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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Mary

Number of Babies Named Mary

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Mary

The One-Hit Wonder Teenamarie

teena marie, album, starchildSpeaking of Tinamarie…the very similar name Teenamarie first appeared in the U.S. baby name data exactly three decades later, in 1985:

  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: 7 baby girls named Tennamarie [debut]
  • 1984: unlisted

That was the year the song “Lovergirl” [vid] by R&B singer Teena Marie (born Mary Christine Brockert) peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #9 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart.

While the name Teenamarie was a one-hit wonder on the baby name charts, Teena Marie herself was not a one-hit wonder on the music charts; she released dozens of successful singles over the course of her career.

The name Teena also saw a spike in usage in 1985.

(Teena saw its highest usage in the mid-1950s, perhaps thanks to both the comic strip Teena and the fashion label Teena Paige. In both of those cases, the name Teena was based on the relatively new term “teenager.” The usage was also no doubt influenced by the rise of Tina.)

Which spelling do you like better, Tinamarie or Teenamarie?

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: Letter N

nayda, nameNeed a rare, retro N-name?

Here’s the next installment of uncommon female names associated with very old films (released from the 1910s to the 1940s).

I’ve included links to popularity graphs for names that have seen enough usage to appear in the SSA data.

*

Nabby
Nabby Goode was a character played by actress Virginia Weidler in the film Maid of Salem (1937).

Nadina
Nadina was a character name in multiple films, including A Polar Romance (1915) and Runaway Queen (1934).

  • Usage of the baby name Nadina.

Nadira
Princess Nadira was a character played by actress Malvina Longfellow in the film The Indian Love Lyrics (1923).

  • Usage of the baby name Nadira.

Nadje
Nadje was a character played by actress Patricia Palmer in the film The Leopard’s Bride (1916).

Nadji
Nadji was a character name in multiple films, including Chandu the Magician (1932) and The Return of Chandu (1934).

Naela
Sun Priestess Naela was a character played by actress Lil Dagover in the film The Spiders (1919).

  • Usage of the baby name Naela.

Nahaku
Nahaku was a character played by actress Helen Lindroth in the short film The Dance of Death (1914).

Naida
Naida Lessing was an actress who appeared in 1 film in 1918. Naida was also a character name in multiple films, including The Jungle Lovers (short, 1915) and A Cafe in Cairo (1924).

  • Usage of the baby name Naida.

Naidra
Naidra was a character played by actress Mignon Anderson in the short film Naidra, the Dream Woman (1914).

Naio
Naio was a character played by actress Adda Gleason in the short film The Red Blood of Courage (1915).

Nairaini
Nairaini was a character played by actress Claire Du Brey in the film The Bronze Bell (1921).

Naja
Naja was a character played by actress Maria Montez in the film Cobra Woman (1944).

  • Usage of the baby name Naja.

Nakula
Nakula was a character played by actress Vivian Reed in the film The Lad and the Lion (1917).

Nalia
Nalia McCabe was a character played by actress Corinne Barker in the film Enchantment (1921).

  • Usage of the baby name Nalia.

Nalu
Nalu was a character played by actress Ramsay Ames in the film Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944).

Nan
Nan Christy was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in 1894. Nan was also a character name in multiple films, including Nan’s Victory (short, 1914) and Nan of the North (1922).

  • Usage of the baby name Nan.

Nance
Nance was a character name in multiple films, including The Clutch of Circumstance (short, 1915) and Nance (1920).

  • Usage of the baby name Nance.

Nanci
Nanci Price was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1930s. She was born in Colorado in 1918.

  • Usage of the baby name Nanci.

Naneta
Naneta was a character played by actress Clara Williams in the film The Criminal (1916).

Nanette
Nanette was a character name in multiple films, including Nanette of the Wilds (1916) and The Cowboy and the Countess (1926).

Nanine
Nanine was a character played by actress Beryl Morhange in the film Camille (1915) and by Jessie Ralph in Camille (1936).

  • Usage of the baby name Nanine.

Nannie
Nannie Maitland was a character played by actress Evelyn Brent in the film The Iron Woman (1916).

  • Usage of the baby name Nannie.

Nanon
Nanon was a character name in multiple films, including The Conquering Power (1921) and Lady of the Pavements (1929).

Nara
Nara Alexieff was a character played by actress Clara Kimball Young in the film The Hands of Nara (1922).

  • Usage of the baby name Nara.

Narcissa
Narcissa was a character name in multiple films, including The Oregon Trail (1923) and For Alimony Only (1926).

Nargis
Nargis was a character played by actress Marguerite Comont in the film Kismet (1920).

  • Usage of the baby name Nargis.

Narita
Narita was a character played by actress Myrna Loy in the film Cock o’ the Walk (1930).

  • Usage of the baby name Narita.

Narjis
Narjis was a character played by actress Blanche Friderici in the film Kismet (1930).

  • Usage of the baby name Narjis.

Nasa
Nasa Springer was a character played by actress Clara Bow in the film Call Her Savage (1932).

Nasoni
Nasoni was a character played by actress Doraldina in the film The Woman Untamed (1920).

Natacha
Natacha was a character played by actress Edna Sedgewick in the film Red Barry (1938).

Natcha
Natcha Manyus was a character played by actress Claudia Dell in the film The Lost City (1935).

Natchi
Natchi was a character played by actress Carmen Phillips in the film The Great Circus Mystery (1925).

Natoosa
Natoosa was a character played by actress Mary Charleson in the short film Natoosa (1912).

Natrova
Natrova was a character played by actress Milada Mladova in the film Escape Me Never (1947).

Naturich
Naturich was a character played by actress Red Wing (Lillian St. Cyr) in the film The Squaw Man (1914), by Ann Little in The Squaw Man (1918), and by Lupe Velez in The Squaw Man (1931).

Nauma
Nauma was a character played by actress Princess Uwane Yea in the film The Heart of Wetona (1919).

Navarre
Navarre King was a character played by actress Sally Eilers in the film Broadway Babies (1929).

Nayda
Nayda was a character played by actress Rita Hayworth in the film Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935).

  • Usage of the baby name Nayda.

Nazama
Nazama was a character played by actress Binnie Barnes in the film The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938).

Nazimova
Alla Nazimova, often credited simply as Nazimova, was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in Russia (now Ukraine) in 1879. Her birth name was Miriam Edez Adelaida Leventon. Alla was also a character played by actress Sally Crute in the film The Cossack Whip (1916).

Nea
Nea was a character played by actress Dona Drake in the film Aloma of the South Seas (1941).

  • Usage of the baby name Nea.

Nechia
Nechia was a character played by actress Dolly Larkin in the short film A Daughter of the Redskins (1912).

Necia
Necia was a character played by actress Marceline Day in the film The Barrier (1926) and by Jean Parker in The Barrier (1937).

  • Usage of the baby name Necia.

Nedda
Nedda was a character name in multiple films, including The Soul of Luigi (short, 1914) and A Clown Must Laugh (1936).

  • Usage of the baby name Nedda.

Nedra
Nedra was a character name in multiple films, including Strength of Family Ties (short, 1914) and The Empress (1917).

  • Usage of the baby name Nedra.

Neeka
Neeka Le Mort was a character played by actress Nell Shipman in the film The Girl from God’s Country (1921).

  • Usage of the baby name Neeka.

Neely
Neely was a character played by actress Duane Thompson in the film One Hour of Love (1927).

  • Usage of the baby name Neely.

Neenah
Neenah was a character played by actress Kathleen Key in the film The Man from Brodney’s (1923).

  • Usage of the baby name Neenah.

Neepah
Neepah was a character played by actress Eugenie Besserer in the short film The Last of Her Tribe (1912).

Neeta
Neeta was a character name in multiple films, including Temptation and the Girl (short, 1917) and The Third Alarm (1930).

  • Usage of the baby name Neeta.

Neewah
Neewah was a character played by actress Neola May in the serial film Perils of the Yukon (1922).

Neila
Neila was a character name in multiple films, including A Soul for Sale (1918) and East of Borneo (1931).

  • Usage of the baby name Neila.

Neleta
Neleta was a character played by actress Steffi Duna in the film Anthony Adverse (1936).

Nelga
Nelga Petrona was a character played by actress Julia Swayne Gordon in the short film The Tigress (1915).

Nell
Nell Craig was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in New Jersey in 1891. Nell Shipman was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Canada in 1892. Her birth name was Helen Foster-Barham. Nell was also a character name in multiple films, including The Reward of Thrift (short, 1914) and Nell Gwyn (1926).

  • Usage of the baby name Nell.

Nenette
Nenette Bisson was a character played by actress Carmel Myers in the film A Broadway Scandal (1918).

Nennah
Nennah was a character played by actress Ynez Seabury in the film The Calgary Stampede (1925).

Neola
Neola May was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in California in 1891. Neola was also a character played by actress Betty Schade in the short film Olana of the South Seas (1914).

  • Usage of the baby name Neola.

Nepeese
Nepeese was a character played by actress Nell Shipman in the film Baree, Son of Kazan (1918).

Nepthys
Nepthys was a character played by actress Jane Urban in the film The Last Egyptian (1914).

Neptuna
Neptuna was a character played by actress Bessie Eyton in the short film When His Ship Came In (1914).

Nerada
Nerada was a character played by actress Florence Lawrence in the short film The Slave (1909).

Nerée
Nerée Caron was a character played by actress Alma Rubens in the film A Woman’s Faith (1925).

Nesta
Nesta Pett was a character played by actress Cora Witherspoon in the film Piccadilly Jim (1936).

  • Usage of the baby name Nesta.

Netta
Netta Westcott was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in England in 1893. Netta was also a character played by actress Linda Darnell in the film Hangover Square (1945).

  • Usage of the baby name Netta.

Nettie
Nettie was a character name in multiple films, including Java Head (1923) and On Again-Off Again (1937).

  • Usage of the baby name Nettie.

Neyneen
Neyneen Farrell was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in the Netherlands in 1898.

Neysa
Neysa von Igel was a character played by actress Louise Glaum in the film An Alien Enemy (1918).

  • Usage of the baby name Neysa.

Niagara
Niagara was a character played by actress Louise Beavers in the film Du Barry Was a Lady (1943).

Nichette
Nichette was a character played by actress Patsy Ruth Miller in the film Camille (1921) and by Elizabeth Allan in Camille (1936).

Ninette
Ninette Cavallar was a character played by actress Shirley Mason in the film Don Juan’s 3 Nights (1926).

Nini
Nini Theilade was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s. She was born in Indonesia in 1915. Nini was also a character played by actress Barbara Bedford in the film Gleam O’Dawn (1922).

  • Usage of the baby name Nini.

Ninotchka
Ninotchka was a character played by actress Greta Garbo in the film Ninotchka (1939).

Niobe
Niobe was a character played by actress Hazel Dawn in the film Niobe (1915).

  • Usage of the baby name Niobe.

Nirvena
Nirvena was a character played by actress Stephanie Bachelor in the film Lady of Burlesque (1943).

Nista
Nista was a character played by actress Caroline Frances Cooke in the film The Devil Bear (1929).

Nita
Nita Naldi was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in New York in 1894. Her birth name was Mary Nonna Dooley. Nita was also a character name in multiple films, including Jane Goes A’ Wooing (1919) and Two Gun Sheriff (1941).

  • Usage of the baby name Nita.

Nitra
Nitra was a character played by actress Eve Whitney in the film Radar Patrol vs. Spy King (1949).

  • Usage of the baby name Nitra.

