Louis Lee was born in 1921 to Chinese parents living in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was one of 13 children* and became multi-lingual while working at the family grocery store in Chinatown. His language skills came in handy later on, when he got a job as a Pan Am customer service representative.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Louis and his wife Lucille had a total of eight children, six boys and two girls. I don’t know the birth order, so I’ll list their names alphabetically:
Here are the name explanations I’ve found so far: Maycevene was born on May 7th (1946), Rytwin’s name was based on the phrase “right will win,” Taoward’s name was based on the phrase “going toward a goal,” and Worldster was born in late 1943 when the book One World by Wendell Willkie was popular.
*Louis’s siblings were named Anna, Daisy, Edith, Elizabeth, Elsie, Grace, James, Joseph, Lillian, Pansy, Violet, and William.
And that’s not the only name change writer Margaret Mitchell made before her book was published.
She also changed the name of Scarlett’s stately home, originally called Fontenoy Hall, to Tara — after Ireland’s Hill of Tara.
What happened to the baby name Tara after the movie version of Gone with the Wind came out in 1939? It immediately debuted on the baby name charts:
1939: 7 baby girls named Tara [debut]
1940: 13 baby girls named Tara
1941: 14 baby girls named Tara
1942: 21 baby girls named Tara
1943: 24 baby girls named Tara
Usage continued to rise through the ’40s and ’50s. And, thanks to television, it was given two big boosts in the late ’60s and early ’70s — one from The Avengers character Tara King (on the show from 1968 to 1969), the other from soap operaAll My Children character Tara Martin (introduced in 1970).
1967: 1,290 baby girls named Tara (rank: 229th)
1968: 2,184 baby girls named Tara (rank: 147th)
1969: 3,519 baby girls named Tara (rank: 107th)
1970: 5,334 baby girls named Tara (rank: 69th)
1971: 6,327 baby girls named Tara (rank: 50th)
1972: 7,230 baby girls named Tara (rank: 38th)
1973: 6,706 baby girls named Tara (rank: 37th)
Tara landed inside the top 40 six different times during the 1970s, far surpassing the popularity of Scarlett, which couldn’t even make the top 1,000 that decade.
But, as with all fads, after the rise comes the fall. Tara was out of the top 100 by the early ’90s. It ranked 775th in 2010, and could drop out of the top 1,000 entirely within the next few years.
Source: Walker, Marianne. Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind. Atlanta, Georgia: Peachtree Publishers, 2011.
The baby name Scarlett is within spitting distance of the top 100, thanks in large part to actress Scarlett Johansson.
What put it on the map originally, though, was Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind (1936).
Did you know that Katie Scarlett O’Hara was nearly named Pansy? It’s true. Scarlett might never have become a baby name at all had Margaret Mitchell not decided, months after her book was accepted for publication, to change the character’s name from Pansy to Scarlett. She explained:
The name Scarlett was chosen six months after my book was sold….I submitted nearly a hundred names to my publishers and they chose Scarlett,–I may add it was my choice too.
Other names under consideration were Robin, Kells, Storm and Angel.
What made her settle on Scarlett?
As to why I chose the name of Scarlett — first, because I came across the name of Katie Scarlett so often in Irish literature and so I made it Gerald’s Mother’s maiden name. Second, while I of course knew of the Scarlett family on our Georgia Coast, I could find no record of any family named Scarlett in Clayton County between the years 1859 and 1873.
The surname originally denoted a maker or seller of a bright (often red-colored) woollen cloth called scarlet.
How many babies were named Scarlett following the book’s publication?
1937: 7 baby girls named Scarlett [debut]
1938: 6 baby girls named Scarlett
1939: 7 baby girls named Scarlett (6 Scarlet)
Of course, the film version of Gone with the Wind, released at the very end of 1939, is what really gave the name a boost:
1940: 59 named Scarlett (16 Scarlet, 8 Scarlette)
1941: 76 named Scarlett (21 Scarlet, 12 Scarlette)
1942: 76 named Scarlett (25 Scarlet, 12 Scarlette)
1943: 68 named Scarlett (29 Scarlet, 11 Scarlette)
1944: 45 named Scarlett (15 Scarlet, 5 Scarlette)
1945: 34 named Scarlett (16 Scarlet, 6 Scarlette)
The name slowly picked up steam over the following decades and, by the end of the century, several hundred baby girls were being named Scarlett every year.
When Scarlett Johansson came on the scene in the early 2000s, usage of the name and its variants (and the number of variants) increased at a much faster rate:
Do you think any of the other names Mitchell considered — Pansy, Robin, Kells, Storm, Angel — would have made a better character name? Do you think any of them could have caught on as a baby name the way Scarlett did?
In the 1970s, Everett H. Williams–director of the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Jacksonville, Florida–compiled lists of the most unusual baby names he saw on Florida birth certificates. Here’s a sampling:
Bigamy and Larceny [twins]
End of the Line
First Time Benjamin
Full Dress Coat
Gospel Lilly Floweryvine Virgin Mary Lord Caroline
January Snow White
Kekoalauliionapalihauulioliokeloolau David Kaapuawaokamehameha
I checked for some of these names in the SSDI and discovered one more Lasagne, two more Cigars, two more Larcenys, eight more Gospels, and 17 more Stranges. I also spotted a Full Price (1912-1990), an Easy Fortune (1922-2009) and a Flowery Tutor (1890-1965).
“Everett: what a name!” Miami News 13 Sept. 1973: 1.
“Speaking Of Names.” St. Joseph News-Press 5 Jul. 1970: 1.
“What’s in a Name?” Gadsden Times 23 May 1974: 3.
“What’s in a Name?” Ocala Star-Banner 16 May 1977: 2B.