The baby name Cepeda surfaced in the U.S. baby name data three times, all during the 1960s:
1969: 9 baby boys named Cepeda
1968: 8 baby boys named Cepeda
1963: 7 baby boys named Cepeda
Where did it come from?
First baseman Orlando Cepeda, who played baseball professionally on six different teams from 1958 to 1974. He’s now part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
His surname first appeared in the data the year after he played in his first World Series. (His team, the Giants, lost to Yogi Berra‘s team, the Yankees.)
It returned to the data the year after his team (now the Cardinals) won the World Series (against the Red Sox) and he was voted National League MVP.
Orlando Cepeda was born and raised in Puerto Rico. His surname can be traced back to either of two locations in Spain that took their names from the Spanish word cepeda, which is based on cepa, meaning “tree stump.”
The less-common variant Lyrissa debuted the same year, and the more-common variants Larissa and Larisa both saw higher around the same time. (Larissa jumped into the top 1,000 for the first time in 1967, in fact.)
What’s the reason?
An actress featured on the popular TV soap opera The Doctors (1963-1982). Laryssa Lauret played character Dr. Karen Werner, who was introduced in 1967 and had a heavy German accent. One writer later described the character as “the resident Teutonic trouble-maker.”
Laryssa Lauret, an American actress of Ukrainian descent, was born Larysa Kukrycka in Warsaw in 1939. She was raised in Austria for a time, then finished her schooling in New York. She shares her name with a martyr, a nymph and various ancient Greek cities. According to this Greek-English Lexicon, the meaning of the name is “citadel.”
The Doctors also influenced the usage of at least two other baby names:
Carolee saw a jump in usage in 1968, the year after actress Carolee Campbell originated the role of like-named character Carolee Simpson, R.N.
Sindee re-entered the data in 1963, the year actress Sindee Ann Richards appeared on the show for 5 sequential episodes as “Jennie.”
But getting back to Laryssa…do you like the name? How do you prefer to spell it?
Source: “Ukrainian Actress to Appear in TV Show.” Ukrainian Weekly 15 Jan. 1978: 4.
When I think of the name Billie Jean, I think of the Michael Jackson song. Next, I think of the tennis player.
But the name Billiejean first appeared in the U.S. baby name data way back in 1962, decades before the song, and years before the tennis player was at the height of her fame.
1962: 5 baby girls named Billie Jean
My guess on this one? Country singer Billie Jean Horton.
Today she’s best remembered for her relationships with various country singers: Faron Young, Hank Williams (married 1952-1953), Johnny Horton (married 1953-1960), and Johnny Cash.
But she was a recording artist in her own right, and her most successful single, “Ocean Of Tears,” peaked at #29 on the country chart in August of 1961. The next year, for one year only, Billiejean popped up in the data.
The name didn’t return until 1973, when tennis player Billie Jean King defeated male player Bobby Riggs in tennis’s most famous “Battle of the Sexes” match. This time it stuck around until the late ’70s.
It emerged a third time with the help of Michael Jackson, whose song “Billie Jean” was the #1 song in the nation for seven weeks straight in March and April of 1983.
What are your thoughts on the name Billie Jean? What’s your strongest association with the name?
Two years after the premiere of the sitcom Bewitched, which featured a character named Samantha, the Samantha-like name Tamantha appeared in the U.S. baby name data:
1968: 16 baby girls named Tamantha
1967: 17 baby girls named Tamantha
1966: 16 baby girls named Tamantha [debut]
Bewitched could be a secondary influence here, but I think the main influence was another TV sitcom: The Tammy Grimes Show. This long-forgotten series was cancelled after just four episodes (all of which aired in September of 1966) but the main character, played by Broadway actress Tammy Grimes, was a young heiress named Tamantha “Tammy” Ward.
Even more impressive, though, is the upsurge in usage of the similar name Tamatha the same year:
1968: 381 baby girls named Tamatha [rank: 381st]
1967: 313 baby girls named Tamatha [rank: 532nd]
1966: 222 baby girls named Tamatha [rank: 646th]
For this one, I think it’s the other way around: Bewitched was the primary influence, and Tammy Grimes was secondary.
Newspaper articles about The Tammy Grimes Show did indeed misspell the character’s name “Tamatha” occasionally, but that’s not enough to catapult a name into the top 1,000. It’s far more likely that this was one of the variant names that emerged in the shadow of Tabatha, which saw a dramatic rise in usage in 1966 thanks to the newborn baby Tabatha on Bewitched.
Do you like the names Tamantha and Tamatha? Do you like them more or less than the traditional names Samantha and Tabitha?