The Beginning of Broderick

broderick crawford, willie stark, all the kings men
Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark
The first name Roderick has been in use for centuries, but the similar name Broderick is relatively new. It debuted in the U.S. data in 1950:

  • 1953: 29 baby boys named Broderick
  • 1952: 25 baby boys named Broderick
  • 1951: 25 baby boys named Broderick
  • 1950: 30 baby boys named Broderick [debut]
  • 1949: unlisted

The man who inspired this debut? Veteran actor Broderick Crawford. His portrayal of corrupt politician Willie Stark in the drama All the King’s Men, released nationally in early 1950, turned him into a star overnight. He won the Best Actor award at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes that year.

The movie was based on the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. The story was inspired by the rise and fall of notorious Louisiana politician Huey P. Long.

Crawford’s birth name was William Broderick Crawford; Broderick was his mother’s maiden name. There are two possible etymologies for the surname Broderick:

  • The Gaelic surname Ó Bruadair, meaning “descendant of Bruadar.” The origin of Bruadar is either Norse or Irish — sources disagree.
  • The Welsh surname ap Rhydderch, meaning “son of Rhydderch.” The definition of Rhydderch is “reddish brown.”

Do you like the name Broderick? Do you like it more or less than Roderick?

Sources:

The Button-Nosed Baby Name Chata

Letter to Loretta

The name Chata made a modest debut in the U.S. baby name data in 1953:

  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: 5 baby girls named Chata [debut]
  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Very early television. “The Faith of Chata” was an episode from the first season of the anthology TV series Letter to Loretta, later renamed The Loretta Young Show. The episode aired in December of 1953.

The episode, set in a Mexican village, tells the story of a little girl called Chata who is gravely ill with pneumonia. (Chata’s mother Paula is played by Young.) After receiving an overnight vision of her patron saint, Santa Inés, Chata makes a miraculous recovery.

“Chata” is not a name, but an affectionate nickname. It comes from a Spanish term for “pug nose” or “button nose.” John Wayne’s second wife, Mexican actress Esperanza Baur, went by Chata for instance.

The child actress who played Chata was Nancy Gilbert, who several years later played another TV character (Calamity Jane) that also had an influence on baby names.

Sources: Nancy Gilbert – IMDb, Letter to Loretta (1953-1954) – Loretta Young Fan Website

The Baby Name Yul

Yul Brynner, actor
Yul Brynner

The birth name of Russian-born actor Yul Brynner has been transcribed various ways: Yuli, Yuly, Yuliy. He was named after his Swiss-German grandfather Julius (pronounced yoo-lee-us). He started going by “Yul” after immigrating to the U.S. as young man in 1940:

[H]e initially spelled his named “Youl Bryner,” but a New York theatrical agent told him that “Youl” sounded too much like “you-all” and “Bryner” as though he was soaked in brine and pickled. To clarify the pronunciation, the actor respelled his name as Yul Brynner, pronounced “Yool Brinner.”

He didn’t see much acting success during the ’40s. (He had more luck working as a TV director during this time.) But everything changed in the early ’50s after he landed the lead role in the hit Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The King and I” (1951-1954). The Broadway production earned multiple Tony Awards in early 1952, including one for Brynner.

Mainstream audiences were introduced to Yul in 1956, the year he starred in three big films: The King and I (released in June), The Ten Commandments (October), and Anastasia (December).

In 1957, Yul not only won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in (the film version of) The King and I, but his distinctive first name appeared in the U.S. baby name data for the first time:

  • 1961: 29 baby boys named Yul
  • 1960: 32 baby boys named Yul [peak usage]
  • 1959: 24 baby boys named Yul
  • 1958: 24 baby boys named Yul
  • 1957: 31 baby boys named Yul [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

Yul was the second most popular debut name for baby boys that year, just barely losing to Maverick.

Since then, the trajectories of the two names have been very different. Trendy Maverick is now given to thousands of baby boys per year, whereas unusual Yul is given to fewer than a dozen per year. Which name do you prefer, Yul or Maverick?

Sources:

Another Debutante-Inspired Debut: Deyanne

deyanne, wedding, 1950
Deyanne in Woodbury Soap Ad, 1950
Deyanne was a two-hit wonder on the U.S. baby name charts at the start of the 1950s:

  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: 7 baby girls named Deyanne
  • 1950: 13 baby girls named Deyanne
  • 1949: unlisted

Where did the name come from?

A New York debutante named Deyanne O’Neil Farrell.

Deyanne never appeared on the cover of Life (like Brenda Frazier) or on the cover of Jet (like Theonita Cox). But she did appear inside the December 1949 issue of Vogue. She wore a white ball gown designed by Ceil Chapman and the photo was taken by famous fashion photographer Horst P. Horst.

The New York Times announced Deyanne’s engagement the next month, and she married Herbert Miller in St. Patrick’s Cathedral the month after that.

Their wedding photos ended up being part of a marketing campaign for soap made by the Woodbury Soap Company, which regularly featured debutantes and actresses in its advertisements. The image above, for instance, came from a full-page ad in the May 8, 1950, issue of LIFE. I saw other versions of the ad in other magazines (like McCall’s) and in the newspapers (like the Pittsburgh Press) in 1950 and 1951.

The Woodbury ads featuring Deyanne are no doubt what gave the name a boost on the charts during both of those years.

And Deyanne gave one more thing a boost a few years later: Portuguese Water Dogs. In fact, she’s credited with introducing the breed to the United States in 1968. Four decades after that, the Obama family introduced the breed to the White House. (Their Portuguese Water Dogs were named Bo and Sunny.)

But let’s get back to human names now…do you like the name Deyanne? Do you like it more or less than the similar name Diane?

Sources:

The Debut of Shevaun

We revisited the name Shevawn-with-a-W the other day, so today let’s check out another Siobhan variant, Shevaun-with-a-U, which first appeared in the data during the ’50s:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: 5 baby girls named Shevaun [debut]
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted

This one might have a distinct influence as well, because it popped up the same year that Life magazine — which was extremely popular in the middle of the 20th century — suggested that readers pronounce the first name of Irish actress Siobhán McKenna as if it were spelled “Shevaun”:

siobhan, shevaun, baby name, irish, 1956
LIFE suggests “Shevaun”

What do you think?

Source: “Siobhan Shows U.S. Her Joan.” Life. 10 Sept. 1956: 59.