I’ve known for a while that the baby name Passion debuted impressively in 1974. Not as high as Nakia, but higher than Savalas.
1976: 30 baby girls named Passion
1975: 34 baby girls named Passion
1974: 34 baby girls named Passion [debut]
I occasionally looked for a reason, but never spent too much time on it because word-names are notoriously tricky to research.
Then I happened to discover something about the like-sounding name Pashen — which also debuted in ’74, and which I thought was merely a variant of Passion.
1975: 6 baby girls named Pashen
1974: 9 baby girls named Pashen [debut & peak]
As it turns out, the blaxploitation movie Willie Dynamite, which was released nationally in early 1974, featured a female character named Pashen (played by Joyce Walker). Willie was a New York City pimp, and Pashen was one of his call girls. Here’s how Pashen’s name appears in the end credits:
So: “Pashen” was the main form of the name, while “Passion” — despite being correctly spelled — was the variant form. (Other variant forms that also debuted in 1974 were Pashion and the one-hit wonderPashun.)
Since then, though, “Passion” has emerged as the preferred spelling among expectant parents. Well over 2,000 baby girls have been named Passion since the mid-1970s, whereas only about two dozen baby girls have been named Pashen.
What are your thoughts on these names? Which spelling do you prefer?
The TV crime drama Kojak was on the air for five seasons (1973 to 1978). It starred actor Aristotelis “Telly” Savalas as lollipop-sucking, tough-talking, big-hearted New York City police detective Theo Kojak. The series became very popular and, as a result, all of the names in that sentence (Aristotelis, Telly, Savalas, Theo, and Kojak) either debuted or saw increased usage in the baby name data in the mid-1970s:
The name Savalas is currently tied for 48th-highest boy name debut of all time. The name Telly reached the top 1,000 for the first time in 1974, and variant name Telley debuted the same year. Even Aristotle was affected.
So…where do those “Azure” names come from?
They’re from a specific Kojak episode called “Elegy in an Asphalt Graveyard,” which first aired on February 2, 1975. The episode focused on the murder of a character named Azure Dee (played by Denyce Liston), a Manhattan call-girl who Kojak happened to know. Also, notably, the episode began and ended with a melancholy song called “Azure Dee,” [vid] sung by Telly Savalas himself.
The name Azure is currently the 20th-highest girl name debut of all time. The similar name Azuree debuted the same year, but Azuree was probably influenced as much by the the Estée Lauder perfume as by the Kojak character.
This week let’s finish checking out the top baby name debuts of all time.
I’ll be counting down the 50 most popular boy name debuts in five posts, from today until Friday. (I did the top girl name debuts a couple of weeks ago.) I didn’t break any ties, so this “top 50” list actually has 93 names.
I came up with explanations for as many names as I could, but I’m still stumped on a few of them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these.
Here’s 50 to 41:
Cordaryl, Devaunte, Jeffren, Naksh, Sanjaya, Tige & Trysten, 7-way tie for #50
Cordaryl debuted with 28 baby boys in 1986.
Inspired by Cordero Roberts, a character on the soap opera “One Life to Live.”
Devaunte debuted with 28 baby boys in 1992.
Inspired by singer DeVante Swing, a member of Jodeci.
Jeffren debuted with 28 baby boys in 2010.
Inspired by soccer player Jeffren Suarez.
Naksh debuted with 28 baby boys in 2012.
Inspired by Naksh, a character on the Indian TV show “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai.”
Sanjaya debuted with 28 baby boys in 2007.
Inspired by Sanjaya Malakar, a contestant on the TV singing competition “American Idol.”