How popular is the baby name Marsheela in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Marsheela and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Marsheela.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Marsheela

Number of Babies Named Marsheela

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Marsheela

“Broken Arrow” Baby Names

Broken Arrow movie poster

Elliott Arnold’s 1947 novel Blood Brother was a fictionalized account of the adventures of Old West historical figures Cochise, a Chiricahua Apache chief, and Tom Jeffords, a U.S. Indian agent.

The book was later adapted into a movie and a TV series, and both of these things ended up influencing U.S. baby names.

Sonseeahray & Debralee

The movie Broken Arrow was released in the summer of 1950. It starred Jeff Chandler as Cochise and James Stewart as Tom Jeffords. But the two baby names that debuted in the data thanks to the movie were associated with a different character: Sonseeahray, played by teenage actress Debra Paget.

Broken Arrow wasn’t Debra Paget’s first movie, but it was her first big hit, and it helped her achieve a new level of fame. And in 1951, her birth name Debralee debuted in the data. In fact, it was that year’s top debut name.

  • 1955: 7 baby girls named Debralee
  • 1954: 6 baby girls named Debralee
  • 1953: 11 baby girls named Debralee
  • 1952: 9 baby girls named Debralee
  • 1951: 19 baby girls named Debralee [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted

The public had become aware that Debra Paget was born “Debralee Griffin” in mid-1950, thanks to a newspaper article by AP journalist Hubbard Keavy, who called Debra’s birth name “improbable” (a curious comment, coming from guy named Hubbard Keavy). He quoted Debra’s mother, Margaret Griffin, as saying:

I christened her Debra. Her father’s people were Pagets. I used to call her Debra Lee, thinking that would be a good professional name. But Paget is more unusual and there are no Pagets in the movies.

Debra’s sister, Marcia Eloise Griffin, also acted under a stage name: Teala Loring.

The name of the character Sonseeahray also debuted in 1951:

  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: 7 baby girls named Sonseeahray [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted

Sonseeahray, defined in the novel as “morning star,” seems to be legitimate Apache name; it was included and defined in the book Life Among the Apaches (1868) by John C. Cremony.

Two real-life Sonseeahrays are Fox News reporter Sonseeahray Tonsall and German actress Sonsee Neu, born Sonsee Ahray Natascha Floethmann-Neu.

Marsheela & Ansara

The TV series Broken Arrow first aired on ABC from 1956 to 1958. (Reruns aired in 1959 and 1960.) The show starred Michael Ansara as Cochise and John Lupton as Tom Jeffords. While it did not include the character Sonseeahray, an early episode did feature a Sonseeahray-like character named Marsheela.

Marsheela, played by actress Donna Martell, appeared in the episode “Apache Girl” in mid-1957. The same year, the name Marsheela was a one-hit wonder in the baby name data:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: 11 baby girls named Marsheela [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

I figured out the source of this one only after posting about Marsheila, which was the most-used spelling of Marsheela that year (no doubt because of the familiarity of the Irish name Sheila, which was a top-100 girl name in the U.S. throughout the ’50s and ’60s).

Another one-hit wonder was the surname of Arab-American actor Michael Ansara. Five baby boys were named Ansara in 1960:

  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 5 baby boys named Ansara [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted

Though Broken Arrow had made Michael Ansara a household name, this debut lines up more cleanly with a later TV Western that Ansara also starred in: Law of the Plainsman, which lasted from 1959 to 1960.

His surname may be based on the Arabic term al-ansar, meaning “the helpers.”

Sources:

How Do You Like Your Name, Marsheela?

Here’s a crazy coincidence: While I was putting yesterday’s post on Marsheila together, I got an email from a 52-year-old Californian named Marsheela.

Here’s what she said about her name:

My mother gave me the name Marsheela after her grandmother who was Chinook Indian. She told me the name means morning glory. I was the only Marsheela around, all thru school and adulthood, I would get mixed comments from, what a beautiful name to your mother must not have liked you. Luckily my husband loved the name! I will say it was difficult thru school not having a common name.

Thank you, Marsheela!

(Marsheela would have been born in the early ’60s — several years after the 1957 Broken Arrow episode that presented the name as Native American. Was the TV show an influence here? Hard to say, though it does seem possible. Marsheela didn’t mention what her great-grandmother’s birth name was specifically.)

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]

Mystery Monday: The Baby Name Marsheila (Solved!)

Here’s a triple-name mystery from 1957.

The most popular of the three names was Marsheila:

  • 1961: 5 baby girls named Marsheila
  • 1960: 22 baby girls named Marsheila
  • 1959: 6 baby girls named Marsheila
  • 1958: 10 baby girls named Marsheila
  • 1957: 32 baby girls named Marsheila [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

While it wasn’t the top girl-name debut of the year — that was Tierney — it did come in second.

Lower down on the debut list we see Marshelia:

  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 6 baby girls named Marshelia
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 6 baby girls named Marshelia
  • 1957: 18 baby girls named Marshelia [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

And below that is one-hit wonder Marsheela:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: 11 baby girls named Marsheela [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

All told, over 60 baby girls got one of these three names in 1957.

Multiple spellings often point to an audio source (e.g., radio, TV) as opposed to a visual source (e.g., book, magazine). Beyond that, though, I don’t have any good theories about where these names came from.

Anyone know?

marsheela, broken arrow, 1957
Marsheela
UPDATE, 8/10/15: Frank made quick work of this one! See the first comment below.

Turns out Marsheela was a character from the “Apache Girl” episode of the TV show Broken Arrow. The episode aired in mid-1957, and the character was played by actress Donna Martell.

In the episode, Apache chief Cochise tries to arrange a marriage for his niece Marsheela. In the end, though, he lets her pick a husband for herself.