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 Names Jubilee and Marian

jubilee, 1975Within the next few years, the baby name Jubilee will likely enter the girls’ top 1,000:

  • 2015: 227 baby girls named Jubilee [1,118th]
  • 2014: 164 baby girls named Jubilee [1,397th]
  • 2013: 153 baby girls named Jubilee [1,453rd]

But it debuted on the charts only recently, in 1975:

  • 1977: 6 baby girls named Jubilee
  • 1976: 8 baby girls named Jubilee
  • 1975: 9 baby girls named Jubilee [debut]
    • 5 born in California
  • 1974: unlisted

I don’t think the year is a coincidence, as it lines up with one of the Roman Catholic Church’s more recent jubilee years.

Speaking of special Roman Catholic years…the church has also celebrated a total of two Marian years, the first of which was in 1954. That year, the baby name Marian saw a sharp rise in usage:

  • 1956: 1,249 baby girls named Marian [232nd]
  • 1955: 1,497 baby girls named Marian [208th]
  • 1954: 4,014 baby girls named Marian [104th]
  • 1953: 1,366 baby girls named Marian [217th]
  • 1952: 1,246 baby girls named Marian [221st]

The name nearly landed in the top 100 for baby girls that year. (The last time it was in the top 100 was the mid-1930s.)

Which name do you prefer for a baby girl, Jubilee or Marian?

Which name do you prefer?

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The Premiere of Piper

piper laurieDid you know that tens of thousands of baby girls have been named Piper within the last few years?

These young Pipers have 84-year-old actress Piper Laurie to thank for putting their name on the map in the first place.

Piper Laurie’s breakout role was in the 1950 film Louisa (which also starred future president Ronald Reagan). One year later, the name Piper popped up for the very first time in the SSA data:

  • 1956: 38 baby girls named Piper
  • 1955: 31 baby girls named Piper
  • 1954: 36 baby girls named Piper
  • 1953: 40 baby girls named Piper
  • 1952: 35 baby girls named Piper
  • 1951: 11 baby girls named Piper [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted

Piper Laurie wasn’t born “Piper Laurie,” though. She was born Rosetta Jacobs. Here’s how she got her stage name:

Ted told me one evening that he had thought of a good professional name for me and handed me a scrap of yellow paper with “piper laurie” written on it. He’d not capitalized it, so it looked strange. I didn’t care for it because it didn’t seem to be a name. He couldn’t explain how he’d thought of it; he said it just came to him! I had used a variety of professional names by then. In those days it was understood that Rosetta Jacobs was not a name that could be used professionally. Everyone advised us so. Not because of its ethnicity, I never thought of it as such, but because it didn’t sound like Lana or Cary and was hard to remember.

(Ted Radin was Laurie’s first agent. “Lana” and “Cary” refer to Lana Turner and Cary Grant.)

The name “Piper” was given to several dozen babies per year from the ’50s through the ’80s. Usage started to increase in the mid-1990s, but the TV show Charmed (1998-2006) is what really gave it a boost. The name broke into the top 1000 in 1999, reached the top 500 two years later, and has been in the top 100 since 2012.

How high do you think Piper will climb?

Do you think the recent Pixar short Piper (starring an adorable baby sandpiper) will have a discernible influence on usage in 2016?

Source: Laurie, Piper. Learning to Live Out Loud: A Memoir. New York: Crown Archetype, 2011.

Babies Named for Tenley Albright

Tenley Albright, 1956, ItalyThe baby name Tenley first popped up in the SSA’s baby name data in 1953:

  • 1957: 11 baby girls named Tenley
  • 1956: 25 baby girls named Tenley
  • 1955: 11 baby girls named Tenley
  • 1954: 6 baby girls named Tenley
  • 1953: 12 baby girls named Tenley [debut]
  • 1952: unlisted

The inspiration? Tenley Emma Albright (b. 1935), who overcame childhood polio to become a world-class figure skater.

She won a silver medal at the 1952 Winter Olympics, became the first “triple crown” winner (U.S., North American, and World titles) in figure skating in 1953, and won a gold medal at the 1956 Winter Olympics (the first to be televised).

After retiring from figure skating in 1956, she became a surgeon.

Where did she get her name?

“I don’t know exactly where my mother found the name Tenley. When I asked her, she said, “I just liked the sound.”

Her family is full of interesting names: father Hollis, mother Elin, and brother Nile (whose name is “Elin” spelled backwards). Her first husband was named Tudor, and her three daughters are Lilla Rhys, Elin, and Elee.

In 1965, Tenley explained her eldest daughter’s name to Sports Illustrated. She said that Lilla came from the Swedish expression Lilla Vän (“little friend”) — her mother’s childhood nickname — and that Rhys was a family name.

In July of 2014, for her 79th birthday, Tenley hosted a party for her many namesakes at the Boston Skating Club. She promoted the party via the website My Name Is Tenley. Over 60 Tenleys showed up, some coming from as far away as London and Holland. The party even featured a performance by an 11-year-old skater named (what else?) Tenley.

(And what pushed the name Tenley in the top 1,000 for the first time in 2010? A contestant named Tenley on the 14th season of The Bachelor.)

