of them:

Jerilyn

In October of 1941, actor/comedian George Jessel (43 years old) and showgirl Lois Andrews (17) welcomed a baby girl named Jerilyn.

The name Jerilyn itself had already been on the list for a few years, but usage rose significantly in both 1941 and 1942:

  • 1943: 182 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 558th]
  • 1942: 325 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 397th]
  • 1941: 135 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 608th]
  • 1940: 10 baby girls named Jerilyn

The popularity of similar names like Jerrilyn and Jerelyn also increased, and six other variants appeared on the national list for the very first time in either 1941 or 1942 (asterisks denote debuts):

Name 1940 1941 1942 1943
Jerilynn x 56* 162 58
Jerrilynn x 9* 38 19
Gerilyn x x 15* 5
Jerilynne x x 7* x
Jarilyn x x 6* x
Geralynn x x 5* x

In fact, Jerilynn and Gerilyn were the top baby name debuts of 1941 and 1942, respectively.

I was skeptical about this one for a while, as I’d never heard of George Jessel before. Was he really high-profile enough for his baby to have that sort influence? Turns out he was indeed a popular entertainer from the ’20s until at least the ’50s. He’s the one responsible for the “Garland” part of Judy Garland’s stage name, and some sources even claim he invented the Bloody Mary.

Even more variants of Jerilyn (e.g., Gerilynn) debuted during the ’40s and early ’50s, when young Jerilyn was being mentioned in newspaper articles and appearing on TV and in films with her father. Here’s a fundraising film from 1953, for instance, featuring both George and Jerilyn.

Jerilyn Jessel’s influence on the U.S baby names was impressive, but, technically speaking, she didn’t put “Jerilyn” on the map.

Yasmin

The first exact-spelling celebrity baby name debut was Yasmin, which appeared on the list in 1949.

In December of 1949, actor Rita Hayworth and her husband Prince Aly Khan welcomed a baby girl named Yasmin. The same year, the baby name Yasmin appeared on the SSA’s list for the very first time.

(The name Yasmin was late addition to the post. Thank you, Becca!)

1950s

Elizabeth Taylor and daughter Liza on the cover of LIFE in 1957
Liz & Liza in 1957 © LIFE
At least four of the baby names that debuted during the 1950s were inspired by celebrity babies:

Romina

In October of 1951, actors Tyrone Power and Linda Christian welcomed a baby girl named Romina. The same year, the baby name Romina appeared on the SSA’s list for the very first time.

Taryn

In September of 1953, Power and Christian welcomed their second baby girl, Taryn, whose name was likely inspired by “Tyrone.” The same year, the baby name Taryn debuted on the list.

Seneca

In November of 1956, boxer Floyd Patterson and his wife Sandra welcomed a baby girl named Seneca. The same year, the traditionally male name Seneca debuted on the list as a female name. Patterson said the name was inspired by a street sign.

Monsita

In October of 1958, actor/singer Rosemary Clooney and actor José Ferrer welcomed a baby girl named Monsita — their fifth child. The same year, Monsita debuted. It fell off the list the very next year, though, making it a one-hit wonder.

Honorable mentions from the ’50s include:

  • Liza, which became more popular after Liz Taylor named her daughter Liza in 1957.
  • Tyrone, which became more popular after Tyrone Power named his third child Tyrone in 1959. The increased usage could also have been influenced by the death of the actor himself the same year, though.

1960s

Casey & Timolin Cole in 1963
Casey & Timolin Cole in 1963 © Ebony
At least four of the baby names that debuted during the 1960s were inspired by celebrity babies:

Timolin

In September of 1961, singer of Nat King Cole and his wife Maria welcomed identical twin baby girls named Timolin and Casey. The same year, the baby name Timolin debuted on the list.

Xan

In September of 1965, actor/director John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands welcomed a baby girl named Alexandra “Xan” Cassavetes. The same year, the baby name Xan debuted on the list.

Maryum

In June of 1968, boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife Belinda welcomed a baby girl named Maryum. The same year, the baby name Maryum debuted on the list.

