How popular is the baby name Virginia in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Virginia.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Virginia


Posts that Mention the Name Virginia

The Inception of Sway

sway, gone in 60 seconds, movie, character
Angelina Jolie as Sara “Sway” Wayland

The word Sway popped up for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 2001:

  • 2003: 14 baby girls and 5 baby boys named Sway
  • 2002: 12 baby girls named Sway
  • 2001: 8 baby girls named Sway [debut]
  • 2000: unlisted
  • 1999: unlisted

For a long time I assumed the main influence was MTV personality Sway Calloway. But, while I still think Sway had an influence on male usage, I’ve since discovered a much better explanation for the 2001 debut as a female name.

One of the main characters in the 2000 car heist film Gone in 60 Seconds was mechanic-slash-bartender Sara “Sway” Wayland (played by Angelina Jolie). She was the love interest of protagonist Randall “Memphis” Raines (played by Nicolas Cage), who was tasked with stealing 50 specific, expensive cars inside of 72 hours.

The film didn’t get great reviews, but I do remember appreciating the fact that each of the 50 cars was assigned a feminine code-name:

Mary, Barbara, Lindsey, Laura, Alma, Madeline, Patricia, Carol, Daniela, Stefanie, Erin, Pamela, Olga, Anne, Kate, Vanessa, Denise, Diane, Lisa, Nadine, Angelina, Rose, Susan, Tracey, Rachel, Bernadene, Deborah, Stacey, Josephine, Hillary, Kimberley, Renee, Dorothy, Donna, Samantha, Ellen, Gabriela, Shannon, Jessica, Sharon, Tina, Marsha, Natalie, Virginia, Tanya, Grace, Ashley, Cathy, Lynn, Eleanor

So, how do you feel about the name Sway? If you were having a baby girl, would you be more likely to name her something modern, like Sway, or something traditional, like Sara or Susan?

Sources: Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia, Talk:Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) – Wikipedia

Tonga: Baby Name Inspired by Early TV?

tonga, nina bara, space patrol, 1950s, television, sci-fi
Tonga from Space Patrol

The intriguing name Tonga debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1953:

  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: 7 baby girls named Tonga [debut]
  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: unlisted

I don’t think the Polynesian country had anything to do with it. Instead, I’m thinking that it may have come from the the early science-fiction TV series Space Patrol. It began as a Los Angeles-only show in early 1950, but by early 1951 it was being syndicated nationally both on TV and on radio (thanks to being picked up by the ABC network).

Set a thousand years in the future, the show featured members of the Space Patrol crew endeavoring to fight against the bad guys of the solar system. The two female crew members were named Tonga (played by Nina Bara) and Carol (Virginia Hewitt). Tonga’s character began as a criminal, but by the time the show had a national audience, she had undergone a “Brainograph” treatment and joined up with the good guys.

The name Tonga may have been given a boost in 1953 specifically thanks to LIFE magazine drawing attention to the show in a 1952 feature article (“Space Patrol Conquers Kids,” Sept. 1952)…or maybe it simply showed up because Space Patrol‘s audience was still growing at that time.

But the name dropped out of the data the very next year — possibly because actress Nina Bara was released from the show in late 1953, so the character Tonga didn’t appear in the show very frequently after that.

All this said…I should also mention that the name Tanya and its variants were on the rise during the 1950s, and that “Tonga” ended up being used as a variant of Tanya on occasion (likely by way of Tanja). So that’s another possible reason for the debut.

Do you like Tonga as a baby name? If so, how would you pronounce it?

Sources:

P.S. A supporting character in the 1953 Gary Cooper movie Return to Paradise also happened to be named Tonga, but this character was male.

Rare Girl Names from Early Cinema: B

bessie love, actress

Time for more unusual female names from old films!

This is the “B” installment, meaning that we are almost done with the series. (I’ve been going backwards since starting with Z in early 2017.)

For those names that saw enough usage to register in the national data set, I’ve included links to the popularity graphs.

*

Babbie
Babbie was a character played by actress Betty Compson in the film The Little Minister (1921).

  • Usage of the baby name Babbie.

Babette
Babette was a character name in multiple films, including A Circus Romance (1916) and Babette (1917).

Babs
Babs was a character name in multiple films, including Blondie Goes to College (1942) and Ever Since Venus (1944).

  • Usage of the baby name Babs.

Babsie
Babsie was a character played by actress Olympe Bradna in the film Souls at Sea (1937).

Babsy
Babsy was a character played by actress Ruth Robinson in the film Under Eighteen (1931).

Baclanova
Olga Baclanova, often credited simply as Baclanova, was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in Russia in 1896.

Balu
Balu was a character played by actress Kathlyn Williams in the short film The Leopard’s Foundling (1914).

Bara
Bara was a character played by actress Edythe Sterling in the film The Ghost Wagon (1915).

  • Usage of the baby name Bara.

Barah
Barah was a character played by actress Laura Woods Cushing in the short film The Rug Maker’s Daughter (1915).

Bartine
Bartine Burkett was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1980s. She was born in Louisiana in 1898.

Bathsheba
Bathsheba Everdene was a character played by actress Florence Turner in the film Far from the Madding Crowd (1915).

Batooka
Batooka was a character played by actress Evelyn Selbie in the film A Cafe in Cairo (1924).

Bea
Bea Walters was a character played by actress Lila Lee in the film Queen of the Night Clubs (1929).

  • Usage of the baby name Bea.

Beata
Beata was a character played by actress Winifred Greenwood in the short film The Broken Window (1915).

  • Usage of the baby name Beata.

Beatie
Beatie Olna Travers was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in England in 1885.

Beattie
Beattie was a character name in multiple films, including The Magistrate (1921) and Mothers Cry (1930).

Bebe
Bebe Daniels was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1950s. She was born in Texas in 1901. Her birth name was Phyllis Virginia Daniels.

  • Usage of the baby name Bebe.

Becka
Becka Lipvitch was a character played by actress Virginia Valli in the film East Side, West Side (1927).

  • Usage of the baby name Becka.

Bedelia
Bedelia was a character name in multiple films, including A Trap to Catch a Burglar (1913) and Bedelia (1946).

  • Usage of the baby name Bedelia (which saw peak usage in 1947).

Bee
Bee Haven was a character played by actress Alberta Vaughn in the film Uneasy Payments (1927).

  • Usage of the baby name Bee.

Beebe
Beebe was a character played by actress Shirley Mason in the film Flame of Youth (1920).

  • Usage of the baby name Beebe.

Begonia
Begonia Baggot was a character played by actress Bessie Love in the film Sons of the Sea (1941).

Bela
Bela was a character played by actress Colleen Moore in the film The Huntress (1923).

  • Usage of the baby name Bela.

Belinha
Belinha De Rezende was a character played by actress Dolores del Rio in the film Flying Down to Rio (1933).

Belita
Belita was an actress and figure skater who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1960s. She was born in England in 1923. Her birth name was Belita Gladys Olive Lyne Jepson-Turner.

  • Usage of the baby name Belita (which debuted in the data in 1943).

Belva
Belva McKay was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1904.

  • Usage of the baby name Belva.

Bendetta
Bendetta was a character played by actress Martha Mattox in the film The Man in Blue (1925).

Benita
Benita Hume was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in England in 1906.

  • Usage of the baby name Benita.

Benjamine
Benjamine Downey was a character played by actress Anna Murdock in the film The Richest Girl (1918).

Beppa
Beppa was a character played by actress Charlotte Burton in the short film Heart of Flame (1915).

Berengaria
Berengaria was a character played by actress Loretta Young in the film The Crusades (1935).

Bernarda
Bernarda was a character played by actress Martha Mattox in the film Torrent (1926).

Bernice
Bernice Allen was a character played by actress Judith Allen in the film Boots and Saddles (1937).

Bertalda
Bertalda was a character played by actress Marguerite Snow in the short film Undine (1912).

Bertha
Bertha Kalich was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in Austria-Hungary (now Ukraine) in 1874. Bertha was also a character name in multiple films, including Fisher Folks (short, 1911) and Caravan (1946).

