In 1939, the baby name Torchy made its one and only appearance on the SSA’s baby name list:
- 1940: unlisted
- 1939: 8 baby girls named Torchy [debut]
- 1938: unlisted
Two years later, variant spelling Torchie did the same thing.
Where did these two one-hit wonders come from?
The inspiration was fast-talking fictional newspaper reporter Torchy Blane, the heroine of nine low-budget movies released in the late ’30s with titles like Torchy Gets Her Man (1938), Torchy Blane in Chinatown (1939) and Torchy Runs for Mayor (1939).
All of the films “followed the same formula — the nimble-minded, intuitive Torchy (who never bothered to take notes when she interviewed a person) would end up solving a crime way before her lunkhead boyfriend, police Det. Steve McBride.”
Ironically, Torchy Blane’s real first name wasn’t Torchy. According to two of the films, her first name was actually Theresa.
Most of the time the Torchy was played by actress Glenda Farrell, though twice she was played by other actresses (Lola Lane and Jane Wyman, respectively).
And that reminds me — did you know that Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel was inspired by Torchy Blane to create the character Lois Lane? He’s how he puts it:
Our heroine was of course a working girl whose priority was grabbing big scoops. What inspired me in the creation was Glenda Farrell, the movie star who portrayed Torchy Blane. Because of the name Lola Lane, who also played Torchy, appealed to me, I called my character Lois Lane.
- Before Lois Lane, Torchy Blane got the scoop
- Bubbeo, Daniel. The Women of Warner Brothers. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2001.
- Oh Boy, What a Story! – The ‘Torchy Blane Collection’ Is Now on DVD