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


Thedy, a Hitchcock-Inspired Baby Name

thedy sue hill, hitchcock

Here’s a baby name with ties to Ray Bradbury, Alfred Hitchcock, and decapitation! What fun.

The name is Thedy, and it appeared for the first and only time on the Social Security Administration’s baby name list in 1964:

  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: 10 baby girls named Thedy [debut]
  • 1963: unlisted

Where did it come from?

It came from Thedy Sue Hill, a character in an early 1964 episode of the The Alfred Hitchcock Hour called “The Jar.” The episode aired on Valentine’s day, actually, which is ironic given the content…

thedy sue hill, charlie, the jarThe story is set in Louisiana, and the protagonist is Thedy Sue’s husband, Charlie, who goes to a carnival and purchases a large jar containing a weird, fleshy mass submersed in murky fluid.

Thedy Sue — a “cunning, self-involved young wife” who has been unfaithful to Charlie — insists that Charlie get rid of the jar. He refuses, as the jar has “brought him notoriety and respect in the community. People come from miles to gather in his parlor and look at the jar and the obscure contents which represent something different to each of them.”

Fed-up Thedy goes back to the carnival to learn what’s really inside the jar. Turns out, not much — a wire frame, paper, doll parts, etc.

But does this stop a humiliated Charlie from continuing to displaying the jar for his neighbors? Nope. But the next time they gather to start at the fleshy mass inside, guess what they see:

thedy sue, hitchcock,

Lovely, right?

Not only did the name Thedy become a one-hit wonder on the charts the same year the episode aired, but I’ve found four people named “Thedy Sue” specifically, including Thedy Sue Hess (b. 1964 in Kentucky) and Thedy Sue Scott (b. 1967 in Illinois).

“The Jar” was based on a short story of the same name by Ray Bradbury. The story was first published in the November 1944 issue of fantasy/horror pulp magazine Weird Tales. In the original story, the character’s name was simply Thedy, no “Sue.”

I’m not sure how Bradbury came up with the name — perhaps it’s based on Theda [THEE-da], Theodora, or Theodosia — but I do know that the story was inspired by his childhood memory of seeing preserved embryos in jars at a carnival sideshow.

The actress who played Thedy Sue Hill also had an interesting name: Collin Wilcox. Her parents, confident they were getting a baby boy, picked out the name Collin ahead of time in honor of an uncle.

What do you think of the baby name Thedy? (Do you like it more or less than Theda?)

Sources: The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Jar – TV.com, ‘The Jar’ – The Cosmicomicon, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – Bradbury Media, An Interview with Collin Wilcox – The Classic TV History Blog

The Model-Inspired Baby Name Donyale

Donyale Luna, VogueThe Danielle-like baby name Donyale debuted on the charts rather impressively in 1966:

  • 1970: 38 baby girls named Donyale
  • 1969: 45 baby girls named Donyale
  • 1968: 35 baby girls named Donyale
  • 1967: 43 baby girls named Donyale
  • 1966: 15 baby girls named Donyale [debut]
  • 1965: unlisted

Where did it come from?

African-American model Donyale Luna, who in 1966 became the first black model to appear on the cover of Vogue (the British version).

A TIME article from 1966 described her as “a new heavenly body who…is unquestionably the hottest model in Europe at the moment.”

She was born with the name Peggy Ann Freeman, but started going by the “Donyale Luna” in high school. (Another popular model from the ’60s who went by a pseudonym was Twiggy.)

One of the reasons Luna is not well-remembered today? She passed away from an accidental drug overdose in 1979. This was two years after she gave birth to a baby girl named Dream.*

What do you think of the name Donyale?

Sources:

*Dream is a baby name to watch, btw, now that the Kardashians have used it…

Babies Named after John F. Kennedy

john-f-kennedy

JFK was elected U.S. president in late 1960, began serving his term in early 1961, and was assassinated in Texas on November 22, 1963 (53 years ago today).