  • Usage of the baby name Bertha.

Berthe
Berthe de Praslin was a character played by actress Ann Todd in the film All This, and Heaven Too (1940).

  • Usage of the baby name Berthe.

Berthelda
Berthelda was a character played by actress Edna Maison in the film Undine (1916).

Berthine
Berthine Waller was a character played by actress Margaret Livingston in the film The Lady Refuses (1931).

Bertie
Bertie Pitcairn was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. Bertie was also a character played by actress Wanda Hawley in the film Let Women Alone (1925).

  • Usage of the baby name Bertie.

Beryl
Beryl Mercer was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in England in 1876. Beryl Morhange was an actress who appeared in 1 film in 1915. Beryl was also a character name in multiple films, including Only the Maid (short, 1915) and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939).

  • Usage of the baby name Beryl.

Berylune
Berylune was a character played by actress Lillian Cook in the film The Blue Bird (1918).

Bessie

  • Bessie Learn was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in California in 1888.
  • Bessie Love was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1980s. She was born in Texas in 1898. Her birth name was Juanita Horton.
  • Bessie Eyton was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in California in 1890.

Bessie was also a character name in multiple films, including Tomboy Bessie (short, 1912) and The False Alarm (1926).

  • Usage of the baby name Bessie.

Betta
Betta was a character played by actress Marga Rubia Levy in the film Betta, the Gypsy (1918).

  • Usage of the baby name Betta.

Bettina
Bettina was a character name in multiple films, including Bettina’s Substitute (short, 1912) and The Woman in Red (1935).

Beulah
Beulah Bondi was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1960s. She was born in Illinois in 1889. Beulah was also a character name in multiple films, including Beulah (1915) and The Martyr Sex (1924).

  • Usage of the baby name Beulah.

Bijou
Bijou was a character name in multiple films, including The Goat (1918) and Seven Sinners (1940).

  • Usage of the baby name Bijou.

Billee
Billee was a character played by actress Ruth Roland in the short film When Men Wear Skirts (1914).

  • Usage of the baby name Billee (which debuted in the data the year after When Men Wear Skirts came out).

Bina
Bina was a character played by actress Neva Gerber in the short film The Prodigal Widow (1917).

  • Usage of the baby name Bina.

Binnie
Binnie Barnes was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1970s. She was born in England in 1903. Binnie was also a character name in multiple films, including Children of Chance (1930) and Big House (1938).

  • Usage of the baby name Binnie.

Birdie
Birdie was a character name in multiple films, including This Side of Heaven (1934) and A Stranger in Town (1943).

  • Usage of the baby name Birdie.

Blanche
Blanche Friderici was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to 1930s. She was born in New York in 1878. Blanche Sweet was an actress who appeared in films from the 1900s to the 1950s. She was born in Illinois in 1896. Blanche was also a character name in multiple films, including The War o’ Dreams (short, 1915) and The Wild Party (1923).

Blanchette
Blanchette was a character played by actress Marguerite Snow in the film The Patriot and the Spy (1915).

Blanny
Blanny Wheeler was a character played by actress May Allison in the film Fair and Warmer (1919).

Blanquette
Blanquette was a character played by various actresses (such as Madge Stuart and Margaret Lockwood) in various movies called The Beloved Vagabond, all based on the novel of the same name by William John Locke.

Bleuette
Bleuette Bernon was an actress who appeared in films from the 1890s to the 1900s. She was born in France in 1878. Her birth name was Léontine Ernestine Gauché.

Bliss
Bliss Milford was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in South Dakota in the late 1880s.

  • Usage of the baby name Bliss.

Blossom
Blossom was a character name in multiple films, including The Arizona Cat Claw (1919) and Alias Mary Smith (1932).

Blossy
Blossy Waveney was a character played by actress Olive Sloane in the film The Door That Has No Key (1921).

Bodil
Bodil Rosing was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in Denmark in 1877. Bodil Ipsen was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1960s. She was born in Denmark in 1889.

