The Arrival of Anja & Anjanette

The baby name Anjanette debuted in the US baby name data in 1963.

The name Anjanette first appeared in the baby name data in 1963, and the very next year it was popular enough to enter the top 1,000:

  • 1966: 90 baby girls named Anjanette
  • 1965: 106 baby girls named Anjanette
  • 1964: 133 baby girls named Anjanette [rank: 904th]
  • 1963: 6 baby girls named Anjanette [debut]
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted

Several variant spellings (Anjeanette, Annjanette, Annjeanette, Anjanetta, and Anjannette) also emerged in 1964. In fact, one ’64 baby who was part of this trend was actress Vivica Anjanetta Fox.

What inspired this one?

Texas-born actress Anjanette Comer (“j” as in “jam”). She began popping up in small roles on TV in 1962. In 1964, she appeared in her first feature film (Quick, Before it Melts) and was nominated for an Emmy for “Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actress” (an episode of Arrest and Trial).

In her earliest TV roles, she was credited as “Anja Comer.” And, toward the end of 1964, popular Hollywood columnist Dick Kleiner mentioned that Anjanette was called “Anja” by friends and family. So it’s not surprising that the first two years we see Anja creep into the data are 1962, followed by 1964:

  • 1966: 20 baby girls named Anja
  • 1965: 41 baby girls named Anja
  • 1964: 11 baby girls named Anja
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 7 baby girls named Anja [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted

Which name do you prefer, Anjanette or Anja?

Anjanette or Anja?

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Sources:

The Baby Name Annazette

jive magazine, cover girl, annazette, 1960s
“Cover Girl: Annazette Williams”
© 1962 Jive

In the early 1960s, the name Annazette appeared for just two years in the national data set:

  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: 13 baby girls named Annazette
  • 1962: 7 baby girls named Annazette [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted

What gave it a boost?

Annazette Williams, the bathing beauty featured on the cover of Jive magazine in February of 1962. It’s likely that images of her were appearing in various publications around this time, and that this accounts for the name’s two-year showing.

She went on to become an actress (under the name Annazette Chase) and appeared both on TV and in the movies during the rest of the ’60s and throughout the ’70s. Her films include The Mack (1973), Truck Turner (1974), and The Greatest (1977) with Muhammad Ali.

One of the Annazettes born in 1962 was Chicago politician Annazette Collins.

Source: McCann, Bob. Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010.

Would You Name Your Baby “Weena”?

weena, 1960, movie, time machine,
Weena from The Time Machine (1960)

The peculiar name Weena popped up in the data a few times in the 1960s and 1970s, starting in ’62:

  • 1966: unlisted
  • 1965: 5 baby girls named Weena
  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 6 baby girls named Weena [debut]
  • 1961: unlisted

Why?

My best guess is the movie The Time Machine, an adaptation of H. G. Wells’ classic sci-fi story The Time Machine (1895). The movie was released mid-1960, so this is a slightly late debut, but the baby name matches up perfectly with the name of the primary female character, Weena (played by Yvette Mimieux).

The protagonist is an English time traveler who jumps hundreds of thousands of years into the future and discovers that humans have split into two species: the childlike Eloi, who live above ground, and the barbaric Morlocks, who live below ground.

name weena, time machine

He befriends a female Eloi, and eventually learns that her name is “Weena.”

Here’s the quote from the book:

Then I tried talk, and found that her name was Weena, which, though I don’t know what it meant, somehow seemed appropriate enough.

And here’s the scene from the film:

TT: “Well, what’s your name?”
W: “Wee-nah.”
TT: “Weena?”
W: (nods)
TT: “How do you spell it?”
W: “…Spell?”
TT: “Spell. Write. Can’t you write?”
W: (blank stare)
TT: (writes WEENA in the dirt)

I don’t think Wells left a record of how he came up with the name Weena for his Eloi character, but he may have been inspired by the name Edwina, which was more common in Victorian England than it is in modern America. (It’s the feminine form of the Old English name Edwin, meaning “wealth” + “friend.”)

Speaking of Edwina…the baby name Edwina happened to see a usage spike in in 1962, and the short form Wina appeared in the data in 1961 and 1962 (only). But I don’t think Weena from Time Machine had much to do with it — I think these spellings point to the character Edwina Brown from the TV show National Velvet (1960-1962), which also boosted the name Velvet to peak usage in 1961.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Weena? How about Edwina?

Sources: The Time Machine – Wikipedia, The Time Machine (1960) – TCM.com

“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 [top 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