Chastity

In March of 1969, singers Cher and Sonny Bono, welcomed a baby girl named Chastity. The same year, the baby name Chastity debuted on the list. In May of 2010, Chastity legally changed genders and adopted the name Chaz.

1970s

Rasheda & Jamillah Ali in 1971
The Alis and babies Rasheda & Jamillah in 1971 © Ebony
At least eight of the baby names that debuted during the 1970s were inspired by celebrity babies:

Rasheda

In August of 1970, boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife Belinda welcomed twin baby girls named Rasheda and Jamillah. The same year, the baby name Rasheda debuted on the list.

(An Ebony article from 1971 misspelled her name “Reeshemah.” The same year, there was a spike in the usage of Reeshemah and a dip in the usage of Rasheda.)

Ayanna

In 1971, comedian/activist Dick Gregory and his wife Lillian welcomed a baby girl named Ayanna. The same year, the baby name Ayanna debuted on the list.

Yohance

In July of 1973, Dick Gregory and Lillian welcomed a baby boy named Yohance. The same year, the baby name Yohance debuted on the list.

(I wrote more about baby names in the Gregory family a few years ago.)

Kidada

In March of 1974, musician/producer Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton welcomed a baby girl named Kidada. The same year, the baby name Kidada debuted on the list.

Taryll

In August of 1975, singer Tito Jackson (of The Jackson 5) and his wife Dee Dee welcomed a baby boy named Taryll. The same year, the baby name Taryll debuted on the list.

Turkessa

In April of 1975, singer Mary Wilson (of The Supremes) and her husband Pedro welcomed a baby girl named Turkessa. The same year, the baby name Turkessa debuted on the list. Turkessa was just 3 babies away from being the top baby name debut of the year. Here’s how Mary came up with the name:

Pedro brought me a beautiful plant. I asked him was it was called. “Turquesa,” he replied, “Spanish for turquoise.” So we named our daughter Turkessa.

Chudney

In November of 1975, singer Diana Ross (also of The Supremes) and her husband Robert welcomed a baby girl named Chudney. The next year, the baby name Chudney debuted on the list. Here’s how Diana came up with the name:

Friends kept suggesting popular names like Courtney, but so many girl babies were getting that. I suddenly thought of something I liked very much — chutney. Only I didn’t know how to spell it — I put a ‘d’ where the ‘t’ should have been on the birth certificate. And that’s how my little girl became Chudney!

Katiria

In 1978, Puerto Rican dancer/singer Iris Chacón and her husband Junno welcomed a baby girl named Katiria. The same year, the baby name Katiria debuted on the list. Most of these babies were born in New York.

1980s

Condola Rashad in 1987
The Rashads and baby Condola
© Ebony
At least three of the baby names that debuted during the 1980s were inspired by celebrity babies, and at least one was inspired by a celebrity grandbaby:

Rishawn

In September of 1984, singer Gladys Knight didn’t have a baby, but her son James (b. 1962) and his wife Michelene did. They welcomed a boy named Rishawn. The next year, the baby name Rishawn debuted on the list.

Shakari

In November of 1986, football player Willie Gault and his wife Dainnese welcomed a baby girl named Shakari. The next year, the baby name Shakari debuted on the list.

Condola

I wrote about Condola a few months ago, but here’s a recap: In December of 1986, actress Phylicia Rashad and sportscaster Ahmad Rashad welcomed a baby girl named Condola. The next year, the baby name Condola debuted on the list.

Satchel

In December of 1987, filmmaker/actor Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow welcomed a baby boy named Satchel. The next year, the baby name Satchel debuted on the list. He now goes by Ronan, and rumor has it that he is *possibly* the biological son of Frank Sinatra.

1990s

Demi, pre-Scout, on cover of Vanity Fair, August 1991
Demi Moore and baby Scout (kinda)
© Vanity Fair
At least three of the baby names the debuted during the 1990s were inspired by celebrity babies:

Scout

In July of 1991, actors Demi Moore and Bruce Willis welcomed a baby girl named Scout. (And in August, that famous image of 7-months-pregnant Demi ran on the cover of Vanity Fair.) The next year, the baby name Scout debuted on the list, for both genders.

