The One-Hit Wonder Baby Name Kitza

kitza kazacos, 1959, baby name
Kitza Kazacos
© 1959 Billboard
Like Gogi, the name Kitza debuted in the U.S. baby name data in the late ’50s but never returned.

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 5 baby girls named Kitza [debut]
  • 1958: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Greek singer Kitza Kazacos. During the ’50s she became famous in England, and at the end of the decade she decided to try her luck with American audiences.

As the mononymous “Kitza” she appeared (along with Paul Anka) on the Perry Como Show in February of 1959. The press coverage leading up to the appearance was a bit weird, focusing on how she maintained her figure with the help of a hypnotist (“who hypnotizes her into disliking foods that make her gain weight”).

Ultimately, Kitza didn’t have much luck getting attention in the U.S. Here’s what she said later the same year:

“Since the Perry Como show, I have made just one other appearance and that was on daytime show ‘The Jimmy Dean Show.’ They say they want fresh new talent here, but when fresh, new talent comes to them, they say, “The public doesn’t know you.””

I’m not sure what became of Kitza Kazacos, but I can tell you that her first name is a variant of Kitsa, which is a nickname for Kyriaki. Kyriaki is both the Greek word for Sunday and the feminine form of the name Kyriakos, which means “of the lord.” (The Latin equivalent of Kyriakos is Dominicus, the root names like of Dominic and Dominique.)

What do you think of the name Kitza?

Source: Torre, Marie. “New Face Gets Second Look.” Lawrence Journal-World 15 Jun. 1959: 4.


The Baby Name Thayle

thalye, name, 1936, short story
Thayle & Malvern
The baby name Thayle appeared in the SSA data for one year only:

  • 1937: unlisted
  • 1936: 6 baby girls named Thayle [debut]
  • 1935: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The source is the long-forgotten short story “Company for the Milkman” by Florence Leighton Pfalzgraf. It was published in various newspapers in 1936.

The protagonist is 24-year-old working girl Thayle. She wants to settle down, but first has to choose between two suitors: Nigel “Nig” Duffield (who’s poor, but perfect for her) and Malvern “Mal” Kay (who’s wealthy, but a bad match).

“I don’t mean to offend you, Nig. But — but I’m tired of my tuppenny job. I hate the real estate office, that cold iron typewriter. I don’t want to work after I’m married.”

She nearly marries Mal, but of course there’s a twist (involving a milkman) and she ends up with Nig.

The only thought-provoking thing about this story? The nickname “Nig.” I suspect the author wanted it pronounced “Nige” (long I, soft G–as in Nigel). So why did she leave off the E so that it rhymes with “pig” (or Twig)? Weird omission.

Source: Pfalzgraf, Florence Leighton. “Company for the Milkman.” Reading Eagle 3 May 1936: 14.

The Baby Name Tavist: Inspired by Antihistamine?

Tavist-D, medicine, allergyTravis has been on the baby name charts since the very beginning. It was particularly popular from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, ranking in the top 50 for 18 years straight.

During that period of Travis-trendiness, other forms/spellings of the name emerged, including Traviss, Tavis, Travus, Travas, Traves, Trevis, and Tevis.

Given this context, it’s not surprising that when a product called “Tavist-D” started to be marketed heavily in late 1992, the baby name Tavist debuted on the U.S. baby name charts the very next year:

  • 1995: unlisted
  • 1994: 10 baby boys named Tavist
  • 1993: 16 baby boys named Tavist [debut]
  • 1992: unlisted

Tavist-D, an antihistamine-decongestant, had been available in the U.S. by prescription since 1983. In early 1992, manufacturer Sandoz got permission from the FDA to sell Tavist-D over the counter. The drug became available to the public a few months later. It was introduced with a $40 million ad campaign. (For perspective, the company took in over $100 million in sales the first year.)

Though Tavist-D commercials continued to air until late 1990s, the name Tavist dropped off the baby name list after just two years. Why? Maybe because the name Travis was falling out of fashion by then. Or maybe because the brand name had become too well known. Ironically, the drug isn’t even around anymore; it was pulled from pharmacy shelves in 2000.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Tavist?

Sources:

(Another baby name inspired by medicine: Laxative Bromo Quinine.)

The Rise of Risë (ree-sah)

rise stevens, carmen, opera, the met
Risë Stevens as Carmen

This one took me years to figure out.

The curious name Rise debuted in the Social Security Administration data in 1942:

  • 1944: 13 baby girls named Rise
  • 1943: 7 baby girls named Rise
  • 1942: 15 baby girls named Rise [debut]
  • 1941: unlisted

“Rise”? Huh.

Rise was the 4th-most-popular debut name that year, and not far behind (in 7th place) was the somewhat similar Risa:

  • 1944: 12 baby girls named Risa
  • 1943: 5 baby girls named Risa
  • 1942: 12 baby girls named Risa [debut]
  • 1941: unlisted

Later in the ’40s, names like Reesa and Rissa popped up. And in the ’50s, names like Riesa and Reisa appeared. So there was definitely a minor Ris– trend going on in the mid-20th century, with “Rise” being the unlikely top variant.

But because “Rise” is also a vocabulary word, I had no luck pinning down the source. (It’s ridiculously hard to research word-names on the internet. I’m still stumped on Memory and Treasure.) Eventually I gave up.

Years later, as I was grabbing an image for the Finesse post, the answer landed right in front of me in the form of a cigarette ad:

Risë Stevens, Camels cigarettes, advertisement, 1953
Risë Stevens in a Camels ad © LIFE 1953

The full-page advertisement for Camels from a 1953 issue of LIFE magazine featured a “lovely star of the Metropolitan Opera” named Risë Stevens. I knew right away that this glamorous-looking lady — and her umlaut! — was the solution to the “Rise” puzzle.

Mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens was born Risë Steenberg in New York City in 1913. Her first name is pronounced “REE-sah” or “REE-suh.” Here’s how she explained it:

“It’s Norwegian; it was my grandmother’s name and my great-grandmother’s name. In school I was called everything but Rise; I was called Rose; I was called Rise {rhyming with “eyes”}; I was called Risé {rhyming with “play”}; even Teresa. In school, it was terrible; I would have arguments with the teachers. I would say, ‘I should know how to pronounce my own name.'”

One source suggested that Risë is related to the Latin word risus, meaning “laughter.”

So what was an opera singer doing in an national advertising campaign? Shouldn’t those be reserved for Hollywood stars? Well, turns out she was a Hollywood star — at least for time. She sang professionally from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s, but in the early 1940s she gave acting a shot.

Her first film, released in late 1941, was the musical The Chocolate Soldier. Notice how her umlaut was left off the movie poster:

chocolate soldier, musical, film, 1941, rise stevens

This film accounts for the 1942 debut of both “Rise” and the phonetic respelling Risa.

Risë Stevens ultimately left Hollywood and returned to the opera — and she managed to bring at least a portion of her movie audience with her:

“I probably would never have reached that vast public had I not done films,” she said. “At least, I won a lot of people over to opera.”

This explains why Risë Stevens, often called the greatest Carmen of her generation, was being featured in advertisements and on television talk shows more than a decade later. And why her unique name therefore saw peak usage in the 1950s.

If you want to know more about Risë (and hear her sing!) here’s a Risë Stevens Tribute video created by the National Endowment for the Arts.

P.S. Risë Stevens had a granddaughter named Marisa — a combination of the names of her grandmothers, Maria and Risë. Risë Stevens’ son told her that he went with the -a ending instead of the ending because he was “not going to put her through what you’ve been through.”

Sources:

“Jeopardy!” Baby Names: Alancia and Brannon

jeopardy, game show

Last week, Becca commented with some interesting Jeopardy! contestant names (e.g., Hobie, Dorcas) and mentioned J! Archive, which lists tens of thousands of Jeopardy! contestants going back to 1984, when the show premiered.

I skimmed through all the contestants from 1984 to 2015 (as we don’t have baby name data for 2016 yet) and spotted hundreds of unusual names. And it looks like at least two of them got a boost thanks to the show:

Alancia

The name Alancia was a one-hit wonder that popped up in 2000:

  • 2001: unlisted
  • 2000: 9 baby girls named Alancia [debut]
  • 1999: unlisted

One-time player Alancia Wynn, a family practice physician from Virginia, was on Jeopardy! in October of 1999.

Brannon

The name Brannon saw an increase in usage in 1998:

  • 1999: 118 baby boys named Brannon
  • 1998: 158 baby boys named Brannon
  • 1997: 113 baby boys named Brannon

One-time player Brannon Denning, a graduate student from Connecticut, was on Jeopardy! in September of 1998. (Looks like Brannon Denning is now a law professor at Samford University.)

