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 First Appearance of Falana

lola falana, baby name, 1970s, television
Lola Falana dancing on The New Bill Cosby Show (1972)

The name Falana debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1970:

  • 1973: 8 baby girls named Falana
  • 1972: 5 baby girls named Falana
  • 1971: 6 baby girls named Falana
  • 1970: 7 baby girls named Falana [debut]
  • 1969: unlisted

What was the influence?

Entertainer Loletha “Lola” Falana, who could dance, sing, and act.

Around the time of the debut, she could be seen on various television shows, including The Hollywood Palace, The F.B.I., Mod Squad, and The Mike Douglas Show. She’d also just made her U.S. film debut in The Liberation of L.B. Jones (1970), for which was nominated for a Golden Globe for “New Star Of The Year.”

The name Falana saw its highest usage in 1976. At that time, Lola Falana was regularly appearing on popular TV programs and occasionally starring in her own TV specials, like The Lola Falana Show (1976). She was also seeing success in music: her disco single “There’s A Man Out There Somewhere” peaked at #91 on Billboard’s R&B chart (then called the “Hot Soul Singles” chart) in mid-1975.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Falana?

Sources: Lola Falana – Wikipedia, Lola Falana – Golden Globes, Lola Falana – Billboard

Leon Edward Seattle No. 3 Yukon Woodpile

Mollie Walsh

Mary “Mollie” Walsh was a young Irishwoman who operated a grub tent in the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush. She was “known among the stampeders for her beauty and cheerfulness.”

One of Mollie’s suitors* was Mike Bartlett, who ran a pack train business out of Dawson City with his brothers. She moved to Dawson and married Mike in 1898.

In August of 1900, the couple welcomed a baby boy while traveling on a steamboat. His name? Leon Edward Seattle No. 3 Yukon Woodpile Bartlett. “Leon” was Mollie’s choice, “Edward” was in honor of an uncle, and the rest of it was thrown in by Mike (and others):

Seattle No. 3 was the name of the boat on which he was born, and the crew insisted on it being a part of the name. Yukon was inserted out of deference to the icy river, and Woodpile because of the fact that on the day he was born the boat was taking on a pile of wood from a big woodpile, 73 miles above Rampart.

Poor Leon wouldn’t have his parents around for long, though. In 1901, Mollie left Mike for a packer named John Lynch. In October of 1902, after an attempted reconciliation, Mike shot and killed Mollie. In late 1903, Mike went on trial for murder, and was acquitted by reason of insanity. (The newspaper coverage of the trial noted that little Leon had “only recently succeeded in memorizing his own name.”) Finally, in 1905, Mike killed himself via hanging.

At the time of the 1910 Census, orphaned Leon was living with his uncle Edward Bartlett in Seattle. By the time Leon got married in 1931, he was living in Washington state and his occupation was “soldier.” Notably, none of the later records I found for Leon included the middle names “Seattle No. 3,” “Yukon,” or “Woodpile.”

Sources:

*Decades later, in 1930, one of Mollie’s other gold rush suitors, Jack Newman, commissioned the bronze bust of Mollie above. It’s still on display in Skagway, Alaska.

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.