Aquinnah

In February of 1995, actor Michael J. Fox and his wife Tracy welcomed twin baby girls named Aquinnah and Schuyler. The same year, the baby name Aquinnah debuted on the list. (I wrote more about the name Aquinnah a few years ago.)

Sailor

In July of 1998, model Christie Brinkley and her husband Peter welcomed a baby girl named Sailor. The same year, the baby name Sailor debuted on the list as a girl name. It had debuted as a boy name the year before.

Honorable mentions from the ’90s include:

  • Seven, which became more popular after Erykah Badu named her son Seven in 1997.
  • Zion, which became more popular after Lauryn Hill named her son Zion in 1997.
  • Selah, which became more popular after Lauryn Hill named her daughter Selah in 1998.

2000s

Angelina and Maddox Jolie in 2002
Angelina Jolie and baby Maddox
© People
At least five of the baby names that debuted during the 2000s (the decade) were inspired by celebrity babies:

Eja

In August of 2001, singer Shania Twain and her husband Robert welcomed a baby boy named Eja. The same year, the baby name Eja debuted on the list (as a girl name).

Xen

In August of 2001, actors Tisha Campbell-Martin and Duane Martin welcomed a baby boy named Xen. The same year, the baby name Xen debuted on the list.

Diezel

In March of 2003, singer Toni Braxton and musician Keri Lewis welcomed a baby boy named Diezel. The same year, the baby name Diezel debuted on the list.

Moxie

In June of 2005, magician Penn Jillette and his wife Emily welcomed a baby girl named Moxie (middle name CrimeFighter). The next year, the baby name Moxie debuted on the list.

Dannielynn

In September of 2006, model Anna Nicole Smith and her partner Larry Birkhead welcomed a baby girl named Dannielynn. The next year, the baby name Dannielynn debuted on the list.

Honorable mentions from the ’00s include:

  • Massai, which became more popular after Nia Long named her son Massai in 2000.
  • Rocco, which became more popular after Madonna and Guy Ritchie named their son Rocco in 2000.
  • Denim, which became more popular after Toni Braxton named her son Denim in 2001.
  • Maddox, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie named her adopted son Maddox in 2002.
  • Carys, which became more popular after Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas named their daughter Carys in 2003.
  • Stellan, which became more popular after Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany named their son Stellan in 2003.
  • Apple, which became more popular after Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their daughter Apple in 2004.
  • Coco, which became more popular after Courtney Cox and David Arquette named their daughter Coco in 2004.
  • Zahara, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie named her adopted daughter Zahara in 2005.
  • Moses, which became more popular after Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their son Moses in 2006.
  • Kingston, which became more popular after Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale named their son Kingston in 2006.
  • Suri, which became more popular after Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes named their daughter Suri in 2006.
  • Shiloh, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their daughter Shiloh in 2006.
  • Pax, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their adopted son Pax in 2007.
  • Harlow, which became more popular after Nicole Richie and Joel Madden named their daughter Harlow in 2008.
  • Knox & Vivienne, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their twins Knox and Vivienne in 2008.
  • Honor, which became more popular after Jessica Alba named her daughter Honor in 2008.
  • Nahla, which became more popular after Halle Berry named her daughter Nahla in 2008.
  • Bronx, which became more popular after Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz named their son Bronx in 2008.

*

The 2010s are only half over and already we’ve seen more celebrity baby-inspired debuts than in any other decade — Naleigh, Aleph (for boys), Locklyn, Aaradhya, Sebella, Sparrow (for boys), Viaan, Naiovy, Eisele, and no doubt others I’ve missed. Follow along as we uncover more year by year in the Pop Culture Baby Names 2010s category.

Sources:

  • Manners, Dorothy. “Off the Grapevine.” Toledo Blade 14 Feb. 1977: P-3.
  • Wilson, Mary and Patricia Romanowski. Supreme Faith. New York: Harper Collins, 1991.

Popular Baby Names in Malta, 2014

According to data from Malta’s National Statistics Office, the most popular name-groups in Malta in 2014 were Elena/Elenia/Helena/Ella and Luke/Luca/Lucas.

