The name Valerie was rising fast on the baby name charts in the ’40s and ’50s, but the specific spelling Vallorie debuted and spiked in usage right in the middle of that period:
1952: 8 baby girls named Vallorie
1951: 5 baby girls named Vallorie
1950: 49 baby girls named Vallorie [peak]
1949: 6 baby girls named Vallorie [debut]
Comics! The Brenda Starr, Reporter comic strip featured a storyline called “Queen Vallorie” during the early months of 1950. Queen Vallorie wasn’t an adult, but a little girl who ran off to America with her dog (Veronica) after the death of her grandfather, the king of Gastovia (a fictional European nation). Vallorie was next in line for the throne.
Generations ago, fewer parents named their newborns right away — that’s how how a comic strip character from 1950 would have influenced the names of babies born 1949.
The main character of the strip, glamorous redhead Brenda Starr, had been modeled after actress Rita Hayworth and named after two things: debutante Brenda Frazier, and the fact that she was the star reporter at her newspaper, The Flash.
Strip creator Dale Messick (1906-2005) ended up naming her own daughter Starr (b. 1942) after the character. And when the character had a baby girl in 1977, the baby was in turn named Starr after Dale’s real-life daughter.
Dale herself was originally a Dalia, but was convinced (by a secretary at the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate) to change her first name to Dale “to get around the blatant sexism of the time.”
Madge Evans was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in New York in 1909. Her birth name was Margherita Evans. Madge Kennedy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1970s. She was born in Illinois in 1891. Madge was also a character name in multiple films, including The Tragedy of Ambition (short, 1914) and The Peace of Roaring River (1919).
Magda Foy was a child actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in New York in 1905. Her birth name was Magdalena Patricia Foy. Madga was also a character played by actress Gertrude Michael in the film I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby (1940).
Malvina Longfellow was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in New York in 1889. Malvina Polo was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in California in 1903. Malvina was also a character name in multiple films, including Ann Vickers (1933) and Let’s Make Music (1941).
Marcelle Corday was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in Belgium in 1890. Marcelle Hontabat was an actress who appeared in 1 film in 1916. She was born in New York in 1897. Marcelle was also a character name in multiple films, including The Way Out (1918) and 50 Million Frenchmen (1931).
Maud Allan was an actress who appeared in 1 film in 1915. She was born in Canada in 1873. Her birth name was Beulah Maude Durrant. Maud was also a character played by actress Miriam Cooper in the film Daughters of the Rich (1923).
Maudie Dunham was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in England in 1902. Maudie was also a character name in multiple films, including Tell Your Children (1922) and Night After Night (1932).
Mayflower was a character played by actress Gladys Hulette in the film Secrets of Paris (1922).
Mayme Kelso was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Ohio in 1867. Mayme was also a character name in multiple films, including One Hundred Percent American (short, 1918) and The Mighty (1929).
In June of 1982, the Toledo Blade ran a short article about two local brothers who “enjoy the distinction of having initials which spell their names.” One was Thomas Owen Matzinger (T.O.M.), the other was James Irvin Matzinger (J.I.M.). Their dad Mike said it was “just as well” that he didn’t have any more kids, because he couldn’t think of any other sets of names to fit the pattern.
My guess is that Mike was joking, because there are several other sets of initials that could work with an M-surname like Matzinger, one of which, T.I.M., is just a letter away from T.O.M.
In fact, there are at least a couple of combinations that would work with every type of surname.
So today, in honor of the Matzingers of Toledo, I’ve come up with a long list of name-spelling initials. They’re sorted by third initial (that is, the first letter of the last name) so you can scroll straight to the set that matches up with your own surname.
Initials that Spell Names & Nicknames
Surname starts with:
Potential full initials (& example combo):
A.D.A. (Adelaide Diane A.) A.N.A. (Anastasia Nadine A.) A.S.A. (Asa Scott A.) A.V.A. (Ava Virginia A.) B.E.A. (Beatrix Elaine A.) E.V.A. (Eva Veronica A.) G.I.A. (Gia Idonea A.) I.D.A. (Idabelle Daria A.) I.N.A. (Ina Nigella A.) I.R.A. (Ira Ralph A.) I.S.A. (Isabel Simone A.) K.I.A. (Kia Ianthe A.) L.E.A. (Leah Elizabeth A.) M.I.A. (Mia Imelda A.) N.I.A. (Nia Ilona A.) O.D.A. (Odalys Delfina A.) O.R.A. (Ora Ruth A.) U.M.A. (Uma Magnolia A.) U.N.A. (Una Normina A.)
D.E.B. (Deborah Ethel B.) J.E.B. (Jeb Evan B.) L.I.B. (Libbie Ione B.) R.O.B. (Robert Orville B.) S.E.B. (Sebastian Everly B.) S.Y.B. (Sybil Yvette B.) T.A.B. (Tabitha Araminta B.) Z.E.B. (Zebulon Ezekiel B.)
B.E.C. (Becky Eowyn C.) M.A.C. (Mackenzie Anne C.) N.I.C. (Nicole Isabelle C.) V.I.C. (Victor Ivan C.) Z.A.C. (Zackary Arlo C.)
J.E.D. (Jedidiah Easton D.) R.O.D. (Rodney Orrin D.) T.E.D. (Theodora Eugenia D.) Z.E.D. (Zedekiah Ezra D.)