Bona
Bona was a character name in multiple films, including The Silken Spider (short, 1916) and The Wine Girl (1918).

  • Usage of the baby name Bona.

Bonita
Bonita Granville was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1980s. She was born in Illinois in 1923. Bonita was also a character name in multiple films, including A Question of Seconds (1912) and Arizona (1913).

  • Usage of the baby name Bonita.

Boots
Boots Mallory was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s. She was born in Louisiana in 1913. Her birth name was Patricia Mallory.

  • Usage of the baby name Boots.

Bricotte
Bricotte was a character played by actress Jacqueline Logan in the film Playing with Souls (1925).

Brida
Brida was a character played by actress Clara Blandick in the film Rockabye (1932).

Bridgeen
Bridgeen was a character played by actress Fay Tincher in the short film The Deceiver (1914).

Brigida
Brigida was a character played by actress Rosina Galli in the film Escape to Paradise (1939).

Brina
Brina was a character played by actress Neva Gerber in the short film The Mansard Mystery (1916).

  • Usage of the baby name Brina.

Brita
Brita Kaurin was a character played by actress Signe Hasso in the film A Double Life (1947).

  • Usage of the baby name Brita.

Bronwyn
Bronwyn was a character played by actress Anna Lee in the film How Green Was My Valley (1941).

  • Usage of the baby name Bronwyn (which debuted in the data the year after How Green Was My Valley came out).

Brouquet
Brouquet was a character played by actress Rosita Marstini in the film In Love with Life (1934).

Buena
Buena Bent was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1930s. She was born in England in 1890.

  • Usage of the baby name Buena.

Bunny
Bunny was a character played by Glenda Farrell in the film Merry Wives of Reno (1934).

  • Usage of the baby name Bunny.

Bunty
Bunty Payne was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1940s. She was born in England in 1912. Her birth name was Gladys Helena Pain. Bunty was also a character played by actress Ilka Chase in the film The Careless Age (1929).

Burahami
Burahami was a character played by actress Gladys Frazin in the film Kiss Me Sergeant (1932).

Buria
Buria was a character played by actress Maude Eburne in the film The Warrior’s Husband (1933).

Burnu
Burnu Acquanetta was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1990s. She was born in Wyoming in 1921. Her birth name was Mildred Davenport.

Butterfly
Butterfly McQueen was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1980s. She was born in Florida in 1919. Her birth name was Thelma McQueen.

Byrdie
Byrdie May was a character played by actress Pearl White in the film McGuirk, the Sleuth (1912).

  • Usage of the baby name Byrdie.

Byrdine
Byrdine Zuber was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in Illinois in 1886.

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Which of the above B-names do you like best?

Source: IMDb

The Debut of Darrylin

darrylin zanuck, 1949, baby name
Darrylin Zanuck, 1949

Years before the boy name Darryl was at the height of its trendiness (in the early ’60s), the Darryl-based, Marilyn-like name Darrylin debuted in the baby name data:

  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: 6 baby girls named Darrylin
  • 1953: unlisted
  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: 8 baby girls named Darrylin
  • 1950: unlisted
  • 1949: 11 baby girls named Darrylin
  • 1948: unlisted

What made it show up in 1949 specifically?

Darrylin Zanuck, the teenage daughter of famous film producer Darryl Zanuck (founder of 20th Century Fox) and his wife Virginia (a former silent film actress).

She was in the news starting in August of 1949, after her parents announced that the 18-year-old had just gotten engaged to a 22-year-old University of Southern California student named Robert “Bob” Jacks (who went on to become a TV producer). The announcement mentioned that the couple would wed after his graduation the following year, but the pair ended up marrying just a few months later, in November.

And here’s some interesting trivia: Darrylin was a pioneering lady-surfer. In 1947, surfboard maker Joe Quigg crafted a board just for her — it was shorter and lighter than the boards being used by men at the time — and that board has since come to be known as the “Darrylin Board.”

What are your thoughts on the name Darrylin?

Sources:

[Here’s another name coined by Darryl and Virginia Zanuck: Darvi.]