Alaric & Ezgi …?

These two names may have gotten a slight boost as well, though it’s hard to tell.

  • Alaric, in 2005. One-time player Alaric Smith was on the show in October of 2005.
  • Ezgi, in 2015. One-time player Ezgi Ustundag was on the show in October of 2015.

Ezgi is a female name that means “melody” in Turkish.

Anjali (false positive)

“Kids Week” contestant Anjali Tripathi was on the show in September of 1999. The same year, the baby name Anjali more than doubled in usage:

  • 2001: 222 baby girls named Anjali
  • 2000: 230 baby girls named Anjali
  • 1999: 202 baby girls named Anjali
  • 1998: 93 baby girls named Anjali
  • 1997: 80 baby girls named Anjali

But this was a suspiciously steep rise. And it was accompanied by the debut of an alternate spelling (Anjalie). And usage didn’t drop back to normal levels the next year, as one would expect. These facts pointed me to something more high-profile than a Jeopardy! contestant.

Turns out the very successful Hindi coming-of-age romantic comedy Kuch Kuch Hota Hai had been released in 1998. The movie featured not one but two main characters named Anjali.

More names!

Here are the rest of the names that caught my eye, sorted by year:

  • 2015: Chandreyi, Dava-Leigh, Desta, Ezgi, Kynan, Mags, Praggya, Rook, Tiombi
  • 2014: Ben-Hur, Dinu, FeiFei, Gudrun, Ilissa, Kenesha, LaWanda, Leszek, Mariusz, Myfanwy, Osei, Shloka, Sirena
  • 2013: Arne, Berek, Diva, Kelton, Kinu, Nilai, Nishanth, Ramsin, Rhea, Salvo, Shuli, Sonrisa, Tahne, Twyla, Waymond, Xan, Yellowlees
  • 2012: Anshika, Benton, Bing, Deniz, Injee, Jessamine, Jia-Rui, Mithun, Pian, Shaanti,
    Vamsi, Vinayak
  • 2011: Bhibha, Boomie, Cosi, Gabor, Gitta, Idrees, Karawan, LuEllen, Milind, Raphie
  • 2010: Huat, Kemi, Marianthe, Raghuveer, Shaama, Surabhi
  • 2009: Ariella, Claxton, Cyn, Daphna, Drusha, Hayes, Henok, Jove, Lysette, Nirav, Ranjan, Seyi, Shyra, Tui (TOO-ee), Wright
  • 2008: Anurag, Babatope, Delano, Elza, Gilah, Kew, Murtaza, Naren, Srinivas, Vibin, Zia
  • 2007: Arlynda, Bethlehem, Clé, Haritha, Khoa, Kai-Ning, Kizzle, Lateefah, Lenzy, Marvene, Mehrun, Ssezi, Tigger, Toho, Tope
  • 2006: Dianisbeth, Iddoshe, Karmie, Lizard, Nemanja, Nissan, Oz, Ozgun, Papa, Pinki, Raena, Reda, Sioux, Tawney
  • 2005: Alaric, Corinth, Jayanth, Kem, Kingslea, LeeAundra, Ruchi, Ruvani, Vanamali
  • 2004: Denele, Kermin, M’Liss, Nithya
  • 2003: Alicen, Amasa, Eok, Freya, Nulty, Snowden, Vane
  • 2002: Anagha, Dileep, Gadi, Hikma, Jara, Kirik, Kunle, Manoj, Muzy (MYOO-zee), Omid, Quyen, Rafi, Seveen, Shasa, Tana, Umiko
  • 2001: Aki, Babu, Gosia, Marek, Mittie, Neha, Ulhas, Vinita
  • 2000: Akshai, Arrington, Celiane, Cinnamon, Iyesatu, Jeeks, Manx, Meri-Jane, Mitali, Sabin, Tarun
  • 1999: Ajuan, Alancia, Anjali, Chacko, Davine, Happy, Mihee, Seale, Wellington, Yancy, Yoni
  • 1998: Ardys, Brannon, Creswell, Kemp, Melizza, Sinan
  • 1998: Boze, Jolyn, Rokshana
  • 1997: Akiva, Atish, Breck, Brick, Davia, Girish, Mita, Murat, Pooja, Sahir, Tanis, Vartan, Zinie
  • 1996: Myretta, Rima, Ulf, Vandana
  • 1995: Albina
  • 1994: Graydon
  • 1993: Bronwyn, Ferris, Leif
  • 1991: India, Kareem
  • 1990: Ardwight, Avrom, Murdock, Peji
  • 1989: Darbi, Ouida
  • 1988: Blaze, Cigus, Doak, Scooter
  • 1987: JoFrannye
  • 1986: Chub, Zanete

Which of the above names do you like best?

P.S. Thanks again, Becca!

“Second Chance” Baby Name: Davenia

Davenia, Second Chance, 1977
Davenia on Second Chance, 1977

This was a lucky find. While researching Press Your Luck contestant names for yesterday’s post, I found out that there was a PYL precursor called Second Chance that aired for a few months during 1977 (March to July).

Only a handful of those 95 Second Chance episodes still exist, and there are currently only two on YouTube. But one of those two happens to feature a contestant with the unique name Davenia.

And is Davenia in the SSA data? Yup:

  • 1978: unlisted
  • 1977: 5 baby girls named Davenia [debut]
  • 1976: unlisted

Not surprisingly, it debuted the very same year Second Chance was on the air. :)

What do you think of the name Davenia?

Sources: Press Your Luck Info Page, Second Chance: Bob/Davenia/Marion (Aired May 31, 1977) [vid]

“Press Your Luck” Baby Names: Thawann, Mayuri, Shequita

thawann, press your luck, 1984
Thawann on Press Your Luck, late 1983

The game show Press Your Luck (“Big bucks! No whammies!”) was on the air from mid-1983 to mid-1986. So far, I’ve found five baby names that were influenced by the show.

Thawann

The name Thawann was a one-hit wonder that popped up in 1984:

  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: 5 baby girls named Thawann [debut]
  • 1983: unlisted

Two-time contestant Thawann was on the show in December of 1983. She won the first game she played (PYL episode 54) but not the second (PYL episode 55). At the start of the first show, she told the host her name was Indian.

Geron

The name Geron more than doubled in usage in 1984:

  • 1986: 6 baby boys named Geron
  • 1985: 5 baby boys named Geron
  • 1984: 12 baby boys named Geron
  • 1983: 5 baby boys named Geron
  • 1982: 5 baby boys named Geron

One-time contestant Geron was on the show in May of 1984 (PYL episode 175). A slightly similar soap opera-inspired name, Mergeron, happened to debut the same year.

LaDina

The name LaDina also more than doubled in usage in 1984:

  • 1986: 6 baby girls named LaDina
  • 1985: 8 baby girls named LaDina
  • 1984: 10 baby girls named LaDina
  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: 5 baby girls named LaDina

Two-time contestant LaDina was on the show in December of 1984 — the same two dates as Thawann, ironically. She won the first game she played, but not the second. (I can’t find the episodes online anywhere.)

Shequita

The name Shequita saw a significant increase in usage in 1985:

  • 1987: 42 baby girls named Shequita
  • 1986: 51 baby girls named Shequita
  • 1985: 128 baby girls named Shequita
  • 1984: 36 baby girls named Shequita
  • 1983: 27 baby girls named Shequita

Two-time contestant Shequita was on the show in May of 1985. She won the first game she played (PYL episode 422) but not the second (PYL episode 423). At the start of the first show, she told the host her name was Spanish and meant “small.”

Mayuri

The name Mayuri debuted in 1986:

  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: 6 baby girls named Mayuri [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted

One-time contestant Mayuri (pronounced mah-yoo-dee) was on the show in January of 1986 (PYL episode 599). At the start of the show she mentioned that she’s from Hawaii, but she didn’t say anything about her name, which I’m assuming is Japanese.

*

These were the only unique PYL contestant names I spotted on the U.S. charts, but there were plenty of other PYL contestants with unique names, such as: Adoris, Ayne, Beverlyn, Cookie, Donarae, Feargus, Fredda, Guillermo, Hercules, Hillie, Linnea, Llewellyn, Maari, Maytee, Menard, Menett, Meri Lea, Mordecai, Ondreia, Queta, Ramin, Romey, Sancy, Smittay, Thorne, Tinker, Tissa, and Yogi.

Source: Press Your Luck (fanpage)