A soprano named Devy Barnett who performed on the TV talent competition Ted Mack & the Original Amateur Hour at least once, on May 16, 1960. (She may have appeared on other episodes that year as well, I’m not sure.)
I don’t have much information on Devy. She was a music student at Rutgers in the early ’50s, she put out her first recording (Songs of Charles Ives, released by Stereo Age) in 1958, and in the ’80s she was a member of the studio music faculty at Cal State. She married at least twice, and had several children.
But she never achieved fame. Apparently not many Amateur Hour contestants did, with a few notable exceptions: Gladys Knight, Pat Boone, Ann-Margret, Tanya Tucker, and Irene Cara (see the posts on Fame and Sparkle for more on Irene).
The name Devy reminds me of the name Eydie in that both names were put on the onomastic map by young singers making television appearances. (Coincidentally, Eydie was also given to exactly 27 baby girls in 1960.)
What are your thoughts on the name Devy? Do you like it?
Below are all the names we came up with and how they fared on the charts last year.
First up, the names that made the biggest gains. (Some of these were on their way up anyway, so I’ll leave it to you guys to interpret just how much each one was/was not helped along by pop culture events.)
The 1976 movie Sparkle is set the late ’50s/early ’60s and follows three sisters — Sparkle (played by Irene Cara), Sister and Delores — as they form a girl group and try to find fame. It’s loosely based on the story of the Supremes, though set in Harlem instead of Detroit.
Did Sparkle have an influence on U.S. baby names? Yes — the baby name Sparkle, bestowed infrequently before the release of the movie, was given to dozens (and, later, hundreds) of baby girls starting in the mid-1970s:
1980: 110 baby girls named Sparkle
1979: 125 baby girls named Sparkle
1978: 71 baby girls named Sparkle
1977: 89 baby girls named Sparkle
1976: 44 baby girls named Sparkle
1975: not listed
And actress Dwan Smith, who portrayed Delores in the film, boosted the visibility (and usage) of the baby name Dwan:
1978: 39 baby girls named Dwan
1977: 61 baby girls named Dwan
1976: 47 baby girls named Dwan
1975: 12 baby girls named Dwan
Lately, Sparkle’s numbers have been much less impressive…but that could soon change, as a remake of Sparkle starring Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks is set to be released on August 17.
Tika is another Sparkle name we should watch for. Delores is played by Tika Sumpter in the remake, so it’s possible that Tika could get a boost in 2012 the way Dwan did in 1976.
Do you think the new movie could spark a Sparkle comeback? Could Tika take off?
P.S. Tika Sumpter’s birth name was Euphemia. Ironically, the sisters’ mother in the movie was named Effie — a nickname for Euphemia. (And Effie was played by actress Mary Alice, whose mother had the very interesting name Ozelar.)
P.S. In the 2006-2009 reports, the heading of the unique names section was “Selected Unique Names, Yewneek Spellings.” For 2010, it was lengthened to “Selected Unique Baby Names, Yewneek Baybee Spellings.” I happen to love these headings, but aren’t they a bit snarky for an official state document…?