Toma & Baretta: Crime Drama Baby Names

toma, television, baby name, 1970s

The gritty TV police drama Toma, which starred actor Tony Musante as New Jersey police detective David Toma, started airing in 1973.

The year the show premiered, the baby name Toma, which had only ever appeared in the data as a girl name, started seeing usage as a boy name. It even cracked the boys’ top 1,000 briefly.

  • 1975: 6 baby girls / 26 baby boys named Toma
  • 1974: 21 baby girls / 84 baby boys [rank: 884th] named Toma
  • 1973: 21 baby girls / 43 baby boys [debut] named Toma
  • 1972: 9 baby girls / x baby boys named Toma
  • 1971: 5 baby girls / x baby boys named Toma

But usage petered out after Toma was canceled in 1974.

baretta, television, baby name, 1970s

In 1975, a retooled version of Toma called Baretta came out. The new show, which starred Robert Blake as New York City police detective Tony Baretta, was less violent and included more comic relief than the original. (Baretta had a pet cockatoo named Fred, and one of his informants was a man called Rooster.)

In response, the name Baretta debuted in the baby name data, and it remained there for the same number of years the Emmy-winning series was on the air (1975-1978).

  • 1979: unlisted
  • 1978: 8 baby boys named Baretta
  • 1977: 13 baby boys named Baretta
  • 1976: 6 baby girls / 13 baby boys named Baretta
  • 1975: 14 baby girls [debut] / 18 baby boys [debut] named Baretta
  • 1974: unlisted

Notice how the name debuted on both sides of the list. Other dual-debut names from the 1970s include Chaffee, Chudney, Khaalis, Shilo, Sundown, and Tavares.

Which name do you like more, Toma or Baretta?

Which of the two do you prefer?

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The Baby Name Belvin

Belvin W. Maynard, pilot

The Transcontinental Air Race of 1919 began began 100 years ago today, on October 8, 1919. It was the longest airplane race ever attempted (up to that point) and was followed closely by the public via the newspapers.

It even ended up having an influence on baby names: the boy name that saw the steepest rise in usage in 1919, Belvin, was the name of the winning pilot.

  • 1921 – 13 baby boys named Belvin
  • 1920 – 10 baby boys named Belvin
    • 5 in N.C. specifically
  • 1919 – 23 baby boys named Belvin [peak]
    • 6 in N.C. specifically
  • 1918 – 5 baby boys named Belvin
  • 1917 – 5 baby boys named Belvin

Belvin Womble Maynard was born in North Carolina in 1892. He’d gone to school to become a Baptist minister in the early 1910s, but ended up discovering an aptitude for piloting airplanes while stationed in France during WWI.

Not long after returning to the U.S. in the summer of 1919, Maynard entered and won an air race from Long Island, New York, to Toronto, Canada.

Following that success, the “flying parson” (as he’d been dubbed by the press) entered an even more ambitious air race: the Army Air Service’s “Transcontinental Reliability and Endurance Test.” It required that entrants cross the nation not once, but twice.

Belvin Maynard, mechanic, dog, and airplane
Belvin is on the right.

Sixty-three planes entered. Most of them (48) started in New York and headed west, while the rest (15) started in San Francisco and headed east.

Maynard, his mechanic, and his dog (Trixie) took off from New York at the start of the contest. They were the first to reach California, on October 11.

They stayed until the 15th, then headed back toward the East Coast. On the return trip their engine failed, which could have cost them the race…but they cleverly replaced it with the engine of a wrecked plane nearby (that had been participating in the very same race). They made it back to New York on October 18 and were declared the winners.

(As for the other entrants, only about half of them completed the race. In total there were 54 accidents and seven deaths.)

For a time, Belvin Maynard was a national hero. The first commercial airfield in North Carolina, which opened in December of 1919, was named “Maynard Field” in his honor.

But sadly, in mid-1922, several weeks before his 30th birthday, Belvin was killed when his plane crashed during an air show in Vermont.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Belvin?

Sources: Belvin W. Maynard – Early Aviators, Billy Mitchell and the Great Transcontinental Air Race of 1919, Belvin Maynard – NCpedia, International Aerial Derby 1919 – General Aviation News, Transcontinental Reliability and Endurance Test – National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, The Great Transcontinental Air Race – HistoryNet
Images: from the Boston Globe (18 Oct. 1919, page 1) and St. Nicholas magazine (Dec.1919, page 173)

[More aviator-inspired baby names: Vilas, Maitland, Lindbergh.]