Nitta
Nitta Moseby was a character played by actress Jean Rouverol in the film The Law West of Tombstone (1938).

Nokomis
Nokomis was a character played by actress Lillian Leighton in the film Witchcraft (1916).

  • Usage of the baby name Nokomis (which debuted in the data the year Witchcraft came out).

Nona
Nona was a character name in multiple films, including If Winter Comes (1923) and Law of the Jungle (1942).

  • Usage of the baby name Nona.

Nonette
Nonette was a character played by actress Peggy Parr in the film Sylvia on a Spree (1918).

Nootka
Nootka was a character played by actress Laska Winter in the film Justice of the Far North (1925).

Norene
Norene McMann was a character played by actress Loretta Young in the film Three Girls Lost (1931).

  • Usage of the baby name Norene.

Noretta
Noretta was a character played by actress Pina Menichelli in the film The Banker (1913).

Norina
Norina was a character played by actress Myrna Dell in the film The Lost Tribe (1949).

  • Usage of the baby name Norina.

Normallee
Normallee was a character played by actress Clara Kimball Young in the short film The Spirit of the Orient (1913).

Notanah
Notanah was a character played by actress Kitty Stevens in the film Peer Gynt (1915).

Notawa
Notawa was a character played by actress Lillian Leighton in the film The Girl from God’s Country (1921).

Nourmalle
Nourmalle was a character played by actress Bessie Eyton in the short film The Cherry Pickers (1914).

Nuanta
Nuanta was a character played by actress Betty Schade in the short film The Call for Help (1917).

Nuanua
Nuanua was a character played by actress Florence Turner in the film Passion Fruit (1921).

Nubi
Nubi was a character played by actress Myrna Loy in the film The Squall (1929).

Nume
Nume Rogers was a character played by actress Florence Vidor in the film The Bravest Way (1918).

Nupondi
Nupondi was a character played by actress Mamo Clark in the film One Million B.C. (1940).

Nydia
Nydia Westman was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1970s. She was born in New York in 1902

  • Usage of the baby name Nydia.

Nydra
Nydra was a character played by actress Rita La Roy in the film The Delightful Rogue (1929).

  • Usage of the baby name Nydra.

Nyoka
Nyoka was a character played by actress Frances Gifford in the film Jungle Girl (serial, 1941) and by Kay Aldridge in Perils of Nyoka (1942).

  • Usage of the baby name Nyoka (which debuted in the data the year Jungle Girl came out).

Nyra
Nyra Seaton was a character played by actress Kathleen Vaughan in the film Corinthian Jack (1921).

  • Usage of the baby name Nyra.

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…Which of the above names do you like best?

Source: IMDb

The Rise of Deborah

deborah kerr, 1947, magazine
Deborah Kerr, cover of Time, early 1947

Right on the heels of Cheryl, the baby name Deborah skyrocketed in usage during the late ’40s and early ’50s:

  • 1952: 49,808 baby girls named Deborah [rank: 4th]
  • 1951: 42,060 baby girls named Deborah [rank: 4th]
  • 1950: 29,067 baby girls named Deborah [rank: 7th]
  • 1949: 19,208 baby girls named Deborah [rank: 15th]
  • 1948: 11,245 baby girls named Deborah [rank: 30th]
  • 1947: 5,838 baby girls named Deborah [rank: 62nd]
  • 1946: 2,470 baby girls named Deborah [rank: 119th]
  • 1945: 1,464 baby girls named Deborah [rank: 161st]
  • 1944: 1,293 baby girls named Deborah [rank: 168th]

It peaked at 2nd place (behind Mary) in 1955.

Deborah, based on the ancient Hebrew word for “bee,” had already been on a slow and steady rise. So what fueled the explosion?

I’d say the one-two punch of actresses Deborah Kerr and Debra Paget.

Scottish-born Deborah Kerr, who had been in films since the early 1940s, didn’t became one of the biggest names in Hollywood until later in the decade. (Her surname rhymes with car; MGM cleverly came up with the line, “Kerr rhymes with star.”)

