How popular is the baby name Mike 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 Mike.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Mike


Posts that Mention the Name Mike

The Emergence of Mychal

mychal, sports, baby name, 1970s

The name Mychal first appeared in the SSA’s baby name data in 1978, when it was suddenly given to nearly five dozen baby boys:

  • 1981: 29 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1980: 26 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1979: 35 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1978: 59 baby boys named Mychal
  • 1977: unlisted
  • 1976: unlisted

That number was impressive enough to make Mychal not just the top debut name of 1978, but also the 26th-highest boy-name debut of all time.

What was the influence?

Bahamian basketball player Mychal Thompson. He was the #1 pick in the 1978 NBA draft (chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers) and also happened to be the first foreign-born player to be a #1 pick.

Later in his career, he played for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning two championships with them in the late ’80s. As a result, the baby name Mychal shot into the top 1,000 in 1987 and saw peak usage in 1988.

So how did he get the name “Mychal”? He gave it to himself, actually. In an interview with Lakers Nation, he told the story of why he changed the spelling from the original “Michael”:

When I did start playing basketball in high school, all of a sudden people started talking about Michael Thompson in all the [newspaper] write-ups. […] So every time they’d write my name they’d go, Mike Thompson. And my name is Michael.

Now I understand Mike is short for Michael, but I wanted to be known as Michael, so I said, ‘How can I get them to stop calling me Mike?’ I’ll tell you what, I’ll change the spelling of my name so that way, and I figured I wanted to make it kind of a unique name, so people know it’s me, cause there are a million Michaels out there, it’s one of the most popular names there is.

So I figured, ok, just [so that] everybody knows that it’s me when I write Michael Thompson, I started writing M-y-c-h-a-e-l, nah, M-y-k-a-e-l, nah I don’t like that one, M-y-c-h-a-l, oh that looks cool, I’ll just go with that. So I started signing my name that way and to make it legal, I actually had to go back home [to the Bahamas] and change my name legally to Mychal.

All three of Mychal’s uniquely named sons — Mychel (different spelling; “I didn’t want him to be a junior”), Klay, and Trayce — now play professional sports. In fact, much of the recent usage of “Klay” is in California, where Klay Thompson has been playing for the Golden State Warriors since 2011.

Mychal admitted that his eldest son doesn’t like that his name is often mispronounced Michelle, but also noted that, while Mychel is “always complaining about it, […] he’s never changed it back to the original spelling.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Mychal? Do you like the spelling?

Sources: Mychal Thompson – Wikipedia, Lakers Nation Special Feature, Part 1: Getting to Know Mychal Thompson [vid]

The Start of Sondi

sondi, baby name, thai, television, beauty queen
Sondi on “Adventures In Paradise” in 1960

The Sandy-like name Sondi debuted in the U.S. data in 1959 and saw the most usage during the early 1960s:

  • 1962: 7 baby girls named Sondi
  • 1961: 26 baby girls named Sondi
  • 1960: 10 baby girls named Sondi
  • 1959: 5 baby girls named Sondi [debut]
  • 1958: unlisted

Where did it come from?

A beauty queen from Thailand who trying her hand at acting in America.

There was no Miss Thailand contest held in 1959, so Sodsai Vanijvadhana was hand-picked to represent her country at the 1959 Miss Universe contest in Long Beach, California. She competed as “Sondi Sodsai,” and though she didn’t place, she was voted Miss Friendship (aka Miss Congeniality) by her fellow contestants.

The same year, she started making appearances (still as Sondi Sodsai) on U.S. TV shows like Mike Hammer, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, and Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life. She also released an album of exotica music on Liberty Records called Sondi.

Her most notable TV role was on the series Adventures in Paradise (1959-1962) as the recurring character “Sondi,” who appeared primarily in 1960.

She eventually returned to Thailand and became a renowned drama teacher (as Sodsai Pantoomkomol, which is her married name). The drama school at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok is now named the Sodsai Pantoomkomol Centre for Dramatic Arts. In 2011, Sodsai was named a National Artist of Thailand.

So which Thai beauty queen baby name do you like better: Sondi or Apasra?

Sources: Sodsai Pantoomkomol – Wikipedia, Miss Thailand 1959 Sodsai Vanijvadhana: Bangkok

The Beginning of Buff

mike wallace, buff cobb, 1950s, television

Here’s a curious one: Buff. It appeared in the SSA data in the middle of the 20th century as both a boy name and a girl name — but slightly more often as a girl name. The female usage was entirely in the 1950s:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 5 baby girls named Buff
  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: 6 baby girls named Buff
  • 1955: 15 baby girls named Buff
  • 1954: 10 baby girls named Buff
  • 1953: 6 baby girls named Buff
  • 1952: 5 baby girls named Buff [debut]
  • 1951: unlisted

What was the influence here?

