The rare name Marjoe has appeared in the U.S. baby name just twice, both times in the mid-1970s:
1975: 6 baby boys named Marjoe
1974: 6 baby boys named Marjoe [debut]
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?
Gaines, Steven S. Marjoe: The Life of Marjoe Gortner. New York: Harper & Row: 1973.
The French name Desiree was first popularized in the U.S. by the 1954 movie Désirée, which told the story of Désirée Clary, the one-time fiancée of Napoleon Bonaparte who later became the queen of Sweden and Norway.
Several years later, during the doo-wop craze of the ’50s, five Harlem-based teens formed a vocal group called The Charts — intentionally naming themselves after the Billboard‘s hits list in the hope that they would one day see themselves on the charts.
Despite being booed off stage during an Apollo Theater amateur night, the quintet got signed to a label and ended up recording several songs before disbanding in 1958.
The only Charts song to actually reach the charts? “Deserie,” a “huge East Coast doo wop cult classic” that appeared on Billboard‘s pop chart four times during the second half of 1957, peaking at 88th.
Here’s a video featuring the song:
But the Charts actually charted twice, because the baby name Deserie debuted on the U.S. baby name charts the very same year:
1960: 15 baby girls named Deserie
1959: 8 baby girls named Deserie
1958: 7 baby girls named Deserie
1957: 13 baby girls named Deserie [debut]
Though the spelling and pronunciation aren’t quite the same, Deserie (deh-zə-REE) was no doubt inspired by then-trendy Desiree (deh-zi-RAY), which can be traced back to the Latin word for “desired,” desideratum.
Which name do you like better, Desiree or Deserie?
Warner, Jay. American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006.
Corryvreckan – The Gulf of Corryvreckan (from the Gaelic Coire Bhreacain) is a narrow strait off Scotland’s west coast famous for its large whirlpool. Corryvreckan’s father, a whisky expert, also admits that “we may have joked with the name while I was sipping on some of the peat-astic Ardbeg Corryvreckan.” (Source: Why Corryvreckan is a dram fine name for my baby says whisky expert Andy Bell)
The last name in the summer Mystery Monday series is Johnross, which debuted on the charts in 1982:
1986: 8 baby boys named Johnross
1984: 5 baby boys named Johnross
1982: 11 baby boys named Johnross [debut]
Dallas, the popular TV show, seems like the obvious answer here. After all, it featured a whopping three characters named John Ross: John Ross “Jock” Ewing, Sr., John Ross “J.R.” Ewing, Jr., and John Ross Ewing III.
But which character did it refer to specifically? And why?
My guess is the youngest — the only one actually called “John Ross” on the show — but he’d been a character since his (fictional) birth in 1979, so I’m not sure how/why he’d be influencing the charts years later.
If you watched Dallas in the early ’80s, what are your thoughts on this? What am I missing?
Just 15 seconds after midnight on 1 January 1976, Charles and Valerie Hammer welcomed a baby girl at Georgetown University Hospital. Their New Year’s Day baby was named Holly Elizabeth-Ross — Holly because she was born during the Christmas season, Elizabeth-Ross because she was born on the same day as famous flag-maker Betsy Ross.
Here’s what Dad had to say about the middle name:
Betsy Ross also was born Jan. 1, but in 1752. She’s the mother of the flag. She picked the colors, too. She was a very well-read woman, and pretty forward-thinking for her time. That’s the way we want our daughter to be.
Love that a baby born in the nation’s capital during the bicentennial got a middle name that’s both personally significant and patriotic. Cool choice.
Source: “First Baby Named for Betty Ross.” Dispatch [Lexington] 5 Jan. 1976: 1.