Sources:

  • Albright, Tenley – National Women’s Hall of Fame
  • La Fontaine, Barbara. “There is a doctor on the ice.” Sports Illustrated 8 Feb. 1965.
  • Sharing the Name Tenley
  • Tenley Albright throws a bash for other Tenleys
  • Tenley Albright – Wikipedia
  • Image: © UPI, 1956

    Soviet Leader Influenced U.S. Baby Names in 1959

    Nikita Khrushchev, 1959Nikita Khrushchev was the leader of the Soviet Union for over a decade during the early Cold War (from 1953 to 1964).

    Between the time the U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik in 1957 and sent Yuri Gagarin on the first manned space flight in 1961, Khrushchev became first Soviet head of state to visit the U.S.

    Upon the invitation of president Dwight Eisenhower, Khrushchev and his family flew to Washington, D.C., on September 15, 1959. They visited New York, California, Iowa, and Pennsylvania before flying back to Moscow on the 27th.

    Though Khrushchev famously never made it to Disneyland, he did manage to make an impression upon expectant parents:

    Year U.S. girls named Nikita U.S. boys named Nikita
    1961 39 21
    1960 56 25
    1959 44 19 [debut]
    1958 16 unlisted
    1957 13 unlisted

    The baby name Nikita had appeared on the U.S. charts as a girl name before, but in 1959 it showed up for the very first time as a boy name.*

    These days the usage of Nikita is about equal for males and females — 93 baby girls and 92 baby boys got the name in 2015. But there was a spike in female usage in 1985, thanks to the song “Nikita” by Elton John. (American radio listeners similarly interpreted Luka as a girl name a couple of years later.)

    The name Nikita can be traced back to the Ancient Greek word for “victor,” niketes, which is based on the more familiar word nike, meaning “victory.”

    And eight years after the name Nikita debuted, another Russian arrival, Svetlana Stalina, showed up and added yet another Soviet-inspired baby name to the mix…

    Sources: Nikita Khrushchev – Wikipedia, Timeline: Nikita Khrushchev’s Trip Itinerary
    Image: © TIME

    *To debut on the SSA’s baby name list, a name has to be given to least 5 babies of one gender or the other within a single calendar year.

    One-Hit Wonder Baby Name: Tootie

    The name Tootie appeared on the SSA’s baby name list for the first and only time in 1958:

    • 1959: unlisted
    • 1958: 5 baby girls named Tootie [debut]
    • 1957: unlisted

    What gave the usage of Tootie a boost that year?

    My guess is 13-year-old Dorothea “Tootie” Stevens of Washington, D.C., whose picture ran in the newspapers in August of 1958. (I couldn’t find a non-watermarked copy, unfortunately, so this will have to do.)

    tootie stevens, 1958, with letter from North Pole
    Dorothea “Tootie” Stevens, 1958

    Why was her picture in the papers?

    Because she’d just received “a letter from the top of the world” — the North Pole. The letter came from a family friend by the name of Richard F. Dobbins, who was at that time serving as medical officer aboard the nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus, which had just made the very first undersea transit of the Arctic ice cap.

    What do you think of the name Tootie — does it work on its own, or is it better as a nickname?

    Image: 1958 Press Photo Dorothea “Tootie” Stevens

    Finesse, Another Shampoo Baby Name

    Ad for Stopette and Finesse from Life Magazine, 1953
    © LIFE
    The baby name Finesse debuted on the U.S. baby name charts in 1953, then disappeared again (until the 1980s).

    • 1954: unlisted
    • 1953: 7 baby girls named Finesse [debut]
    • 1952: unlisted

    What inspired the debut?

    Finesse, the “flowing cream shampoo” that was introduced to American consumers in late 1952.

    It was the creation of cosmetic chemist Jules Montenier, whose first product had been the best-selling spray deodorant Stopette, introduced in the late 1940s.

    Advertisements for both Stopette and Finesse ran in major magazines and also on television, which was still relatively new in the early ’50s. The print ad to the right appeared in LIFE magazine in early 1953, and here’s a Finesse commercial that aired as part of the game show What’s My Line? in late 1952. (For most of the 1950s, Montenier was the main sponsor of What’s My Line?)

    Both products were notable because of their innovative polyethylene packaging. Stopette’s squeeze-bottle allowed the product to be sprayed upward (as opposed to being dabbed on manually, like most deodorants of the era) and Finesse’s “accordion” bottle and flip-cap were much safer in the shower than typical glass shampoo bottles.

    In 1956, Montenier sold his brands to Helene Curtis. Stopette was eventually taken off the shelves, but Finesse is still available today. (The brand is currently owned by Lornamead.)

    Curiously, Finesse wasn’t the first shampoo-inspired name on the baby name charts. The earliest was Drene, which debuted in 1946, and next came Shasta, which was given a boost in 1948.

    The word finesse has several definitions, including “refinement or delicacy of workmanship, structure, or texture.” It can be traced back to the Old French word fin, meaning “subtle, delicate.”

    Sources:

    Image: Ad from LIFE 9 Feb. 1953: 32.