During the first half of the 1960s — especially around the time of the assassination — all three of John Fitzgerald Kennedy‘s names saw increased usage on the U.S. baby name charts. In fact, both Fitzgerald and Kennedy (as a male name) saw their highest-ever usage in 1964:

Year John Fitzgerald Kennedy
1965 71,563 baby boys
rank: 2nd
58 baby boys
rank: 970th
122 baby boys
rank: 674th
1964 82,541 baby boys
rank: 2nd
125 baby boys
rank: 691st
230 baby boys
rank: 516th
1963 78,645 baby boys
rank: 2nd
52 baby boys
(outside top 1,000)
158 baby boys
rank: 624th
1962 78,450 baby boys
rank: 3rd
10 baby boys
(outside top 1,000)
85 baby boys
rank: 828th
1961 79,910 baby boys
rank: 3rd
24 baby boys
(outside top 1,000)
177 baby boys
rank: 592nd
1960 76,124 baby boys
rank: 4th
(fewer than 5)
(outside top 1,000)
117 baby boys
rank: 723rd
1959 76,425 baby boys
rank: 4th
(fewer than 5)
(outside top 1,000)
21 baby boys
(outside top 1,000)

And did you know that the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum maintains a small collection of correspondence regarding babies named after JFK? The collection consists of 34 items (mostly typewritten and handwritten letters/telegrams) delivered from 1960 to 1963 that document eight specific JFK namesakes. Here are most of them:

  • John Kennedy Adjei, born circa 1961 in Kumasi, Ghana
  • John Kennedy Grant, born in July, 1960, in Haverstraw, New York
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jones, born on July 15, 1960, in Massillon, Ohio
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy, born on August 17, 1960, at Minot AFB in North Dakota
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy, born on September 8, 1960, in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania
  • John Kennedy Twyman, born on May 15, 1960, in Cincinnati, Ohio

The name Jacqueline also saw peak usage in the early 1960s. It reached 37th twice during this period: once in 1961, again in 1964. (Did you know that Jacqueline Kennedy pronounced her name “JAK-ə-leen“?)

Space Race Baby Names: Gemini & Agena

Agena as seen by Gemini VIII (3/16/1966)
Agena as seen by Gemini VIII (3/16/1966)

The name Yuri first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in the early ’60s, and the name Aldrin showed up in the late ’60s. But these aren’t the only two Space Race baby names that popped up on the charts during the ’60s.

In 1965 and 1966, the 10 manned missions of NASA’s Project Gemini were flown. The sixth mission, in March of 1966, included the first docking of two spacecraft in orbit — the Gemini VIII with the Agena Target Vehicle (an unmanned spacecraft built specifically for that purpose).

Right on cue, the baby name Gemini debuted in 1965, and Agena followed in 1966:

Year U.S. Babies Named Gemini U.S. Babies Named Agena
1967 x x
1966 x 15 baby girls [debut]
1965 13 baby girls [debut] x
1964 x x

Gemini reappeared in the data later on (e.g., 11 baby girls and 12 baby boys were named Gemini in 2015) but Agena, the top one-hit wonder of 1966, never did.

So how did Project Gemini and the Agena Target Vehicle get their names?

Gemini, which means “twins” in Latin, reflects not only the two-man crews of the Project Gemini missions, but also the fact that Gemini was the second human spaceflight program (after Mercury), and that one of the overall objectives of the project was to achieve a space rendezvous that involves two spacecraft.

Agena was named after the bright star Agena (a.k.a. Beta Centauri; Hadar) in the constellation Centaurus. The name “Agena” is thought to have been coined by Connecticut astronomer Elijah H. Burritt (1794-1838) from the Greek words alpha, “first,” and gena, “knee,” as the star marks the knee of one of the centaur’s front legs.

Which do you like better as a baby name, Gemini or Agena?

Which do you like better as a baby name?

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