The Namesakes of Huey P. Long

Huey on Time, Apr. 1935

Yesterday’s name, Broderick, was popularized by a movie based on the life of populist politician Huey P(ierce) Long, nicknamed “The Kingfish,” who served as Governor of Louisiana (1928-1932), U.S. Senator (1932-1935), and was gearing up for a presidential run in 1935. At that time…

Long’s Senate office was flooded with thousands of letters daily, prompting him to hire 32 typists, who worked around the clock to respond to the fan mail. As the nation’s third most photographed man (after FDR and celebrity aviator Charles Lindbergh), Long was recognized from coast to coast simply as “Huey.”

He never ran for president, though, because he was assassinated in September of 1935.

So how did Long’s his political rise (and sudden death) affect the usage of the baby name Huey?

In April of 1929, newspapers reported that, since the gubernatorial election the previous May, “Governor Long has presented a [silver] cup to every baby in the state which is made his namesake. He says there are now are 90 “Huey P’s” and he believes the total will run well over 200 before his term of office expires.”

According to the SSA’s baby name data, the national usage of Huey spiked twice: the year Long was elected governor, and the year he was killed. Notice how much of the usage happened in Huey’s home state of Louisiana:

Year U.S. boys named Huey Louisiana boys named Huey
1937 214 boys [rank: 378th] 95 boys (44% of U.S. usage) [rank: 50th]
1936 353 boys [288th] 153 boys (43%) [30th]
1935 494 boys [237th] 202 boys (41%) [14th]
1934 187 boys [403rd] 86 boys (46%) [48th]
1933 154 boys [447th] 66 boys (43%) [67th]
1932 144 boys [480th] 76 boys (53%) [61st]
1931 162 boys [443rd] 98 boys (60%) [39th]
1930 174 boys [447th] 119 boys (68%) [37th]
1929 194 boys [424th] 146 boys (75%) [26th]
1928 215 boys [411th] 159 boys (74%) [22nd]
1927 114 boys [579th] 62 boys (54%) [75th]
1926 62 boys [840th] 22 boys (35%) [179th]

Huey P. Long was named after his father. He had nine siblings: brothers Julius, George and Earl (who also served as governor of Louisiana) and sisters Charlotte, Clara, Helen, Lucille, and Olive. Speedy Long was a cousin.

Sources:

Image: Senator Huey P. Long © 1935 Time

Name Change: Joyce to Antonia

king vidor, actor
King Vidor
Movie director King W. Vidor [pronounced vee-dor] and his second wife, Eleanor Boardman, welcomed their first child together in November of 1927. They had a name picked out for a boy — “Boardman Vidor” — but didn’t have anything ready for a girl.

So, of course, it was a girl. :)

According to news reports, the baby remained nameless until at least April, when she was named Joyce.

But while the couple was abroad promoting Vidor’s latest film, The Crowd, she was renamed Antonia. They announced the change in early July, on the day they returned to the U.S. aboard the SS De Grasse.

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Sources:

Why Was Marilyn Monroe Named “Norma Jeane” at Birth?

We already know how Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson, came up with her stage name — “Marilyn” was from Marilyn Miller, and “Monroe” was her mother’s maiden name.

But why was she named “Norma Jeane” as a baby?

In 1922, her mother Gladys, originally from California, moved to Kentucky to try to get her first two children (Robert and Berniece) back from her former husband’s family.

While there, Gladys worked as a housekeeper in the home of Harry and Lena Cohen of Louisville. She also helped care for the couple’s young daughters, Dorothy and Norma Jean.

norma jean cohen, namesake
The Cohen family of KY, 1930 U.S. Census

She eventually returned to California, alone.

In 1926, Gladys had her third and final baby. “She named the child after the little girl she had looked after whilst in Kentucky and, for the sake of respectability, also gave the surname of her former husband, hence naming her Norma Jeane Mortenson (she added an ‘e’ to Norma Jean and changed Mortensen to Mortenson on the birth certificate).”

Which first name do you like more, Marilyn or Norma? Vote below, then leave a comment with your reason…

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Source: Morgan, Michelle. Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed. London: Little, Brown Book Group, 2012.

Baby Named for Judge Who Granted Divorce

In 1928, the Aberdeen Journal mentioned a London woman who had been granted a separation from her husband by London Magistrate Basil B. Watson.

She was apparently very pleased about the decision, because when she later gave birth to a baby boy, she named him “Basil Watson Ratcliffe.”

(I checked the records — a Basil Watson Ratcliffe was indeed born in London in 1927.)

Source: What’s in a Name? Choosing a Name for a Baby

Where Did Lido “Lee” Iacocca Get His Name?

Lido "Lee" IacoccaBusinessman Lido Anthony “Lee” Iacocca was born in Pennsylvania in 1924 to Italian immigrants Nicola “Nick” Iacocca and Antonietta Perrotta. Lee Iacocca went on to become the president of Ford Motor Company from 1970 to 1978 and the CEO of Chrysler Corporation from 1978 to 1992.

Where did the first name Lido come from?

Before his marriage, Nick and one of Antoinette’s brothers had visited Venice, Italy, enjoying the grand and beautiful Lido Beach. To Nick, the spot was perfect. So was his new son, hence the name Lido.

And what drove Lido Iacocca to shorten his already-short first name to “Lee”?

Early on in his career…

“As part of my job, I had to make a lot of long-distance calls. In those days, there was no direct dialing, so that you always had to go through operators. They’d ask for my name, and I’d say “Iacocca.” Of course, they had no idea how to spell it, so that was always a struggle to get that right. Then they’d ask for my first name and when I said “Lido,” they’d break out laughing. Finally I said to myself: “Who needs it?” and I started calling myself Lee.”

Which name do you prefer, Lido or Lee?

Sources:

  • Collins, David R. Lee Iacocca: Chrysler’s Good Fortune. Ada, OK: Garrett Educational Corp, 1992.
  • Iacocca, Lee and William Novak. “Iacocca: An Autobiography”
    Reader’s Digest Jul. 1985: 79.