What Launched Lynley?

carol lynley, model, actress
© 1957 LIFE

Precocious teen model-turned-actress Carol Lynley was in the spotlight from the late ’50s onward. In 1957 she was featured on the cover of LIFE magazine, for instance, and in 1958 she played Rapunzel on TV.

But the name-like surname Lynley didn’t pop up in the SSA data until 1962:

  • 1965: 7 baby girls named Lynley
  • 1964: 10 baby girls named Lynley
  • 1963: 12 baby girls named Lynley
  • 1962: 10 baby girls named Lynley [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted

The name Lynlee also debuted that year, and the name Linley starting being used more often for girls.

Carol Lynley is clearly the influence here, but it’s hard to pin down the reason. She appeared in two movies in 1961, and on several TV shows in 1962, but these things aren’t particularly notable — she’d been in movies and on TV before.

My best guess is that the marketing campaign for Return to Peyton Place (1961) drew new attention to her name. Even though the sequel to Peyton Place flopped, Lynley’s starring role ensured that she was featured prominently in advertisements, including TV commercials.

Carol Lynley was born Carole Jones in 1942. (It was the year that Carole Lombard died in a plane crash; lots of parents opted for Carole-with-an-e in 1942.) When Jones started modelling, she chose to go by the name Carolyn Lee. But when she started acting, she altered the name to Carol Lynley because another actress had already claimed “Carolyn Lee.”

Do you like the name Lynley? If you were going to use it, how would you spell it?

Source: “Letters to the Editors.” Life 13 May 1957: 16.


Royal Baby Name: Farah

farah diba, 1959, iran, queen
Farah Diba on the cover of LIFE, 1959

The last Shah of Iran had three wives — first Fawzia, second Soraya, and finally Farah: Farah Diba, who was a 21-year-old commoner when she married the king in Tehran at the very end of 1959.

The Arabic name Farah, which means “joy,” appeared for the first time in the SSA’s baby name data the next year:

  • 1964: 11 baby girls named Farah
  • 1963: 13 baby girls named Farah
  • 1962: 14 baby girls named Farah
  • 1961: 12 baby girls named Farah
  • 1960: 19 baby girls named Farah [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted

The couple went on to have four children: Reza (the male heir the Shah had been waiting for), Farahnaz, Ali-Reza, and Leila.

Reza never got a chance to rule Iran, though, because the royal family was forced to flee during the Iranian Revolution at the end of the 1970s. By the time the Shah died of cancer in 1980, the new leader of the country was Ayatollah Khomeini.

The similar name Farrah first appeared in the data in the late ’60s. It would go on to see a dramatic spike in usage in 1976-1977 thanks to Farrah Fawcett (whose name at birth was actually Ferrah).

Another similar name, Fara, predates both Farah and Farrah on the charts. Fara has been in the U.S. data since the 1910s. (Other unexpected Sara- and Clara-clones from that era include Flara, Gara, Para, and Nara.)

Do you like the name Farah? Which spelling do you prefer?

P.S. The male names Reza and Alireza started appearing in the U.S. data in the ’60s and ’70s, respectively.

Babies Named Renault?

Renault Dauphine, commercial, car, retro
Renault Dauphine
We all know that Renault is a French automaker. But did you know that it’s also an American baby name?

In 1959, the name Renault (ruh-noh) appeared for the first time in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: 6 baby boys named Renault
  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 8 baby boys named Renault [debut]
  • 1958: unlisted

The name Dauphine (doh-feen), which was last on the charts since the 1920s, also saw a slight boost in usage around this time:

  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 6 baby girls named Dauphine
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 8 baby girls named Dauphine
  • 1959: 10 baby girls named Dauphine
  • 1958: unlisted

The cause? The Renault Dauphine, a “frisky, thrifty family car” introduced to U.S. consumers in 1957.

The car was widely praised (at first) and sales rose impressively during the late ’50s, peaking in 1959.

