Jungle Jim started as a comic strip in the mid-1930s. The titular character, Jim Bradley, was an American hunter living in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Another main character was his native sidekick, Kolu.
Jungle Jim stories were adapted for radio, film, and eventually a short-lived television series consisting of 26 episodes that aired from 1955 to 1956. The TV show introduced several new characters, including a boy named Skipper, a chimp named Tamba, and a new native sidekick named Kaseem. (Many sources called him a “Hindu manservant.”)
The show didn’t do much for the names Skipper or Tamba, but it did boost the name Kaseem up over the SSA’s 5-baby threshold for the first time:
1957: 11 baby boys named Kaseem [debut]
Incidentally, in the 1956 movie Zarak included a character named Kasim. And, surprisingly, Kaseem wasn’t the only turbaned man on TV influencing baby names in the ’50s — check out Korla.
The baby name Tamba debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1977:
1978: 6 baby girls named Tamba
1977: 6 baby girls named Tamba [debut]
Because that’s the year the makers of liquid hair relaxer Tamba launched a national advertising campaign, with ads appearing prominently in Ebony magazine (among other places).
The product seems to have been on the market only a few years, but it made enough of an impression on RuPaul that he mentioned Tamba in his 1993 song “Back to My Roots”:
This song reached the #1 spot on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, believe it or not.
What do you think of the name Tamba?
P.S. Did you know the “Ru” in RuPaul was inspired by roux, the a flour-and-fat mixture used to thicken sauces? RuPaul’s mother was a Louisiana native, and she chose the name to “pay homage to her creole roots…Mama always said “the best Gumbo starts with the perfect roux.”” She also liked the name’s star-power, proclaiming (rather prophetically): “He’s gonna be a star, ’cause ain’t another m*therf*cker alive with a name like that.”