The Emergence of Marjoe

marjoe gortner, baby names, 1970s
Marjoe Gortner, preaching, 1971

The rare name Marjoe has appeared in the U.S. baby name just twice, both times in the mid-1970s:

  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: 6 baby boys named Marjoe
  • 1974: 6 baby boys named Marjoe [debut]
  • 1973: unlisted

This name is similar to Uldine in that both are associated with something rather unusual: child preachers.

In the case of Marjoe, the influence was child preacher-turned-actor Marjoe Gortner.

He was born Hugh Marjoe Ross Gortner to parents to Vernon and Marge of California in 1944. According to an early source, the middle name “Marjoe” was based on the name of his mother Marge. (His younger siblings were named Vernoe and Starloe.) Later sources claim “Marjoe” was a combination of Mary and Joseph.

Marjoe Gortner was a precocious child, and his family was full of preachers, so his parents (putting two and two together) decided to turn Marjoe into a child preacher. By the age of four, he was an ordained minister and could deliver about 40 different sermons from memory. His entire childhood was spent evangelizing.

By the early 1970s, Marjoe Gortner was in his late 20s and only in it for the money. In the autobiographical documentary Marjoe (1972), he gave viewers a behind-the-scenes look at “the lucrative business of Pentecostal preaching.” It earned critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in early 1973, but wasn’t screened in many theaters.

Following the success of the documentary, Marjoe pursued an acting career. He was most visible in the mid-1970s, appearing mainly on television. He could be seen on episodes of various TV shows (like Nakia, in 1974) and in several made-for-TV movies (like The Gun and the Pulpit, also in 1974).

What are your thoughts on the name Marjoe?

Sources:

The Arrival of Ayatollah

Ayatollah, TIME magazine
© 1979 Time
The Arabic word Ayatollah (ayatu-llah), which is a title for a Shiite religious leader in Iran, literally means “sign of god.”

Americans started hearing this word more often in the late ’70s, when Iran’s Ruhollah Khomeini, typically called “Ayatollah Khomeini” by the U.S. press, led the Iranian Revolution that overthrew the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (whose wives included Farah and Soraya).

From that point onward, Khomeini became the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The year the revolution ended and Ayatollah Khomeini took control of the country, we see the baby name Ayatollah appear in the U.S. baby name data for the first and only time:

  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: 6 baby boys named Ayatollah
  • 1978: unlisted
  • 1977: unlisted

What are your thoughts on “Ayatollah” as a baby name?

Sources: Ayatollah – Online Etymology Dictionary, Ruhollah Khomeini – Wikipedia

The Baby Name “Season”

lolly madonna, season hubley, baby name, 1970sIn 1973, the name “Season” debuted in the U.S. baby name data rather impressively. (It wasn’t the top debut of the year, but it was in the top 10, just above Sacheen.)

  • 1976: 61 baby girls named Season
  • 1975: 66 baby girls named Season
  • 1974: 68 baby girls named Season
  • 1973: 28 baby girls named Season
  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: unlisted

Word-based baby names like “Season” are notoriously hard to figure out, but I eventually stumbled upon the influence: actress Season Hubley, whose birth name was Susan.

Her first major role was as the title character in the movie Lolly-Madonna XXX, which was released in early 1973. The film depicted two feuding families in rural Tennessee. It was based on the Sue Grafton novel The Lolly-Madonna War (1969).

Usage of the name peaked in 1979 — the year Season played Priscilla Presley in the made-for-TV movie Elvis, for which she is best remembered. She married her Elvis co-star Kurt Russell that year as well.

Season and Kurt had a son in 1980 (before divorcing in 1983) and named him Boston. Their usage of the name gave it a slight boost in ’81, but didn’t kick off the high usage that was to come in the early 2000s.

And now for the question of the day: If you were having a baby girl and had to choose either Susan or Season for the first name, which one would you pick?

P.S. One of Season’s siblings was actor Whip Hubley (birth name: Grant Hubley), who played “Hollywood” in Top Gun. So far, “Whip” has never been in the SSA data.

Black Panther Baby Names: T’Challa, Shuri, Nakia

black panther, baby namesThe much-anticipated movie Black Panther, which comes out today, is already guaranteed to be a success (based on strong advance ticket sales).

Even better? The film features lots of great names, many of which are currently uncommon.

The one I’m really keeping my eye on is T’challa, which was a one-hit wonder in the mid-1970s:

  • 1977: unlisted
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: 8 baby boys were named Tchalla
  • 1974: unlisted
  • 1973: unlisted

(This was around the time the comic book character, who had been introduced in the ’60s, started being featured in his own storylines.)

Other character names from the movie include Shuri, W’Kabi, Nakia and Okoye. And some of the actors have notable names as well (Chadwick, Danai, Letitia).

How much of an impact do you think Black Panther will have on baby names in 2018? Which BP name has the potential to see the greatest increase in usage?

Source: Black Panther (film) – Wikipedia

Where Did the Baby Name Geddy Come From?

geddy lee, rush,
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2004

Last weekend, the Toronto Zoo announced that its three capybara pups would be named Geddy, Alex, and Neil in honor of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart — the three members of the legendary Canadian rock band Rush.

Vocalist Geddy Lee was born Gary Lee in Toronto in 1953 to parents Morris and Manya Weinrib, Holocaust survivors from Poland. Here’s how the name “Gary” morphed into the name “Geddy”:

“Okay, it’s like the same story of Leave it to Beaver. The story goes: my mother is Polish and she has a very thick accent. When I was about twelve years old, I had a friend who, whenever he heard my mother pronounce my name, he thought she was calling me, ‘Geddy.’ He started calling me ‘Geddy,’ and eventually, all of my friends started calling me ‘Geddy,’ and eventually my mother started to call me ‘Geddy,’ for real. And eventually, I changed my name legally to ‘Geddy,’ so that’s the story and that’s my name, Geddy.”

So have any human pups ever been named for Geddy Lee? Yup–so many that we can see them in the data. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, when Rush was a fixture on the Billboard charts, Geddy started appearing on the U.S. baby name charts:

  • 1984: 9 baby boys named Geddy
  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: 14 baby boys named Geddy
  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: 5 baby boys named Geddy [debut]
  • 1978: unlisted

Since then, at least 175 U.S. babies have been named Geddy.

And that’s how a Canadian prog rock band turned “Geddy” — a Polish mispronunciation of Gary — into an American baby name. :)

(Kinda reminds me of the mondegreen Kasara…)

If you were having a son, and you had to name him either Gary or Geddy, which would you choose? Why?

Sources: Toronto’s ‘capybaby’ triplets named after famous rock trio Rush, Geddy Lee: The Reluctant Rockstar (originally in Bass Frontiers Magazine)

P.S. Here’s that Leave it to Beaver story.