An actress with an intriguingly gender-neutral name: Buff Cobb.

She was born Patrizia Chapman in Italy in 1927 to American parents. When she decided in her teens to become a film star, she created the stage name “Buff Cobb” from her mother’s nickname, Buffy, and her maternal grandfather’s surname, Cobb. (He was writer/humorist Irvin Cobb.)

While Buff’s film career didn’t pan out, she did tour with a company putting on Noël Coward’s play Private Lives in the late ’40s. During a stop in Chicago, she was interviewed for a radio show by a young reporter named Mike Wallace — most famous today for his work as a 60 Minutes correspondent from 1968 to 2006.

She and Mike got married in 1949 and began co-hosting a Chicago radio show, which led to two New York City TV shows (both live):

  • Mike and Buff (1951-1953), originally entitled Two Sleepy People, one of television’s first talk shows. “[T]he couple would engage in heated debate over a different topic each day, then try to settle their differences after interviewing experts.” One of Mike’s catchphrases on the show was: “Smarten up, Buff!” The show was sponsored by Pepsi and guests included Harry Belafonte and Mickey Spillane.
  • All Around the Town (1951-1952), an interview show typically broadcast from different parts of New York City.
mike and buff

A year after Mike and Buff was cancelled, the real Mike and Buff were also cancelled — they divorced in 1954. Buff appeared regularly on just one more TV show after that: the ’50s game show Masquerade Party, from 1953 to 1955. Usage of the (female) name Buff was highest during these years.

Do you like the name Buff for a baby girl? Do you like it more or less than Buffy and Buffie (both of which also debuted during the first half of the ’50s)?

Sources:

Image: Clipped from page 12 of the December 1952 Radio-TV Mirror.

Name Quotes 79: Consuela, Gisele, Jeff

Phoebe Buffay becomes Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock in this month's collection of name-related quotes at Nancy's Baby Names.

From the 2004 Friends episode in which Phoebe changes her name to Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock:

Mike: So what’s new?

Phoebe: Well, I’m no longer Phoebe Buffay.

Mike: That’s great, you changed your name?

Phoebe: Yes I did! Meet Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock.

Lyrics from the song “Dear Winter” (2019) by indie band AJR:

Dear Winter,
I hope you like your name.
I hope they don’t make fun of you
When you grow up and go to school, ok?
‘Cause Winter is a badass name.

(The baby name Winter is already on the rise, but do you think this song could give it an extra boost?)

From an article that asks how it feels when one’s name becomes a meme:

Over the last few years, it has become increasingly popular to end online jokes with a name. The set-up usually goes like this: a person jokes about an annoying behaviour as though they were directly talking to the person annoying them, then they end the joke-angry outburst with a name. That name then slowly becomes cultural shorthand for a type of behaviour. Other names become internet jokes because they were part of movies that were clipped into gifs – such as “Sure, Jan” to denote disbelief, “My name is Jeff” for anyone whose name is, yes, Jeff, or “Bye, Felicia” for anyone irritating.

(Other names used in memes: Karen, Sharon, Janet, Chad, Becky…)

From an article about advocate Shanti Bhushnan, who was named after advocate Shanti Bhushnan (b. 1925):

I was born on March 16, 1977. By then, Senior Advocate Shanti Bhushan was a very big name in India because he had appeared for Raj Narain against then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and won the case.

So my uncle KN Puttegowda, who was an advocate and later served as President of the Bangalore Advocates Association, suggested that I should be named after the legendary lawyer.

[…]

I had not met him until now. I consider it my good luck to be named after such a big man. Many people ask me about this name because it is an unusual name in the South.

From a video about the unhurried baby naming practices of the Borana people of Ethiopia and Kenya:

When a child is a toddler, if you have the means, you call on people to gather and name the child. If you don’t have enough, you can ask your relatives to help you prepare the ceremony. That’s how we name a child. Until you name them, you just call them by random names of your choice.

From an article about Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen:

…Gisele has become a brand in itself. That monicker is fortunate – it’s easy to equate “Gisele” with “gazelle”, which is exactly what comes to mind when you see her strutting down the catwalk…

How rapper Post Malone (born Austin Richard Post) came up with his stage name:

I was like 14, and I had started getting into producing and rapping and singing over my own stuff. And I needed a name, you know, for my s—- mixtape,” he told Jimmy Fallon. “So I ran [my real name] through a random rap name generator… now I’m stuck with it.”

