How popular is the baby name Wilma in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Wilma and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Wilma.
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Time for more unusual female names from old films!
Here’s something I didn’t know until recently: many (most?) of the “Indian maiden” characters in early movies had names starting with W. As a result, about half of the names below refer to Native American characters specifically. I’m not sure how many of these Native American names are legit, though. If you can verify any of them, please leave a comment.
Wah-na-gi was a character played by actress Anita King in the film The Squaw Man’s Son (1917).
Wahnah was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the short film Kidnapped by Indians (1914).
Princess Wah-tah was a character played by actress Yvonne De Carlo in the film The Deerslayer (1943).
Wah-ta-wah was a character played by actress Aline Goodwin in the film serial Leatherstocking (1924).
Wahtonka was a character played by actress Claire Du Brey in the film Dakota (1945).
Wahtunka was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the short film Brought to Justice (1914).
Walmura was a character played by actress Mona Darkfeather in the short film The Fate of a Squaw (1914).
Walpurga was a character played by actress Mrs. A. C. Marston in the short film On the Heights (1914).
Wamba was a character name in multiple films, including Wamba, a Child of the Jungle (short, 1913) and Justice of the Far North (1925).
Wambi was a character played by actress Lule Warrenton in the short film The Queen of Jungle Land (1915).
Wana was a character played by actress Alice Joyce in the short film The Indian Maid’s Sacrifice (1911).
Wanama was a character played by actress Armida in the film Jungle Goddess (1948).
Wanana was a character played by actress Marie Walcamp in the short film A Daughter of the Redskins (1914).
Wanda Hawley was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1895. Wanda McKay was an actress who appeared in films mainly in the 1940s. She was born in Oregon in 1915. Wanda was also a character name in multiple films, including The One-Way Trail (1920) and Men Are Such Fools (1938).
Wowkle was a character played by actress Anita King in the film The Girl of the Golden West (1915), by Neola May in The Girl of the Golden West (1930), and by Ynez Seabury in The Girl of the Golden West (1938). The film was based on the play The Girl of the Golden West (1905) by David Belasco, who found the name Wowkle in the writings of ethnographer Stephen Powers, who claimed the name meant “fox” among the Nisenan of California.
Wyllis Hyde was a character played by actress Pauline Starke in the film The Argument (1918).
Wynne Gibson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in New York in 1898. Wynne was also a character played by actress Anita Louise in the film Lady Tubbs (1935).
On the girls’ list, Alice replaces Elsa as the #1 name.
In the top 10, Alicia replaces Saga. Alicia’s rise from 21st in 2015 to 6th last year was inspired by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in early 2016 for her role in The Danish Girl (2015).
Overall, the girl name that saw the sharpest increase in usage was Chloe. The girl name that saw the sharpest drop in usage was Elsa.
On the boys’ side, Oscar replaces William as the #1 name.
In the top 10, Alexander and Noah replace Axel and Vincent.
Overall, that boy name that saw the sharpest rise in usage was Nicolas (followed by Frans, boosted by Swedish singer-songwriter Frans, who represented Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest 2016). The boy name that saw the steepest decrease in usage was Anton.
It should be noted that Sweden does combine spelling variants to come up with national rankings, though I don’t know to what degree. The single example that Statistics Sweden offered was Vilma (159 baby girls) being counted with Wilma (421 baby girls). For that 10th-place total of 587, though, there would need to be at least one more variant in the mix. (I did notice “Whilma” in the database.)
Oodles of multiples — eight sets of twins, one set of triplets, six sets of quadruplets, and one set of quintuplets — were featured in an early 1944 issue of LIFE magazine. Most of these multiples had been born in the 1920s and 1930s.
Curious about the names? I knew you would be! Here they are, along with ages and other details.
Marjorie and Mary Vaughan, 19.
Lois and Lucille Barnes, 21.
Betty and Lenore Wade, early 20s.
Robert “Bobby” and William “Billy” Mauch, 22.
They had starred in the 1937 movie The Prince and the Pauper.
Blaine and Wayne Rideout, 27.
They had been track stars at the University of North Texas in the late 1930s along with another set of twins, Elmer and Delmer Brown.
Charles and Horace Hildreth, 41.
Horace was elected Governor of Maine later the same year.
Ivan and Malvin Albright, 47.
Auguste and Jean Piccard, 60.
“Honors as the world’s most distinguished pair of twins must go to Jean and Auguste Piccard, stratosphere balloonists, who are so identical that not everyone realizes there are two of them.”
Diane Carol, Elizabeth Ann, and Karen Lynn Quist, 11 months.
So my question is this: Could Essfa, a one-hit wonder from 1921, be another flaw?
According to the SSA data, the name Essfa was given to 6 babies in 1921, and all 6 of these babies were born in Vermont.
But when we look for these Essfas in the SSDI, we get…nothing. Not a single Essfa from anywhere, born in any year.
This doesn’t prove anything, but it is very curious.
Then there’s the fact that all these Essfas were born in Vermont, a relatively small state not known for adventurous baby-naming. The SSA’s Vermont-specific data from 1921 puts oddball Essfa on par with classics like Emma and Julia:
All baby names given to 6 babies in VT in 1921, according to SSA
After doing more research, I was only able to find a single person named Essfa who was born in Vermont in 1921. The intriguing part? She had multiple identities:
She was born Essfa Estella Bickford Vermont on May 7, 1921.
She became Essfa E. Davis upon marrying William Earl Davis in Vermont in 1937.
She became Essfa E. Millette upon marrying Rupert Frank Millette in New Hampshire in 1941.
She became Essfa E. Walker upon marrying Howard C. Walker in New Hampshire in 1953.
She became Essfa E. Davis (again) upon marrying Arthur I. Davis in Connecticut in 1964, and passed away in 1976 as a Davis.
And I found a sixth alias — in Billboard magazine, oddly enough. For decades Billboard operated a mail-forwarding service for traveling performers. The name “Essfa E. White” appeared regularly on their Letter List from 1945 until 1948. (She was also listed under the surname Millette once, in 1946.)
So we know for sure that one Essfa was born in Vermont in 1921, and that this Essfa used at least six different names (if you count Davis twice) throughout her lifetime.
At this point, I can’t help but wonder whether this particular Essfa was counted 6 different times in the SSA data somehow.