Here are Malta’s top 10 girl and boy name-groups of 2014:

Girl Names Boy Names
  1. Elena/Elenia/Helena/Ella, 97 baby girls
  2. Julia/Yulia/Julianne, 72
  3. Emma/Emmanuela/Ema, 70
  4. Eliza/Elisa/Elizabeth/Elise, 69
  5. Catherine/Katrina/Kate/Katya, 46
  6. Maya/Mia/Myah, 44
  7. Lea/Leah/Leia, 42
  8. Emilia/Emily/Emelie, 41
  9. Amy/Aimee, 39
    • Maria/Marija/Mariah/Marie, 37 [tie]
    • Anna/Hannah/Ann, 37 [tie]
  1. Luke/Luca/Lucas, 98 baby boys
  2. Matthew/Matthias/Matteo, 97
  3. Jacob/Jake, 77
  4. Zachary/Zak/Zack, 59
  5. Michael/Miguel/Mikhail, 53
    • Liam/William, 51 [tie]
    • John/Jean/Jonathan/Juan/Gan, 51 [tie]
  6. Benjamin/Ben, 51
    • Kaiden/Kayden/Kai ,46 [tie]
    • Alexander/Alessandro/Alec, 46 [tie]
  7. Andrew/Andreas/Andre/Andy, 45
  8. Joseph/Beppe/Giuseppe/Josef, 40

Down in 15th place on the boys’ side is “Yannick/Yan” — both are versions of John, and yet they’re not part of the John group, which is tied for 6th.

Speaking of strange things…

The current Maltese birth registration system does not allow for Maltese fonts, which essentially means that names with ċ such as Ċikku or Ċensa; with a ġ such as Ġorġ or Ġanna; and with a ż such as Liża or Ġużi, are out – or at least will be recorded without the essential dots which distinguish the Maltese phonetical sound.

I’ve seen governments (e.g., NWT, California) make excuses about not being able to render minority/ethnic names properly on birth certificates, but I’ve never heard of a country that couldn’t render names from its own national language.

Oh, Malta.

Here are the 2013, 2012, 2009, 2007 and 2006 rankings.

Sources: Naming Babies – National Statistics Office – Malta, Luke and Elena remain most popular names given to newborns, ‘Dotty’ system bars patriot baby names

Baby Name Battle – 7 Hungarian Girl Names

Katinka, Sari, Ella, Mici, Terka, Liza and Klara were the names of the seven sisters in the lost silent film The Seven Sisters (1915), which was based on a Hungarian play.

The Seven Sisters (1915)
Scene from The Seven Sisters (1915).

A 1916 advertisement for the movie, which was a vehicle for silent film actress Marguerite Clark, offered the following summary:

The story is as simple and as sweet and dainty as Little Marguerite herself. She is the fourth of a family of seven sisters. Under an old Hungarian marriage law she must not marry until the elder sisters have gone off. How she and her lover clear the way with the aid of that young man’s marriageable friends affords scope for some delightful comedy amid the quaintest and most beautiful old-world surroundings ever portrayed.

The names Katinka, Sari, Ella, Mici, Terka, Liza and Klara are Hungarian versions (or diminutives of Hungarian versions) of the names Katherine, Sarah, Eleanor (or some other El- or -ella name), Mitzi, Theresa, Elizabeth and Clara.

And now for today’s question…

Which Hungarian girl name do you like best?

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Sources:

  • Bacon, George Vaux. “Seven Sisters.” Photoplay Magazine Sept. 1915: 112-120.
  • Advertisements.” New Zealand Herald 21 Aug. 1916: 12.

Girl Name Battle – Milly, Dorcas, Ruth, Martha, Liza, Sarah, Alice

seven brides seven brothersThe seven brides in the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) are named Milly, Dorcas, Ruth, Martha, Liza, Sarah and Alice.

(The corresponding brothers are named Adam, Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ephraim, Frank(incense) and Gideon.)

Which name do you like best?

I like...

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Names Popular During the Victorian Era

Tuesday’s post about the Victorian-style Tylney Hall Hotel reminded me of a list of Victorian-era names that I’ve had bookmarked forever.

The list was created by amateur genealogist G. M. Atwater as a resource for writers. It contains names and name combinations that were commonly seen in the U.S. from the 1840s to the 1890s. Below is the full list (with a few minor changes).

Victorian Era Female Names Victorian Era Male Names
  • Abigale / Abby
  • Ada
  • Adella
  • Agnes
  • Allie
  • Almira / Almyra
  • Alva
  • America
  • Amelia
  • Ann / Annie
  • Arrah
  • Beatrice
  • Bernice
  • Charity
  • Charlotte
  • Chastity
  • Claire
  • Constance
  • Cynthia
  • Dorothy / Dot
  • Edith
  • Edna
  • Edwina
  • Ella
  • Eleanor
  • Ellie
  • Elizabeth / Eliza / Liza / Lizzy / Bess / Bessie / Beth / Betsy
  • Elvira
  • Emma
  • Esther
  • Ethel
  • Eudora
  • Eva
  • Fidelia
  • Frances / Fanny
  • Flora
  • Florence
  • Geneve
  • Genevieve
  • Georgia
  • Gertrude / Gertie
  • Gladys
  • Grace
  • Hannah
  • Hattie
  • Helen
  • Helene
  • Henrietta / Hettie / Ettie
  • Hester
  • Hope
  • Hortence
  • Isabell / Isabella
  • Jane
  • Jennie
  • Jessamine
  • Josephine
  • Judith
  • Julia
  • Juliet
  • Katherine / Kate
  • Laura
  • Leah
  • Lenora
  • Letitia
  • Lila
  • Lilly
  • Lorena
  • Lorraine
  • Lottie
  • Louise / Louisa
  • Lucy
  • Lulu
  • Lydia
  • Mahulda
  • Margaret / Peggie
  • Mary / Molly / Polly
  • Mary Elizabeth
  • Mary Frances
  • Martha
  • Matilda / Mattie
  • Maude
  • Maxine / Maxie
  • Mercy
  • Mildred
  • Minerva
  • Missouri
  • Myrtle
  • Nancy
  • Natalie
  • Nellie / Nelly
  • Nettie
  • Nora
  • Orpha
  • Patsy
  • Parthena
  • Permelia
  • Phoebe
  • Philomena
  • Preshea
  • Rachel
  • Rebecca / Becky
  • Rhoda / Rhody
  • Rowena
  • Rufina
  • Ruth
  • Samantha
  • Sally
  • Sarah
  • Sarah Ann
  • Sarah Elizabeth
  • Savannah
  • Selina
  • Sophronia
  • Stella
  • Theodosia / Theda
  • Vertiline / Verd
  • Victoria
  • Virginia / Ginny
  • Vivian
  • Winnifred / Winnie
  • Zona
  • Zylphia
  • Aaron
  • Abraham / Abe
  • Alan / Allen
  • Albert
  • Alexander
  • Alonzo
  • Ambrose
  • Amon
  • Amos
  • Andrew / Drew / Andy
  • Aquilla
  • Archibald / Archie
  • Arnold
  • Asa
  • August / Augustus / Gus
  • Barnabas / Barney
  • Bartholomew / Bart
  • Benjamin
  • Bennet
  • Benedict
  • Bernard
  • Bertram / Bert
  • Buford
  • Byron
  • Calvin
  • Cephas
  • Charles / Charley / Charlie
  • Christopher
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Clarence
  • Clement / Clem
  • Clinton / Clint
  • Cole
  • Columbus / Lom / Lum
  • Commodore Perry
  • Daniel / Dan
  • David
  • Edmund
  • Edward / Ned
  • Edwin
  • Eldon
  • Eli
  • Elijah
  • Elisha
  • Emmett
  • Enoch
  • Ezekiel / Zeke
  • Ezra
  • Francis / Frank
  • Franklin
  • Frederick / Fred
  • Gabriel / Gabe
  • Garrett
  • George
  • George Washington
  • Gideon
  • Gilbert / Gil
  • Granville
  • Harland
  • Harrison
  • Harold / Harry
  • Harvey
  • Henry / Hank
  • Hiram
  • Horace
  • Horatio
  • Hugh
  • Isaiah
  • Israel
  • Isaac / Ike
  • Isaac Newton
  • Jacob / Jake
  • James / Jim
  • Jasper
  • Jefferson / Jeff
  • Jedediah / Jed
  • Jeptha
  • Jesse
  • Joel
  • John / Jack
  • John Paul
  • John Wesley
  • Jonathan
  • Joseph / Josephus
  • Josiah
  • Joshua
  • Julian
  • Julius
  • Lafayette / Lafe
  • Lawrence / Larry
  • Leander
  • Les / Lester / Leslie
  • Lewis / Lew / Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Matthew
  • Marcellus
  • Mark
  • Martin
  • Martin Luther
  • Masheck
  • Maurice
  • Maxwell
  • Merrill
  • Meriwether
  • Meriwether Lewis
  • Michael / Mike
  • Micajah / Cage
  • Mordecai
  • Morgan
  • Morris
  • Nathaniel / Nathan / Nate / Nat
  • Newton / Newt
  • Nicholas / Nick
  • Nimrod
  • Ninian
  • Obediah
  • Octavius
  • Ora / Oral
  • Orville
  • Oscar
  • Owen
  • Paul
  • Patrick / Pat
  • Patrick Henry
  • Paul
  • Perry
  • Peter
  • Pleasant
  • Ralph
  • Raymond
  • Reuben
  • Robert / Bob
  • Robert Lee
  • Richard / Rich / Dick
  • Roderick
  • Rudolph
  • Rufus
  • Samuel
  • Sam Houston
  • Seth
  • Silas
  • Simon
  • Simeon
  • Stanley / Stan
  • Stephen
  • Thaddeus
  • Thomas / Tom
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Theodore / Ted
  • Timothy / Tim
  • Ulysses
  • Uriah
  • Victor
  • Walter
  • Warren
  • Washington
  • Wilfred
  • William / Will / Bill / Billy
  • Willie
  • Zachariah
  • Zebulon
  • Zedock

Which female name and male name do you like best?

Source: Victorian Era Names, A Writer’s Guide

Celebrity Baby Name Drama from the 1940s

Mary Martin and daughter Heller, circa 1954.
Mary Martin and daughter Heller, circa 1954. © Sony
Broadway star Mary Martin welcomed a daughter on November 4, 1941. The baby was named Mary Heller. When Martin talked to the press about the newborn, though, she left out the name Mary and only mentioned the name Heller.

The actress-mother said they would name the child Heller.

“Down in Texas,” she explained, “Heller means a pert, vivacious youngster.”

One reporter decided to stir up trouble by asking residents of Weatherford, Texas — Mary Martin’s hometown — how they felt about the name Heller. The article was titled, in part, “Texas Town Shocked.”

[Mrs. Martin] announced immediately that she and her husband, Richard Halliday, would name her “Heller” because “that’s what folks in Weatherford call a particularly pert and vivacious girl.”

But the unanimous–and anonymous–consensus here was:

“Why I never heard the likes of that. Little girls aren’t called Heller in Weatherford.”

More anonymous quotes from Weatherford residents:

(1) “A name like that might do in Hollywood but never in Weatherford. We’re too conservative and too conventional.”

(2) “Mary was a little lady and a well-mannered child, certainly not a little devil and I don’t know where she could have gotten an idea like that.”

(3) “I think it’s not a very nice name for a girl to have.”

(4) “It’s probably just one of Mary’s passing whims. When the baby is christened, I’ll bet it will be as Mary and not as Heller.”

Oh, the drama!

The person who offered that last quote was correct, technically, but Mary Heller — who went on to play the role of Liza in Peter Pan with her mother several times — always went by the name Heller.

(In a People article from the early ’80s, Mary Martin altered her story on the origin of Heller. She said the name was inspired by the fact that Heller “kicked like mad” before she was born.)

Sources:

  • Faber, Nancy. “Mary Martin.” People 23 Nov. 1981.
  • “Mary Martin Names Daughter ‘Heller;’ Texas Town Shocked.” Reading Eagle 5 Nov. 1941: 14.
  • “Mary Will Name Baby “Heller.”” St. Petersburg Times 5 Nov. 1941: 13.

Image: Peter Pan – Original Broadway Cast 1954

Baby Names from Cockney Rhyming Slang?

Here’s something I’ve never seen before.

Last month, Canadian singer Bryan Adams and his girlfriend welcomed their second baby girl, Lula RosyLea. Lula’s middle name is a reference to her time of birth, as per this tweet by Adams:

Lula Rosylea arrived @ teatime this wk. a cup of ‘rosie lee’ = ‘cup of tea’ in cockney. Lula comes from Gene Vincent’s song Be-Bop-A-Lula

This is the first baby I know of to be named via Cockney rhyming slang.

What’s Cockney rhyming slang? It involves word substitution based on rhyme. Typically, a word in a sentence is replaced with a rhyming phrase, and then the rhyming part of the phrase is dropped. This makes the resulting sentence hard for those not in-the-know to understand.

Here’s an example: “Use your loaf.” It’s really “use your head,” but the phrase loaf of bread was used instead of head, and then loaf of bread was shortened to just loaf. Hence, “use your loaf.” Get it?

Speaking of bread, if you’ve ever heard people use the slang word bread to mean money, that’s CRS too. Money rhymes with the old expression bread and honey, which shortens to bread.

So that’s how Bryan Adams turned tea into Rosie Lee, which is a common CRS rhyme for tea. (And now, if you’re ever in London and someone asks you if you want a cup of Rosie, you’ll know what they’re talking about!) “Rosie Lee” refers to American burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee (1911-1970).

I thought this was a rather cool way to come up with a baby name, so I’ve collected a few dozen other well-known CRS rhymes that involve names. On the left you’ll find the original word, in the middle is the name/phrase substitution, and on the right is the shortened version.

  • back – rhymes with Cilla Black – shortens to Cilla
  • ball – rhymes with Albert Hall – shortens to Albert
  • belly – rhymes with Darby Kelly – shortens to Darby
  • brake – rhymes with Veronica Lake – shortens to Veronica
  • cake – rhymes with Sexton Blake – shortens to Sexton
  • coat – rhymes with Billy goat – shortens to Billy
  • curry – rhymes with Ruby Murray – shortens to Ruby (if these parents had had a girl instead of a boy, Ruby would have been a great option)
  • door – rhymes with Rory O’Moore – shortens to Rory
  • fairy – rhymes with Julian Clairy – shortens to Julian
  • fish – rhymes with Lillian Gish – shortens to Lillian
  • gin – rhymes with Anne Boleyn – shortens to Ann
  • gin – rhymes with Vera Lynn – shortens to Vera
  • ice – rhymes with Vincent Price – shortens to Vincent
  • kettle – rhymes with Hansel and Gretel – shortens to Hansel
  • lisp – rhymes with Quentin Crisp – shortens to Quentin
  • mess – rhymes with Elliot Ness – shortens to Elliot
  • neck – rhymes with Gregory Peck – shortens to Gregory
  • old man (father) – rhymes with Peter Pan – shortens to Peter
  • rail – rhymes with Toby Ale – shortens to Toby
  • Stella (brand of beer) – rhymes with Yuri Geller – shortens to Yuri
  • Stella – rhymes with Nelson Mandela – shortens to Nelson
  • table – rhymes with Betty Grable – shortens to Betty
  • tea – rhymes with Bruce Lee – shortens to Bruce
  • tea – rhymes with Kiki Dee – shortens to Kiki
  • tea – rhymes with Rosie Lee – shortens to Rosie
  • telly – rhymes with Liza Minnelli – shortens to Liza (e.g., “What’s on the Liza?”)
  • trouble – rhymes with Barney Rubble – shortens to Barney
  • 2:2 (lower second-class honors) – rhymes with Desmond Tutu – shortens to Desmond
  • undies – rhymes with Eddie Grundies – shortens to Eddie
  • wedding – rhymes with Otis Redding – shortens to Otis

I think Darby (for “belly”) might be an especially tempting one baby namers, no? :)

Bryan’s first baby girl, Mirabella Bunny, was born last Easter.

Sources: @bryanadams, February 14, 2013, Cockney Rhyming Slang