The Takeoff of Turi

turi, baby name, news, pilot
Turi Widerøe © 1970 AP

The simple name Turi has appeared just twice so far (as a girl name) in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: 10 baby girls named Turi
  • 1970: 9 baby girls named Turi [debut]
  • 1969: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Norwegian pilot Turi Widerøe, who was billed as the first female pilot for a major commercial airline in the western world. (Women were already piloting planes in communist countries like the USSR and Bulgaria.) She had joined Scandinavian Airlines System in May of 1969 and her assignment at that time was co-piloting a 56-passenger Convair 440 Metropolitan on SAS’s Lapland route above the Arctic Circle.

Her achievement was significant enough that SAS sent her on a whirlwind PR tour of North America in February of 1970. She came for three weeks and visited New York City, Toronto, Chicago, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.

The newspapers described Turi as “a 32-year-old blonde fro Oslo who has the height (just under 6 feet), the cheekbones and the long, shapely legs of a fashion model.” She was the daughter of Viggo Wideroe, co-founder of the regional airline Widerøes Flyveselskap AS, and she’d flown seaplanes for her father’s company for eight years before joining SAS.

She told U.S. interviewers that she wore pants (not a skirt) in the cockpit, that she’d only encountered a single instance of male chauvinism so far, and that she once had to swerve during a landing to avoid a fox on the runway.

During the week she spent in New York, she made several television appearances — mainly on news programs, but also on at least one game show (To Tell the Truth on CBS).

Speaking of TV, in September of 1971 — long after Turi had returned home — a documentary called What Makes Turi Fly? premiered on U.S. television. According to SAS, a total of 200 million people watched the program. This easily accounts for the name’s second appearance in the data.

The name Turi can be traced back to the Old Norse name Þórfríðr, which is made up of elements meaning “thunder” and “beautiful.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Turi?


“Tattletales” Baby Names

scoey, baby name, 1970s, television
Scoey & Claire on Tattletales in Aug. 1974

So far we’ve looked at baby names associated with the game shows What’s My Line?, Card Sharks, and Press Your Luck, so today let’s check out names given a boost by Tattletales, which originally aired from 1974 to 1978.

Tattletales featured three celebrity couples competing against each another for a full week, which is notable. The couples were split up, and either the men or the women were asked a question — often a provocative one — while their partners were offstage. The partners were then brought in via TV camera and asked the same question. Each couple’s objective was to come up with as many matching answers as possible.

As one source put it: “Famous celebrities revealing their intimate secrets on national television made Tattletales a success.” And with all those people watching, it’s not surprising that the show had an influence on baby names…

Dareth Rich and her husband, actor Anthony Newley, were on 10 episodes in 1975, starting in May. The name Dareth debuted in the baby data the same year.

Chevi Colton and her husband, actor Joe Silver, were on 5 episodes in November of 1975. The name Chevi debuted in the data the same year.

Actor Scoey (SKOH-ee) Mitchell and his wife Claire Thomas were on the show dozens of times, including 15 episodes in 1974, starting in June. Mitchell had been appearing elsewhere on TV since the late ’60s, but the name Scoey didn’t debut in the data until 1974. (One source noted that “Scoey” was short for “Roscoe.”)

Actress BernNadette Stanis and her then-husband Tom Fauntleroy were on 5 episodes in November of 1975 (the week before Chevi, in fact). Stanis had been playing the role of Thelma on Good Times since early 1974, but the name Bernnadette didn’t debut in the data until 1976.

I also think there are connections between the appearances of Altovise Davis (wife of singer Sammy Davis Jr.), Nalani Kele (wife of comedian Shecky Greene), Reiko Douglas (wife of comedy writer Jack Douglas), and Tiana Alexandra (wife of screenwriter Stirling Silliphant) and the respective rises in usage of Altovise, Nalani, Reiko, and Tiana in the mid-’70s.

Speaking of rises…

The show was rebooted in the early ’80s, and it looks like one of those ’80s contestants triggered that steep rise in usage of the name Jere in 1982:

  • 1984: 18 baby girls named Jere
  • 1983: 33 baby girls named Jere
  • 1982: 66 baby girls named Jere [peak]
  • 1981: 6 baby girls named Jere
  • 1980: 8 baby girls named Jere

In February of 1982, actress Jerelyn “Jere” Fields appeared on Tattletales with actor/comedian Jimmie Walker (who’d played Thelma’s brother J.J. on Good Times). They weren’t romantically involved — just paired up for the show — but their appearance together sparked rumors that they were dating.

…So which game show should I tackle next? Suggestions welcome!

Source: Baber, David. Television Game Show Hosts. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008.

The One-Hit Wonder Name Loleatta

Loleatta Holloway album
It’s pronounced “Lolita.”

The baby name Loleatta appeared just once in the U.S. data, in the late 1970s:

  • 1979: unlisted
  • 1978: unlisted
  • 1977: 5 baby girls named Loleatta
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Disco singer Loleatta Holloway (whose first name is pronounced “Lolita”). She’d been putting out music since the early ’70s, but her first big hits — “Dreamin’,” “Hit and Run,” and “Ripped Off” — each reached the #3 position on the U.S. dance charts during 1977.

She scored her first #1 dance hit a few years later with “Love Sensation” (1980), which was later memorably sampled on another #1 hit, “Good Vibrations” (1991) by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

What are your thoughts on the name Loleatta?

Source: Loleatta Holloway – Wikipedia

The Emergence of Margaux

margaux, baby name, model, 1970s
© 1975 Time

The name Margaux debuted in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1970s:

  • 1978: 33 baby girls named Margaux
  • 1977: 44 baby girls named Margaux
  • 1976: 35 baby girls named Margaux
  • 1975: 18 baby girls named Margaux [debut]
  • 1974: unlisted

The influence?

Margaux Hemingway, granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, who became famous as a fashion model in the mid-1970s. Notably, she was awarded the first-ever million-dollar modeling contract — from Fabergé. She was the spokesmodel for the company’s popular Babe perfume, launched in 1976.

Margaux was born “Margot,” but later changed the spelling of her name. According to her obituary in the New York Times, “[s]he was said to have changed her name from Margot when she learned that her parents drank Chateau Margaux on the night of her conception.”

Both “Margaux” and “Margot” can be traced back to the name Marguerite, the French form of Margaret (from the Ancient Greek word margarites, meaning “pearl”).

It’s interesting to note that the spelling of the French wine/winery/region has varied over time. One 17th-century map of Château Margaux, for instance, called it “Margaud.” And the wine has been labeled Margou, Margous, Margoo, Margoose, Margoux, etc.

Margaux Hemingway’s younger sister, actress Mariel Hemingway — named after the port town of Mariel in Cuba — starred in the 1979 Woody Allen film Manhattan and was likely the reason the name Mariel saw higher usage in 1980. (News about the Mariel boatlift that year may have been an influence as well, though.)

Which name would you be more likely to use for a baby girl, Margaux or Mariel?