“Dark Shadows” Baby Names

aristede, dark shadows, soap opera. 1960s, baby name
Aristede and The Dancing Girl

The rare name Aristede appeared in the U.S. baby name data just twice, debuting in 1969:

  • 1971: unlisted
  • 1970: 5 baby boys named Aristede
  • 1969: 17 baby boys named Aristede
  • 1968: unlisted
  • 1967: unlisted

The source?

The Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-1971). Dark Shadows was never one of the most popular soaps on TV, but it did have a dedicated following, particularly while the “1897 Flashback” storyline was airing from February 1969 to November 1969.

One character who appeared regularly during 1969 was Aristede (played by Michael Stroka). Aristede was a strange young man who was a servant to the warlock Count Andreas Petofi. His curved dagger also had a name: “The Dancing Girl.”

Aristede’s name can be traced back to the ancient Greek word aristos, meaning “best.”

…But we can’t stop with Aristede, because other Dark Shadows characters influenced American baby names as well!

For instance, another character introduced during the “1897 Flashback” was a boy named Jamison Collins. We see a corresponding rise in the usage of the name Jamison in 1969:

  • 1971: 175 baby boys named Jamison [rank: 628th]
  • 1970: 195 baby boys named Jamison [rank: 577th]
  • 1969: 121 baby boys named Jamison [rank: 713th]
  • 1968: 35 baby boys named Jamison
  • 1967: 30 baby boys named Jamison

In fact, actor David Selby, who played werewolf character Quentin Collins (Jamison’s uncle), named his real-life son Jamison Selby (b. 1969) after the character.

Another storyline was the “1795 Flashback” that aired from November 1967 to April 1968. Two primary characters during that period were well-to-do Josette du Pres and servant-girl Angelique (who was also a witch!).

The name Josette saw its highest-ever usage in 1968:

  • 1971: 219 baby girls named Josette [rank: 696th]
  • 1970: 297 baby girls named Josette [rank: 593rd]
  • 1969: 294 baby girls named Josette [rank: 576th]
  • 1968: 502 baby girls named Josette [rank: 420th]
  • 1967: 182 baby girls named Josette [rank: 728th]
  • 1966: 48 baby girls named Josette

And the name Angelique saw a significant increase in usage in 1968 as well:

  • 1971: 820 baby girls named Angelique [rank: 323rd]
  • 1970: 941 baby girls named Angelique [rank: 301st]
  • 1969: 624 baby girls named Angelique [rank: 371st]
  • 1968: 764 baby girls named Angelique [rank: 314th]
  • 1967: 186 baby girls named Angelique [rank: 717th]
  • 1966: 142 baby girls named Angelique [rank: 838th]

Have you ever seen an episode of Dark Shadows? If so, what did you think?

Sources: Aristede – Dark Shadows Wiki, 1897 – Dark Shadows Wiki, Jamison Collins – Dark Shadows Wiki, ‘Dark Shadows’ Remembered: 6 Surprising Facts About TV’s Only Horror Soap Opera

The Emergence of Millette

millette alexander, actress, 1960s, baby nameSo here’s an interesting semi-mystery.

Millette Alexander was an American actress who had the most success on TV soap operas. She started with small parts on The Edge of Night in the ’50s and ’60s, moved on to a nurse character on As the World Turns from 1964 to 1966, and finally played a doctor on The Guiding Light from 1969 to 1983.

It was while she was on As the World Turns playing nurse Sylvia Hill (who suffered from lupus) that the usage of the baby name Millette was nudged upward just enough to debut in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1969: unlisted
  • 1968: 8 baby girls named Millette
  • 1967: 68 baby girls named Millette [peak]
  • 1966: unlisted
  • 1965: 5 baby girls named Millette [debut]
  • 1964: unlisted

So…what the heck happened in 1967?

I’m still trying to figure that out. It was definitely something audio, because a bunch of variant spellings also popped up that year (and only that year, notably):

Name 1966 1967 1968
Millette . 68 8
Malette . 20 [one-hit wonder] .
Milette . 17 [one-hit wonder] .
Melette . 13 [one-hit wonder] .
Mellette . 6 [one-hit wonder] .
Molette . 5 [one-hit wonder] .

Anyone know/remember what shined a spotlight on the name Millette in 1967 specifically? Was it a TV commercial perhaps?

Source: Millette Alexander – IMDb

Shahna, Philana, Kelinda: More Star Trek Baby Names

We’ve already looked at Uhura, and Jeanluc…so are you ready for the next three Star Trek baby names?

