Where Did “Trampas” Come From?

The baby name Trampas debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1964.

In yesterday’s post on the name Clu, I mentioned The Virginian (1962-1971), television’s first 90-minute Western.

The show was set in Wyoming in the 1890s, and, interestingly, the two main characters — ranch foreman “The Virginian” (played by James Drury) and ranch hand Trampas (played by Doug McClure) — did not use first names.

Despite not being a first name, Trampas ended up in the baby name data in the mid-1960s:

  • 1967: 6 baby boys named Trampas
  • 1966: 5 baby boys named Trampas
  • 1965: 6 baby boys named Trampas
  • 1964: 5 baby boys named Trampas [debut]
  • 1963: unlisted

Spelling variants Trampus and Trampis also appeared in the data around that time.

The show was loosely based on the 1902 novel The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains by Owen Wister (after whom Mount Wister in Grand Teton National Park was named). In the novel, Trampas was the antagonist. His name was based on the Spanish noun trampa, meaning “trap” or “snare.”

Source: The Virginian – TV Guide

The Coming of Clu

The baby name Clu debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1962.

The curious name Clu first surfaced in the U.S. baby name data in 1962:

  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 5 baby boys named Clu [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: unlisted

After that it never came back, making it a one-hit wonder.

Where did it come from?

William Martin “Clu” Gulager, an actor who appeared primarily on television during the early ’60s. Most notably, he co-starred in the NBC series The Tall Man (1960-1962) as a very fictionalized version of Billy the Kid. He could also be seen on shows like Wagon Train and The Virginian around that time.

Clu Gulager was born in Oklahoma in 1928, and was a member of the Cherokee Nation. “Clu” wasn’t a stage name — it was an inherited childhood nickname. He was named directly after his father’s older brother, William Martin “Clu Clu” Gulager, who served in the Oklahoma State Senate from 1922 to 1930.

The nickname “Clu Clu” came from the Cherokee word clu-clu or tlu-tlu, which referred to the purple martin (a type of bird).

What do you think of the baby name Clu?

Sources:

P.S. One of Clu’s distanct relatives was fellow entertainer Will Rogers.

The Baby Name Hud

hud, moive, western, 1960sThe unusual name Hud first appeared in the baby name data in 1964:

  • 1966: unlisted
  • 1965: 6 baby boys named Hud
  • 1964: 9 baby boys named Hud [debut]
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted

Where did it come from?

The Western Hud (1963), which was set on a failing cattle ranch in Texas. The movie starred Paul Newman as unscrupulous Hud Bannon, son of ranch owner Homer Bannon (who, in contrast to his son, was very principled).

Hud’s character, despite being despicable, was embraced by audiences. Newman himself later said, “The kids thought he was terrific. His amorality just went right over their heads; all they saw was this Western, heroic individual.”

According to TV and film historian Christine Becker,

[T]he willingness of 1960s audiences to increasingly accept and even revel in antiheroic characters signaled a hallmark societal change as counterculture sensibilities grew across the country.

Hud was nominated for seven Academy Awards and ended up winning three — two for acting, one for cinematography.

The movie was based on the novel Horseman, Pass By (1961) by Larry McMurtry.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Hud?

Sources:

  • Becker, Christine. “Paul Newman: Superstardom and Anti-Stardom.” New Constellations: Movie Stars of the 1960s, edited by Pamela Robertson Wojcik, Rutgers University Press, 2012, pp. 14-33.
  • Hud – Wikipedia

The Coming of Cully and Case

TV, western, 50s, 60s
Cully and Case, characters from Johnny Ringo

The TV Western Johnny Ringo, based loosely on the life of Old West outlaw John Ringo, only lasted from 1959 to 1960. But that was long enough for two characters from the short-lived series to boost two new baby names onto the charts.

The first name was Case, which popped up in 1959:

  • 1962: 5 baby boys named Case
  • 1961: 6 baby boys named Case
  • 1960: 5 baby boys named Case
  • 1959: 5 baby boys named Case [debut]
  • 1958: unlisted

The corresponding character was Case Thomas, played by actor Terence De Marney. Case was an older man who spoke with an Irish lilt and owned the town general store. He was also the former town drunk.

The second name was Cully, which debuted in 1960:

  • 1962: 12 baby boys named Cully
  • 1961: 5 baby boys named Cully
  • 1960: 31 baby boys named Cully [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

Not only was Cully the top debut name for boys that year, but it’s now tied for 47th biggest debut of all time with Omarian and Yul.

This one was inspired by the Deputy William “Cully” Charles, played by actor Mark Goddard (who later co-starred in Lost in Space).

But here’s the wrinkle: friendly old-timer Cully Wilson from the TV show Lassie (1954-1973) was introduced to TV audiences in 1959. He could have been an influence here as well.

The name Cully, despite its impressive start, never really gained traction among American parents. The name Case, on the other hand, entered the top 1,000 about a decade ago and is currently ranked 601st in the nation.

And while Johnny Ringo didn’t do much for the baby name Ringo, that one eventually showed up in the data thanks to The Beatles.

Source: Johnny Ringo (TV series) – Wikipedia

P.S. Like Trackdown (which gave us Hoby), Johnny Ringo was one of five shows spun off from Zane Grey Theatre. The Ringo episode aired in March, and the series premiered just siven months later, in October. In the episode, Case’s full name is revealed to be “Cason.”

The Height of Alfie in America

alfie, movie, baby name, 1960s

These days, the baby name Alfie sees a lot more usage overseas than it does in America. That said, Alfie (and Alfy) were doing some interesting things on the U.S. baby name charts in the mid-1960s:

Year Alfie usage Alfy usage
1969 34 baby boys unlisted
1968 57 baby boys [ranked 968th] unlisted
1967 62 baby boys [ranked 915th] unlisted
1966 16 baby boys 15 baby boys [debut]
1965 unlisted unlisted
1964 unlisted unlisted

(There was some female usage of Alfie during this time as well, but I didn’t include it in the table.)

Alfie‘s influence is easy enough to pinpoint, so let’s start there. In 1966, the well-received British movie Alfie came out — in March in the UK, and in August in the US. Michael Caine had the starring role as womanizer Alfie, and this proved to be the breakthrough role of his career.

The film — with lots of help from the theme song “Alfie,” which was recorded and released by multiple artists, including Dionne Warwick — pushed the baby name Alfie into the top U.S. 1,000, where it stuck around for just two years.

The explanation behind the sudden appearance of Alfy, a distinct spelling (and also the top one-hit wonder name for boys in 1966), took me a lot longer to figure out.

alfy, baby name, 1966, tv
Alfy

This one came from the short-lived teen soap opera Never Too Young, which aired on September of 1965 to June of 1966. It was set in Malibu and was narrated by the character Alfy, owner of the local beach hangout. He was played by British actor David Watson (whose first American TV appearance was on Rawhide with Clint Eastwood, aka Rowdy Yates).

One thing I find curious is that two fictional British characters named Alfie/Alfy emerged around the same time in American pop culture. The movie was an adaptation of the 1963 play Alfie by Bill Naughton…perhaps the play influenced the writers of the TV show as well?

Which spelling do you like more, Alfie or Alfy?

Source: Never Too Young – Wikipedia