A.B.E. (Abraham Benjamin E.) A.C.E. (Ace Corbin E.) E.V.E. (Eve Violet E.) F.A.E. (Fae Adina E.) I.K.E. (Isaac Keith E.) J.O.E. (Joseph Owen E.) L.E.E. (Lee Ethan E.) M.A.E. (Maebelle Alice E.) M.O.E. (Morris Oscar E.) R.A.E. (Raelene Alicia E.) S.U.E. (Susan Ursula E.) Z.O.E. (Zoe Ocean E.)
C.A.L. (Callum Audley L.) D.E.L. (Delaney Estelle L.) G.I.L. (Gilbert Ishmael L.) H.A.L. (Harry Archibald L.) L.I.L. (Lillian Iva L.) M.A.L. (Malcolm Angus L.) M.E.L. (Melanie Eloisa L.) M.O.L. (Molly Odette L.) S.A.L. (Sally Angelica L.) S.O.L. (Solomon Osborn L.) V.A.L. (Valerie Annette L.) W.I.L. (Willy Ingo L.) Z.E.L. (Zelda Erin L.)
C.A.M. (Cameron Aidan M.) D.O.M. (Dominic Orson M.) J.E.M. (Jemima Eleanor M.) J.I.M. (James Irvin M.) K.I.M. (Kimberly Imogene M.) L.E.M. (Lemuel Emerson M.) P.A.M. (Pamela Alys M.) R.A.M. (Ramsey Archer M.) S.A.M. (Samuel Aaron M.) S.I.M. (Simon Isidore M.) T.A.M. (Tammy Anita M.) T.I.M. (Timothy Isaac M.) T.O.M. (Thomas Owen M.)
B.A.X. (Baxter Andrew X.) D.A.X. (Dax Alec X.) D.E.X. (Dexter Edison X.) J.A.X. (Jaxon Antony X.) L.E.X. (Lexie Eliza X.) M.A.X. (Maximus Alvin X.) P.A.X. (Pax Amelia X.) R.E.X. (Rex Elias X.) R.O.X. (Roxanna Opal X.) T.E.X. (Tex Emmanuel X.)
A.M.Y. (Amy Michelle Y.) G.U.Y. (Guy Urban Y.) I.V.Y. (Ivy Verity Y.) J.A.Y. (Jay Adam Y.) J.O.Y. (Joyce Ondina Y.) K.A.Y. (Katherine Addison Y.) M.A.Y. (May Augusta Y.) R.A.Y. (Raymond Adrian Y.) R.O.Y. (Royce Oberon Y.) S.K.Y. (Skylar Kerry Y.)
I’m in the middle of Alfred Lansing’s 1959 book Endurance, which tells the story of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917).
One intriguing detail Lansing mentions early on is that, of the 5,000+ people who applied to be part of the expedition, three were women: Peggy Pegrine, Valerie Davey, and Betty Webster.
They applied together in a single letter dated January 11, 1914. In the letter, they referred to themselves as “three sporty girls” who were “willing to undergo any hardships that you yourselves undergo.”
The names of these “sporty girls” aren’t particularly sporty, but which of the three — Peggy, Valerie, or Betty — do you like best?
Happy Friday! Here’s another batch of random, name-related quotes to end the week…
From the description of the December 15, 1947, cover of LIFE magazine:
Among the prettiest showgirls in New York’s nightclubs are (from left) brunette Dawn McInerney, red-haired Thana Barclay and blond Joy Skylar who all work in the Latin Quarter. […] Thana, also 22, was named after her mother’s favorite poem Thanatopsis. She is married to a song plugger named Duke Niles and owns a dachshund named Bagel.
The poem “Thanatopsis” was written by William Cullen Bryant. The word itself means “a view or contemplation of death.” In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the god of death.
From the All Music Guide to Hip-hop by Vladimir Bogdanov:
Ginuwine was born in Washington, D.C., on October 15, 1975, with the unlikely name of Elgin Baylor Lumpkin (after D.C.-born Basketball Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor).
Fellow immigrants…Here is proof that we need that national “conversation about race” urged by President Clinton: Last week in a whimsical moment I argued that official hurricane names are too “white bread” (like Greg) and don’t reflect America’s ethnic stew. To make my point I looked at the births page of the Sentinel for names that you never see attached to a hurricane — names such as Attaliah, Desjambra, Ofori. A reader called to complain about the “white bread” line and added, “A lot of those names aren’t even American.”
“Excuse me,” I said, “but they were born in this country. They’re just as American as you and me.”
“You know what I mean,” he said.
Yes, unfortunately, I think I do.
From The Making of Cabaret by Keith Garebian, regarding the name of English actress Valerie Jill Haworth, who was born on Victory over Japan Day (Aug. 15, 1945):
The initials of her baptismal names (Valerie Jill) were in honor of her birth on VJ Day.
There are some Japanese family names that are so ridiculous that I’m forced to believe that someone was playing some kind of horrible family prank when they named themselves. Cow Poop (Ushikuso), Horse-Butt (Umajiri), and Boar-Crotch (Inomata/Imata) are actual people in Japan. If they wanted a memorable name, they’ve certainly achieved it, but I can’t imagine what it’s like to grow up with a name like that as a child.
Fantasy novelist Neil Gaiman stresses the importance of a good name in describing the genesis of his American Gods protagonist. “There’s a magic to names, after all,” he says. “I knew his name [needed to be] descriptive. I tried calling him Lazy, but he didn’t seem to like that, and I called him Jack, and he didn’t like that any better. I took to trying every name I ran into on him for size, and he looked back at me from somewhere in my head unimpressed every time. It was like trying to name Rumpelstiltskin.”
He finally discovered the name, Shadow, in an Elvis Costello song. (American Gods will be on TV soon…will we soon be seeing more babies named Shadow?)