3 Names: Seagull, Free, Season

Emmy-winning actress Barbara Hershey (born Barbara Herzstein) was associated with several interesting names early in her career.

First, there was Seagull.

She changed her stage name to “Barbara Seagull” after accidentally killing a seagull while filming a scene for the 1969 movie Last Summer.

“I felt her spirit enter me,” she explained later. “It was the only moral thing to do.”

Then, there was Free.

She was in a relationship with fellow actor David Carradine in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and in 1972 they welcomed a son named Free.

Finally, there was Season.

She and David Carradine broke up in part because of an affair he had with actress Season Hubley, who’d been a guest star on his TV show Kung Fu (and who we talked about yesterday).

Eventually, two of these three names were changed. Barbara returned to the surname Hershey around the time of the break-up, and Free changed his named to Tom at the age of nine “after relentless teasing.”

Source: Barbara Hershey Drops Her Hippie Past and a Name, Seagull, and Her Career Finds Wings, A Kung Fu Comeback?

The Naming of Eustace Tilley

eustace tilley, 1925
Eustace Tilley

The very first issue of New Yorker magazine came out in early 1925. On the cover was a drawing of a top-hatted dandy pering at a butterfly through a monocle. He was created by the magazine’s original art editor, Rea Irvin, and soon became somewhat of a mascot for the magazine.

He also got a name: Eustace Tilley. It was coined by humorist Corey Ford, who said in his memoir:

“Tilley” was the name of a maiden aunt, and I chose “Eustace” because it sounded euphonious.

Other sources suggest that Ford might have been influenced by English male impersonator Vesta Tilley.

Did you know that, for many years, Eustace Tilley was listed in the Manhattan phone book? Harold Ross, co-founder of the magazine, “was delighted when the city authorities eventually sent this imaginary figure a personal-property tax bill.”

The name Eustace has been used as the English form of either of two ancient Greek names: Eustachius or Eustathius. Eustachius means “fruitful” (eu, “good” + stachus, “ear of corn”) and Eustathius means “well-built” (eu, “good” + histemi, “to stand, to set up”).

What are your thoughts on the name Eustace?


Name-Song Tournament: 1950s & 1960s (Winner)

The winner of the championship round is…“Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry!

Berry’s semi-autobiographical “Johnny B. Goode” was released on March 31, 1958 — sixty years ago tomorrow, coincidentally — and was the very first “rock song about the glory of being a rock star.”

Who never ever learned to read or write so well
But he could play the guitar just like a ringin’ a bell.

Here’s Chuck playing the song live:

In 1977, the song was considered culturally significant enough to be included on Voyager spacecraft’s golden phonograph record. A few years later, it was featured in a key scene in the film Back to the Future (1985).

So how did the character in the song come to have the name Johnny B. Goode?

The first name came from pianist and longtime Berry collaborator Johnnie Johnson (“one of the unsung heroes of rock and roll”). The surname came from Chuck Berry’s childhood address (2520 Goode Avenue in St. Louis).

The song “Johnny B. Goode” didn’t have an effect on the baby name Johnny, but then again it didn’t need to — the name was within the top 100 all the way from the early 1930s until the late 1970s.


So thank you to everyone who participated in the name-song tournament this year! If anyone has any fun ideas for a future name-related tournament (cartoon characters, weird place-names, etc.) please let me know.

Sources: Johnnie Johnson – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Why Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’ Is a Rock ‘n’ Roll Classic

Name-Song Tournament: 1950s & 1960s (Championship)

We’re down to the final two songs of the tournament!

  • “Johnny B. Goode” (1958) by Chuck Berry
  • “Peggy Sue” (1957) by Buddy Holly and The Crickets

Both of these early rock classics are strong contenders for the title. They also have a few things in common, like…

  • Both reached the Billboard top 10 in the late ’50s. “Peggy Sue” peaked at #3 and “Johnny B. Goode” peaked at #8.
  • Both were included on Rolling Stone‘s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” “Johnny B. Goode” was ranked 7th and “Peggy Sue” was ranked 197th.
  • Both were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame the very same year (1999).

So which one will you choose?

Which should be crowned the #1 name-song of the late '50s/early '60s?

  • "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry (81%, 13 Votes)
  • "Peggy Sue" by Buddy Holly and The Crickets (19%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 16

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Voting ends tomorrow night. The Champion will be announced on Friday.

Unusual Name: Bessica

Bessica Raiche
Did you know that the first woman in the U.S. to fly a plane solo (intentionally*) was named Bessica?

Dr. Bessica “Bessie” Raiche (1875-1932) flew her homemade airplane on September 16, 1910, in Hempstead Plains, New York. It was her first time flying a plane, and during the short flight she “skimmed over the airfield a few feet off the ground.”

A month later, Aeronautical Society of America presented Bessica with a gold medal inscribed to “the first woman aviator of America.”

Bessica, a medical doctor, flew planes for only a short time before moving to California and resuming her medical practice.

Her mother’s name was Elizabeth, so I’m guessing “Bessica” was created as an elaborated form of Bess, the diminutive of Elizabeth.

Do you like the name Bessica? Would you use it for a modern baby girl?

*I say intentionally because, two weeks earlier in 1910, lady-pilot Blanche Stuart Scott had unintentionally become airborne while taxiing a plane.

Sources: Bessica Raiche – Women in Aviation and Space History – SI, Bessica Raiche (1875–1932) – SP’s Aviation, “Dr. Bessica Raiche, Early Flier, Dead.” New York Times 12 Apr. 1932: 24.