Kerr ended up in some of the most financially successful movies of the era, such as King Solomon’s Mines (1950), Quo Vadis (1951), From Here to Eternity (1953), and The King and I (1956) with Yul Brynner.

Denver-born* Debra Paget, a starlet of the 1950s, also appeared in some big films such as the top-grossing movie of the decade, The Ten Commandments (1956). The same year she appeared opposite Elvis Presley in Love Me Tender (1956).

Though many variants of Deborah were being used around that time, Debra saw particular success, thanks to Paget. In fact, Debra surpassed Deborah in usage for five years in a row:

Year Debra usage Deborah usage
1961 22,153 [rank: 13th] 24,095 [rank: 10th]
1960 26,737 [rank: 8th] 25,265 [rank: 10th]
1959 31,371 [rank: 7th] 19,553 [rank: 9th]
1958 35,520 [rank: 6th] 32,940 [rank: 7th]
1957 42,734 [rank: 4th] 40,062 [rank: 6th]
1956 48,299 [rank: 2nd] 47,830 [rank: 4th]
1955 50,541 [rank: 4th] 52,314 [rank: 2nd]
1954 45,894 [rank: 6th] 54,685 [rank: 3rd]
1953 36,856 [rank: 7th] 52,188 [rank: 3rd]
1952 26,832 [rank: 9th] 49,808 [rank: 4th]
1951 17,074 [rank: 18th] 42,060 [rank: 4th]

(Interesting fact: One of the babies named for Debra Paget was future actress Debra Winger, born in 1955.)

The occupational surname Paget, a diminutive form of the word page (a “youth employed as a personal attendant to a person of rank”), was also appearing in the SSA’s data as a girl around this time. It debuted in 1948, the year Debra Paget appeared in her first film, Cry of the City.

Which spelling do you prefer, the traditional Deborah or the streamlined Debra?

I prefer...

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Sources: Deborah Kerr – Wikipedia, Debra Paget – Wikipedia, Page – Online Etymology Dictionary

*These Rams were installed in Denver three years after Debra was born.

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: O

orchid, gloria swanson, movie, 1926Want a rare girl name with a retro feel?

Here’s a list of uncommon, feminine O-names associated with the earliest decades of cinema.

For those that saw enough usage to register in the national data set, I’ve included links to the popularity graphs.

Enjoy!

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O Yama
O Yama was a character played by actress Florence Lawrence in the short film The Heart of O Yama (1908).

Oceola
Oceola was a character played by actress Dolly Larkin in the film Her Atonement (1913).

  • Usage of the baby name Oceola (which debuted in the data in 1913).

Odile
Odile was a character name in the films The Rat (1925) and The Rat (1937), both of which were based upon the same stage play.

  • Usage of the baby name Odile.

Ohati
Ohati was a character played by actress Anna May Wong in the film A Trip to Chinatown (1926).

Ojira
Princess Ojira was a character played by actress Helen Gardner in the film A Princess of Bagdad (1913).

Okalana
Queen Okalana was a character played by actress Anne Revere in the film Rainbow Island (1944).

Ola
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).

  • Usage of the baby name Ola.

Olago
Olago was a character played by actress Sarah Padden in the film Man of Two Worlds (1934).

Olala
Olala Ussan was a character played by actress Billie Dove in the film The Thrill Chaser (1923).

Olalla
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
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
Olana was a character played by actress Marie Walcamp in the short film Olana of the South Seas (1914).

  • Usage of the baby name Olana.

Oleander
Oleander Tubbs was a character played by actress Helen Chandler in the film Mr. Boggs Steps Out (1938).

Olette
Olette was a character played by actress Peggy Hyland in the film The Sixteenth Wife (1917).

Olivetta
Olivetta was a character name in multiple films, including The Long Arm of the Law (short, 1911) and 13 Washington Square (1928).