How rapper Childish Gambino (born Donald Glover) came up with his stage name:

“We were all hanging out, chilling and drinking and then we were like, ‘Oh, Wu-Tang name generator, let’s put our name in,'” he revealed on The Tonight Show back in 2011. “And we’re putting them all in, and they’re all funny and stuff, and then mine came up and I was like, ‘you guys, it’s not funny anymore. This is something big.’ I just really liked it.”

How spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle (born Ulrich Tölle) came up with his new name:

Some time after this “inner transformation”, Tolle changed his first name from Ulrich to Eckhart following a dream in which he saw books lying around. On the cover of one was the name Eckhart and he knew he had written it. By coincidence, he bumped into an acquaintance, a psychic, a few days later who, for no apparent reason, called him Eckhart! Having become a completely different person he was ready to relinquish the name Ulrich and the unhappy energy the name held for him.

(Other sources say Tolle chose “Eckhart” in deference to 13th-century German theologian/mystic Meister Eckhart.)

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.

Baby Names from “The Edge of Night”

edge of night, soap opera, teal ames, 1950s, 1960s
Sara, Laurie Ann, and Mike Karr
(characters on The Edge of Night)

The Edge of Night (1956-1984) was a television soap opera with heavy crime drama elements (e.g., courtroom scenes). It was based directly on the radio drama Perry Mason (1943-1955). In fact, the central character of EoN — a police officer/lawyer named Mike Karr — was played by actor John Larkin, who had been the voice of Perry during the last eight years of the radio show.

EoN was a popular soap, ranking anywhere from 2nd to 6th from its inception until the early 1970s. More importantly, though, several EoN characters/actors ended up influencing the U.S. baby name charts.

First we have Teal, which debuted in the data in 1957:

  • 1962: 24 baby girls named Teal
  • 1961: 35 baby girls named Teal
  • 1960: 28 baby girls named Teal
  • 1959: 21 baby girls named Teal
  • 1958: 28 baby girls named Teal
  • 1957: 14 baby girls named Teal [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

Teal was inspired by actress Teal Ames, who played Mike’s girlfriend/wife Sara Karr on the show from 1956 to 1961. When Teal decided to quit show business, the character was killed off Edge of Night in a car crash. “CBS received so many anxious and hysterical calls after this episode that actress Teal Ames had to go on the air the following day to assure her fans that she was still very much alive.”

(That said, another potential influence on the name was Japanese-American jazz singer Teal Joy — real name Elsie Itashiki — who put out an album and started appearing on TV in late 1957.)

Next is Laurieann, which debuted in 1959. (And, a year later, the similar name Laurieanne popped up.)

  • 1964: 25 baby girls named Laurieann
  • 1963: 39 baby girls named Laurieann
  • 1962: 35 baby girls named Laurieann
  • 1961: 23 baby girls named Laurieann
  • 1960: 21 baby girls named Laurieann
  • 1959: 5 baby girls named Laurieann [debut]
  • 1958: unlisted

No doubt Laurieann and Laurieanne were given a nudge by Laurie, which was at peak popularity in the early ’60s (perhaps thanks to Piper Laurie). But the more direct influence was fictional Laurie Ann Karr, Mike and Sara’s only daughter, who was born in the storyline in September of 1959.

Ratings for EoN weren’t as good from the mid-1970s onward, but by then the show was becoming known for something entirely different: unusual character names. These included Taffy, Lobo, Morlock, Cookie, Gunther, Didi, Smiley, Raven, and Schuyler. (Raven and Sky were a couple, of course.) And several of these unusual names got a boost in real life, thanks to the show.

For instance, character Draper Scott was featured in the storyline from 1975 to 1981. The baby name Draper re-emerged in the SSA data in 1976 and saw peak usage in 1980:

  • 1981: 40 baby boys named Draper
  • 1980: 46 baby boys named Draper
  • 1979: 39 baby boys named Draper
  • 1978: 36 baby boys named Draper
  • 1977: 35 baby boys named Draper
  • 1976: 15 baby boys named Draper
  • 1975: unlisted

And female character Winter Austin, who was on the show from 1978 to 1979, pushed the baby name Winter into the top 1,000 for the first time in the late ’70s:

  • 1980: 140 baby girls named Winter
  • 1979: 241 baby girls named Winter [rank: 705th]
  • 1978: 137 baby girls named Winter [rank: 1,000th]
  • 1977: 29 baby girls named Winter

Were you a regular viewer of The Edge of Night? Did you have any opinions on the character names?

Sources:

Image: from TV Radio Mirror, July 1961

P.S. Here’s a post with a bunch more soap opera-inspired baby names.