Today we’ve got Shahna, Kelinda, and Philana — each of which came from single episodes of the original TV series, which ran from 1966 to 1969.

shahna, star trek, television, 1960s
Shahna (not Lady Gaga)

The baby name Shahna debuted in 1968:

  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: unlisted
  • 1970: unlisted
  • 1969: 9 baby girls named Shahna
  • 1968: 15 baby girls named Shahna [debut]
  • 1967: unlisted

The character Shahna (played by Angelique Pettyjohn) was in the season 2 episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion,” which first aired on January 5, 1968. The setting of the episode was the planet Triskelion, where the rulers — disembodied entities called the “Providers” — forced their captives to fight against one another, gladiator-style, for their own entertainment.

kelinda, star trek, television, 1960s
Kelinda

The baby name Kelinda debuted in 1968:

  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: unlisted
  • 1970: unlisted
  • 1969: unlisted
  • 1968: 7 baby girls named Kelinda [debut]
  • 1967: unlisted

The character Kelinda (played by Barbara Bouchet) was in the season 2 episode “By Any Other Name,” which first aired on February 23, 1968. The episode starts with the U.S.S. Enterprise responding to fake distress call from a small planet on which encounter a strand group of Kelvans, who plan to hijack their ship in order to find planets to colonize.

philana, star trek, television, 1960s
Philana

The baby name Philana debuted in 1969:

  • 1972: 12 baby girls named Philana
  • 1971: 20 baby girls named Philana
  • 1970: 19 baby girls named Philana
  • 1969: 10 baby girls named Philana [debut]
  • 1968: unlisted
  • 1967: unlisted

The character Philana (played by Barbara Babcock) was in the season 3 episode “Plato’s Stepchildren,” which first aired on November 22, 1968. The setting of the episode was the planet Platonius, where they encounter the sadistic leader of a psychokinetic society modeled after ancient Greece. (This also happens to be the infamous “interracial kiss” episode.)

No doubt Philana’s name was based on the ancient Greek word philos, meaning “friend” or “lover.”

So, which of these three single-episode Star Trek names do you like more?

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The (Emotional) Debut of Jentree

The names Jentree and Gentree both debuted in the U.S. baby name data last year. Jentree was given to 14 baby girls, and Gentree to 6 more.

Though the original form of the name, Gentry, has been on the rise recently — and has given rise to spelling variants* — these two particular variants didn’t pop up until a video featuring towheaded 2-year-old Jentree Joles went viral.

A one-minute clip of Jentree getting emotional while watching the movie The Good Dinosaur (2015) — specifically, the part where a young dinosaur became separated from his family — was posted to social media by her aunt in September of 2017.

The video racked up nearly a million views overnight. By the time Jentree and her family were featured on the local news several weeks later (Oct. 6), the video had been viewed 75 million times across several different platforms.

Gentry — both the surname and the vocabulary word — mean the same thing: “nobility of birth or character.” The word can be traced back (via Anglo-Norman French genterie and Old French gentil) to the ancient Roman word gens, which referred to one’s clan or tribe.

The baby name Gentry is particularly popular in a handful of central-ish U.S. states: Oklahoma (where Joles is from), Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Utah. It’s strongly associated with country music via duo Montgomery Gentry and singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry (whose fame in the late ’60s inspired parents to use “Gentry” as a girl name more often).

What are your thoughts on the baby name Gentry? What spelling do you prefer?

*Gentrie, Gentri, Jentry, Jentri, Jentrie.

Sources: This 2-year-old girl’s reaction to a movie is making the internet emotional, Video Of BA Toddler’s Emotional Reaction To Movie Seen Nearly 75M Times, Gentry – Online Etymology Dictionary

Illya All Over Again

The baby name Illya debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1965.

The name Illya double-debuted in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1960s:

 YearBoys Named IllyaGirls Named Illya
196755 [rank 980th]10
196678 [rank 828th]11
196535 [debut]5 [debut]
1964unlistedunlisted
1963unlistedunlisted

Illya was the #1 debut name for boys in 1965. In fact, it ended up becoming one of the top boy-name debuts overall, and it reached the top 1000 twice.

So where did it come from?

The influence wasn’t the movie that gave yesterday’s name Ilya a boost, but the Cold War-era spy show The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which premiered on TV in 1964 and ran until 1968. (U.N.C.L.E. was an acronym for “United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.”)

The main characters were CIA agent Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughn) and KGB agent Illya Nickovetch Kuryakin (played by David McCallum). Illya, a Slavic form of Elijah, was spelled out in the opening credits.

The name Napoleon may have also gotten a slight boost from the show, though it’s hard to tell.

Do you like the name Illya?

(Other dual-gender debuts I’ve posted about include Chaffee, Dasani, Dondi, Rikishi, and Sundown.)