The Entrance of Tristram

tris, tristram, coffin, actor
Tris Coffin

The baby name Tristram, which has been around for centuries, didn’t debut in the U.S. baby name data until 1958:

  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 5 baby boys named Tristram
  • 1957: unlisted

This was the year after the name Tris, which had charted as a girl name several times, first appeared on the boys’ list.

The influence behind both names was American actor Tristram “Tris” Coffin, who starred in the TV series 26 Men from late 1957 to mid-1959. In the show he played a fictionalized version of Thomas H. Rynning, captain of the Arizona Rangers during the early 1900s.

His first name is a variant of Tristan, immortalized in the tragic medieval tale of Tristan and Iseult (a.k.a Isolde). We don’t know for sure where the name Tristan comes from, as it’s been “altered from an irrecoverable original as a result of transmission through Old French sources that insisted on associating it with Latin tristis ‘sad,’ a reference to the young knight’s tragic fate.” Tristan may have been based on the Pictish male name Drustan/Drosten, a diminutive form of Drest/Drust/Drost, which was a common name among Pictish rulers.

If the name “Tristram Coffin” sounds weirdly familiar to you, you aren’t nuts — more than a few American men have borne this exact name. All are descendants of Tristram Coffyn, an immigrant from England who was one of the first settlers of Nantucket. In fact, the original Tristram Coffyn (c.1608-1681) was the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather of actor Tris Coffin (1909-1990), born in a mining town in Utah three centuries later. (Another bearer was folklorist Tristram P. Coffin.)

Do you like the name Tristram? Do you like it more or less than Tristan?

Sources:

The One-Hit Wonder Gorizia

The interesting name Gorizia was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in the middle of the 1910s:

  • 1917: unlisted
  • 1916: unlisted
  • 1915: 5 baby girls named Gorizia [debut]
  • 1914: unlisted
  • 1913: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The European town of Gorizia, which, though located in northern Italy, has a Slovenian name (meaning “little hill”). Americans began hearing a lot about Gorizia starting in mid-1915.

After Italy entered World War I in the spring of 1915, the Italian and Austrian-Hungarian armies began engaging in what would become a series of battles that lasted from June of 1915 until November of 1917. Italy’s initial objective was to cross the Isonzo River and take the town of Gorizia, which was then part of the Austrian Empire. During the sixth battle (in August of 1916), Italy finally managed to capture Gorizia.

Though the Italians were routed during the final battle (a.k.a., “the greatest defeat in Italian military history”), in 1919, after the war was over, the Italian government annexed the regions they had previously captured.

What do you think of Gorizia as a baby name?

Source: Gorizia – Wikipedia, Gorizia – Lonely Planet, Battle of Caporetto – Wikipedia

The Source of Shakira

shakira, baby name, movies, 1970s
Shakira in Dec. 1975

These days, when you say the name Shakira, most people think of the Colombian singer (“Hips Don’t Lie”) who became famous in the U.S. in the early 2000s. In fact, the name saw peak usage in 2002 thanks to her.

But the name Shakira first caught the attention of America’s expectant parents decades earlier:

  • 1973: 74 baby girls named Shakira
  • 1972: 20 baby girls named Shakira
  • 1971: 7 baby girls named Shakira
  • 1970: 12 baby girls named Shakira [debut]
  • 1969: unlisted

Why?

Because of Shakira Baksh (later known as Shakira Caine).

She was born and raised in British Guiana to Muslim Indian parents who had relocated from the Kashmir region of British India.

In 1967, she won the Miss Guyana contest and placed third in the Miss World contest in London. Following that, she became a London-based model and actress.

In early 1970, she was mentioned (and pictured) in a short article in the “Youth Notes” section of Parade magazine (the Sunday newspaper magazine distributed in U.S. papers nationwide). Here’s the piece in full:

Ever since Diahann Carroll hit it big in the “Julia” TV series, television producers the world ever have been scouting for other talented black beauties to star in a weekly program.

In England, Shakira Baksh, 22, who came to London from Guyana in 1967 as contender in the Miss World beauty contest, has just been signed in a new and as yet unfilled weekly series.

The objective in starring Shakira is to attract a large share of the non-white TV audience.

And, right on cue, we see her name debut in the data.

Shakira Baksh married Michael Caine, star of Alfie, in early 1973. (He first spotted her in a Maxwell House commercial, believe it or not. Here’s the story of how they met [vid].) They appeared together in the 1975 movie The Man Who Would Be King together (along with Sean Connery, whose eyebrow is in the photo above) and on the cover of People together in 1976.

The name Shakira is Arabic and means “thankful” or “grateful.”

Sources: