“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.
Ohati was a character played by actress Anna May Wong in the film A Trip to Chinatown (1926).
Princess Ojira was a character played by actress Helen Gardner in the film A Princess of Bagdad (1913).
Queen Okalana was a character played by actress Anne Revere in the film Rainbow Island (1944).
Ola Humphrey was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in California in 1874. Her birth name was Pearl Ola Jane Humphrey. Ola was also a character played by actress Lucy Fox in the film What Fools Men Are (1922).
Olago was a character played by actress Sarah Padden in the film Man of Two Worlds (1934).
Olala Ussan was a character played by actress Billie Dove in the film The Thrill Chaser (1923).
Olalla was a character name in the films The Wandering Jew (1923) and The Wandering Jew (1933), both of which were based upon the same stage play.
O-Lan was a character played by actress Luise Rainer in the film The Good Earth (1937), which was based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name by Pearl S. Buck. Rainer won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1937 for playing O-Lan.
Olana was a character played by actress Marie Walcamp in the short film Olana of the South Seas (1914).
Ollante was a character played by actress Dorothy Dalton in the film The Jungle Child (1916).
Olympe Olympe Bradna was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1940s. She was born in France in 1920. Her birth name was Antoinette Olympe Bradna. Olympe was also a character name in multiple films, including New Lives for Old (1925) and Camille (1936).
Oma Tuthill was a character played by actress Mayre Hall in the film The Battle of Ballots (1915).
Ona Munson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in Oregon in 1903. Her birth name was Owena Elizabeth Wolcott. Ona was also a character played by actress Gail Kane in the film The Jungle (1914).
Opitsah was a character played by actress Bessie Eyton in the short film Opitsah: Apache for Sweetheart (1912). Despite the title, the word opitsah isn’t Apache — it’s Chinook Jargon for “knife,” but it can also denote a “lover” or “sweetheart.”
Ora Carew was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Utah in 1893. Ora was also a character name in multiple films, including Sparrow of the Circus (short, 1914) and Her Supreme Sacrifice (short, 1915).
Ottima was a character played by actress Marion Leonard in the short film Pippa Passes; or, The Song of Conscience (1909).
Ottola Nesmith was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1960s. She was born in Washington, D.C., in 1889. She was named after her father, Capt. Otto Nesmith.
Ouida Bergère was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in 1886. Her birth name was Eunie Branch. The name Ouida was invented by English author Ouida (b. 1839), whose birth name was Marie Louise Ramé.
Rafaela Ottiano was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in Italy in 1888. Rafaela was also a character played by actress Alice Joyce in the short film The Bag of Gold (1912).
Reno Browne was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1950s. She was born in (Reno) Nevada in 1921. Her birth name Josephine Ruth Clarke. Reno was also a character played by actress Ethel Merman in the film Anything Goes (1936).
Rosina Galli was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Italy in 1906. Rosina was also a character played by actress Jose Collins in the film The Last Stake (short, 1923).
Rosita Marstini was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in France in 1887. Rosita was also a character name in multiple films, including Hell’s Valley (1931) and Zoo in Budapest (1933).
In 1910, the Boston-based publisher H. M. Caldwell Co. ran the following ad for its “My Own Name” series of books in American Motherhood magazine.
It is the purpose of these charming little books to tell girls all about their names, information about the name, its origin, the name in history, the name in poetry, fiction and romance is given, also notable namesakes past and present.
It wasn’t much of a series, though, as there were only 25 names to choose from:
Alice (ranked 10th nationally in 1910)
Clearly three more names could have fit on that last line (next to Winifred), so let’s turn this into a game. Which three girl names would you add to this list? That is, give us three names you like that would also be logical additions to this list, given the time period. For instance, I think I’d add Iola, Della, and Bonnie. How about you?
(If you want to access the national rankings for 1910, click over to the SSA’s site and scroll down to “Popular Names by Birth Year.”)
The two-season TV show Topper, which aired on CBS from October of 1953 to mid-1955. Though it isn’t well remembered today, Topper was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Situation Comedy in 1954 (it lost to I Love Lucy) and ranked the 24th in the Nielsen ratings during the 1954-55 season.
But the tale of Topper actually began three decades earlier, in the form of a book. The comic fantasy Topper (1926) was written by Thorne Smith, who the New York Times called “one of America’s most significant humor writers.”
The title character, Cosmo Topper, is a “law-abiding, mild-mannered bank manager [who] decides to buy a secondhand car, only to find it haunted by the ghosts of its previous owners–the reckless, feckless, frivolous couple who met their untimely demise when the car careened into an oak tree.” The mischievous ghosts, named George and Marion, proceed to take Topper on series of adventures.
Smith followed the first book with a sequel, Topper Takes a Trip (1932).
His two books were eventually turned into three films: Topper (1937), Topper Takes a Trip (1938), and Topper Returns (1941). The first movie starred Cary Grant (as a ghost, not as Topper) and it later became the very first black-and-white motion picture to be digitally colorized (by Hal Roach Studios, in 1985).
There was also short-lived radio sitcom called The Adventures of Topper that aired in 1945, from June to September. In the radio show, Topper’s wife is named Malvena — I’ll bet this is what accounts for Malvena jumping back onto the charts one final time in 1946.
What are your thoughts on the baby name Topper? (Do you like it more or less than Tinker?)
P.S. Hopalong Cassidy (played by actor William Boyd from the 1930s to the 1950s) rode a horse called Topper, likely named after the book character.