Olivette
Olivette was a character played by actress Olive Borden in the film The Monkey Talks (1927).

Ollante
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
Oma Tuthill was a character played by actress Mayre Hall in the film The Battle of Ballots (1915).

  • Usage of the baby name Oma.

Ona
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).

  • Usage of the baby name Ona.

Onda
Onda was a character played by actress Marie Walcamp in the short film Onda of the Orient (1916).

  • Usage of the baby name Onda.

Oneta
Oneta was a character played by actress Anna May Wong in the film The Desert’s Toll (1926).

  • Usage of the baby name Oneta.

Opitsah
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
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).

  • Usage of the baby name Ora.

Orchid
Orchid was a character name in multiple films, including Fine Manners (1926), starring Gloria Swanson, and Gangs of New York (1938).

  • Usage of the baby name Orchid (which debuted in the data in 1926).

Oriole
Oriole Hartley was a character played by actress Nanci Price in the film The Girl in the Show (1929).

  • Usage of the baby name Oriole.

Orlean
Orlean was a character played by actress Evelyn Preer in the film The Homesteader (1919).

  • Usage of the baby name Orlean.

Ormi
Ormi Hawley was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in Massachusetts in 1889. Her birth name was Ormetta Grace Hawley.

  • Usage of the baby name Ormi (which debuted in the data in 1916).

Orry
Orry Baxter was a character played by actress Jane Wyman in the film The Yearling (1946).

  • Usage of the baby name Orry.

Osa
Osa Massen was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Denmark in 1914. Her birth name was Aase Iverson Madsen.

  • Usage of the baby name Osa.

Osprey
Osprey Bacchus was a character played by actress Helen Jerome Eddy in the film A Very Good Young Man (1919).

Ottilie
Ottilie Van Zandt was a character played by actress Ethel Shannon in the film Maytime (1923).

Ottima
Ottima was a character played by actress Marion Leonard in the short film Pippa Passes; or, The Song of Conscience (1909).

Ottola
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
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.

  • Usage of the baby name Ouida.

Oulaid
Oulaid was a character played by actress Mary Alden in the film The Tents of Allah (1923).

Ozma
Ozma was a character name in multiple films, including The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays (1908) and The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914).

*

…Which of the above names do you like best?

Source: IMDb

The Emergence of Marjoe

marjoe gortner, baby names, 1970s
Marjoe Gortner, preaching, 1971

The rare name Marjoe has appeared in the U.S. baby name just twice, both times in the mid-1970s:

  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: 6 baby boys named Marjoe
  • 1974: 6 baby boys named Marjoe [debut]
  • 1973: unlisted

This name is similar to Uldine in that both are associated with something rather unusual: child preachers.

In the case of Marjoe, the influence was child preacher-turned-actor Marjoe Gortner.

He was born Hugh Marjoe Ross Gortner to parents to Vernon and Marge of California in 1944. According to an early source, the middle name “Marjoe” was based on the name of his mother Marge. (His younger siblings were named Vernoe and Starloe.) Later sources claim “Marjoe” was a combination of Mary and Joseph.

Marjoe Gortner was a precocious child, and his family was full of preachers, so his parents (putting two and two together) decided to turn Marjoe into a child preacher. By the age of four, he was an ordained minister and could deliver about 40 different sermons from memory. His entire childhood was spent evangelizing.

By the early 1970s, Marjoe Gortner was in his late 20s and only in it for the money. In the autobiographical documentary Marjoe (1972), he gave viewers a behind-the-scenes look at “the lucrative business of Pentecostal preaching.” It earned critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in early 1973, but wasn’t screened in many theaters.

Following the success of the documentary, Marjoe pursued an acting career. He was most visible in the mid-1970s, appearing mainly on television. He could be seen on episodes of various TV shows (like Nakia, in 1974) and in several made-for-TV movies (like The Gun and the Pulpit, also in 1974).

What are your thoughts on the name Marjoe?

Sources: