The exotic-looking name Saadia first popped up in the SSA’s baby name data in 1954:
1959: 5 baby girls named Saadia
1957: 9 baby girls named Saadia
1956: 10 baby girls named Saadia
1955: 17 baby girls named Saadia
1954: 19 baby girls named Saadia [debut]
The movie Saadia, released at the end of 1953. (It was based on the 1950 book Échec au destin by Francis D’Autheville.)
The film was set in the Moroccan desert, and the primary female character was a young woman named Saadia (pronounced sah-dee-ah), played by actress Rita Gam.
Though the character was female, the earliest known real-life Saadia was male: Sa’adia ben Joseph, 10th-century Jewish philosopher and rabbi.
The name “Saadia,” which, so far as is known, he was the first to bear, is apparently an artificial Hebrew equivalent of his Arabic name, “Sa’id.”
The name Sa’id means “happy” or “lucky” in Arabic.
But, getting back to the 1950s…a comedic movie called 3 Ring Circus — filmed while Saadia was playing in theaters, and released at the end of 1954 — also included a character named Saadia (this time played by Zsa Zsa Gabor). This second film may have influenced expectant parents as well.
These days, main association for the name Jolie, from the French word for “pretty,” is actress Angelina Jolie (who single-handedly turned Maleficent into a baby name a few years ago). But Angie — though she’s certainly influenced the usage of the name recently — didn’t put the name on the map in the late ’40s:
1952: 22 baby girls named Jolie
1951: 19 baby girls named Jolie
1950: 26 baby girls named Jolie
1949: 6 baby girls named Jolie
1948: 9 baby girls named Jolie
1947: 7 baby girls named Jolie [debut]
In 2006, name expert Cleveland Kent Evans noted that the name “was first brought to the attention of Americans by Jolie Gabor…the mother of actresses Eva and Zsa Zsa Gabor.” I don’t think this is wrong — I think Jolie Gabor may account for some of the usage of the name during the ’50s — but I also don’t think it’s right, as Zsa Zsa wasn’t terribly famous in ’40s. (The name Zsa Zsa first appeared in the data in 1957.)
My guess on the 1947 debut of Jolie is the song “New Jolie Blonde” by country singer Red Foley. That, plus a couple of the similar songs: “New Pretty Blonde (Jole Blon)” by Aubrey “Moon” Mullican and “(Our Own) Jole Blon” by Roy Acuff. All three saw heavy play on juke boxes in 1947, according to Billboard. Red’s rendition, which featured the “Jolie” spelling in the title, was the most successful.
The song is ultimately based on the old (pre-1900) Cajun song “Jole Blon.” In 1946, Cajun fiddler Harry Choates came out with an updated version of the song that saw moderate success. Other performers then followed Harry’s lead with their own versions.
(According to one source, the title of the version by Harry Choates was initially misspelled jolie blonde, “thus forever altering the song title among Anglophone audiences,” but I haven’t seen any evidence of this misspelling, so I doubt it would have had much impact. The Choates version was only ever called “Jole Blon” in Billboard magazine, for example.)
This one is easy. Zsazsa debuted in the U.S. data in 1957:
1960: 8 baby girls named Zsazsa
1959: 12 baby girls named Zsazsa
1958: 5 baby girls named Zsazsa
1957: 6 baby girls named Zsazsa [debut]
The source, of course, is glamorous Hungarian-born Zsa Zsa (pronounced zhah zhah) Gábor.
It’s hard to know what caused the debut specifically, but it probably wasn’t the movies. More likely it was Zsa Zsa’s many TV appearances in 1956 and 1957. She was on The Milton Berle Show, The Herb Shriner Show, The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, The Rosemary Clooney Show, and other shows.
Her birth name was Sári (pronounced SHAH-ree) Gábor. She was named after Hungarian stage actress Sári “Zsazsa” Fedak, whose nickname came from her young daughter’s mispronunciation of her first name.