The cute name Tisa first appeared in the U.S. Social Security Administration’s baby name dataset in the late ’40s:
- 1951: 6 baby girls named Tisa
- 1950: 5 baby girls named Tisa
- 1949: 11 baby girls named Tisa
- 1948: 15 baby girls named Tisa [debut]
- 1947: unlisted
What gave the name a boost that year?
The long-forgotten movie My Girl Tisa, which was set in New York City in the early 1900s. It followed a Hungarian immigrant named Tisa Kepes (played by Lilli Palmer, herself a German immigrant) whose aim was to earn enough money to bring her father to the United States.
Leonard Maltin called the film “sincere but uninspiring.”
So is Tisa a legitimate Hungarian name? Good question. It doesn’t seem to be a traditional female name, but there’s a well-known river that runs through Hungary called the Tisza. So perhaps this one is a modern creation along the lines of the Irish name Shannon (inspired by the River Shannon).
The name Tisa saw its highest usage (and even popped into the top 1,000 for a year) in 1970, when Theresa Magdalena “Tisa” Farrow — sister of newly famous Mia Farrow — decided to try acting and appeared in her first film, the low-budget counter-culture drama Homer (1970).
Source: My Girl Tisa (1948) – TCM