The first and only time the baby name Drene made it onto the SSA’s list was 1946:
1946: 6 baby girls named Drene [debut]
Drene shampoo…kind of.
Drene, the first shampoo to use synthetic detergent instead of soap, had been introduced by Procter & Gamble in 1934. So the product had been on the market for more than a decade by the mid-1940s.
What drew people’s attention to Drene in 1946 specifically, then?
Drene Time (NBC), the Sunday night radio series sponsored by Procter & Gamble. The 30-minute variety show featured singing and comedy and was co-hosted by Don Ameche and Frances Langford. It only lasted from mid-1946 to mid-1947, but that gave it enough time to influence the baby name charts, if only slightly.
Don Ameche and Frances Langford went on to co-star in the sketch comedy radio series The Bickersons (1947-1951), which featured characters they’d played on Drene Time.
Drene shampoo continued to be sold until the 1970s, at which point P&G stopped production in the U.S.
The baby name Sharlie popped up on the SSA’s baby name list for the very first time in 1933. It was the second-highest girl-name debut that year after Gayleen.
1935: not listed
1934: 10 baby girls named Sharlie
1933: 20 baby girls named Sharlie [debut]
1932: not listed
What was the inspiration?
My guess is the catch phrase “Vas you dere, Sharlie?” which became very popular around 1933.
It was introduced to radio audiences in 1932 by comedian Jack Pearl, playing his character Baron Munchausen (loosely based on Baron Münchhausen) on the program The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.
As the Baron, Pearl would tell far-fetched stories with a comic German accent. When the straight man expressed skepticism, the Baron replied with his familiar tagline and punchline: “Vass you dere, Sharlie?”
“In 1933, Jack Pearl’s fame had reached such heights that he was summoned to MGM, the most prestigious studio in Hollywood, to star in his first feature, Meet The Baron.”
According to the Hollywood Walk of Fame site, the Baron’s catch phrase “soon became part of the national lexicon.”
Unfortunately for Pearl, though, radio audiences soon tired of the Baron:
Pearl’s “Vos you dere, Sharlie?” made him an overnight sensation and a virtual overnight has-been. It was his best and just about only idea, and–as Jack Benny had warned him might happen–the Baron wore out his welcome quickly.
Nachman, Gerald. Raised on Radio. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998.