I even found a baby girl born in Texas in 1959 with the name Renault Dauphine Sanders. None of her four sisters — Netha, Andra, Elizabeth, and Tina — were named for cars.

Here’s a TV commercial for the Renault Dauphine. Notice how the American voice-over actor pronounces company name ruh-nawlt.

But the rise of the Renault Dauphine was cut short when problems began to emerge. The Dauphine was quick to rust, for instance, and it took more than 30 seconds to reach 60 mph. Sales started falling in 1960 and never recovered. Renault stopped producing new Dauphines altogether in the late ’60s.

Another name that may have been influenced by Renault? Ondine:

  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: 5 baby girls named Ondine [debut]
  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

The Renault Ondine was a variant of the Renault Dauphine produced from 1960 to 1962. It came to America in 1961, and while it was typically called the “Deluxe” here, the name “Ondine” was mentioned here and there (like in Car Life).

So what do all these names mean? Ondine is the French form of Undine, Dauphine refers to the wife of the Dauphin (the heir apparent to the French throne), and Renault is a variant of the French surname Renaud, which has the same Germanic root as the English name Reynold.

(Ironically, a name very similar to Dauphine, Delphine, saw peak usage in 1958 thanks to a TV character. It’s possible that the character name helped the car name seem even trendier right around that time.)

Sources:

The Baby Name Cherish

the association, 1966, albumLast week we talked about the baby name Windy, which saw a boost in usage in the ’60s thanks to the song “Windy” by The Association.

But I shouldn’t forget to mention that an earlier song by the same band also influenced American baby names.

“Cherish,” their very first hit song, ranked #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks straight in the fall of 1966. The same year, the baby name Cherish debuted in the SSA’s data:

  • 1969: 44 baby girls named Cherish
  • 1968: 28 baby girls named Cherish
  • 1967: 24 baby girls named Cherish
  • 1966: 11 baby girls named Cherish [debut]
  • 1965: unlisted

Usage of the name peaked in 2007, when 461 baby girls were named Cherish [rank: 641st].

Do you like the name Cherish? Do you like it more or less than Windy?

(And, do you like “The Association” as a band name? Do you like it more or less than the equally ambiguous “The Charts“?)

A “Twilight Zone” Baby Name?

Prime Mover, Twilight Zone, 1961, ace, jimbo
Ace and Jimbo
Yesterday’s post involved Alfred Hitchcock, so today let’s cross over into the Twilight Zone.

The Twilight Zone is now a cult classic, but was only moderately popular during its original run (1959-1964).

That said, it did win a couple of Emmys in the early ’60s. It also inspired viewers to start Twilight Zone fan clubs across the nation. Best of all, it boosted at least one baby name onto the U.S. charts.

The name? Jimbo:

  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: 6 baby boys named Jimbo
  • 1963: 7 baby boys named Jimbo
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: 10 baby boys named Jimbo [debut]
  • 1960: unlisted

In March of 1961, Twilight Zone audiences were introduced to nice-guy character Jimbo Cobb in the episode “The Prime Mover.”

Jimbo Cobb was telekinetic. Ace Larsen, the owner of the diner where Jimbo worked, discovered this one day and convinced Jimbo to go to Las Vegas with him.

The story unfolds as you might expect: They win for a while with the help of Jimbo’s ability to move objects (like roulette balls) with his mind. But Jimbo is wiser than he seems, and in the end doesn’t allow Ace to keep his winnings.

Instead of losing his mind (like some gamblers are wont to do), Ace finds the humor in all of it immediately. Easy come. Easy go. Something snaps inside of him, and he appreciates the life he has more than the life he thought he wanted.

Jimbo was played by actor Buddy Ebsen, who also appeared in dozens of other early TV shows, including Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, Rawhide, and Gunslinger. He’s best remembered today for playing Jed Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies.

Sources: Exploring The Twilight Zone #57: The Prime Mover, The Prime Mover – Wikipedia