The Baby Name Colt

wayde preston, colt 45, television, 1950s
Christopher Colt

The baby name Colt has a distinctive popularity graph: usage begins in the 1950s, shoots up in the early 1980s, shoots up again in the early 2000s, and shoots up again in the late 2010s.

The initial usage was triggered by the TV Western Colt .45 (1957-1960), which was loosely based upon a 1950 film of the same name. The main character, Christopher Colt, was an undercover government agent posing as a pistol salesman. (The Colt .45 was a type of pistol that was particularly popular in the Old West.)

The name Colt debuted in the SSA’s data the year the show premiered:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 8 baby boys named Colt
  • 1958: 10 baby boys named Colt
  • 1957: 7 baby boys named Colt [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

The show may have given the name Christopher a boost as well, though it’s hard to tell, as the name was already on the rise in the late ’50s.

But the name that got the biggest boost from the show wasn’t Colt or Christopher — it was Wayde, from actor Wayde Preston, who played Christopher Colt. The name saw peak usage in 1959:

  • 1960: 135 baby boys named Wayde [rank: 674th]
  • 1959: 252 baby boys named Wayde [rank: 493rd]
  • 1958: 153 baby boys named Wayde [rank: 622nd]
  • 1957: 33 baby boys named Wayde
  • 1956: 15 baby boys named Wayde

But getting back to Colt…the name remained relatively rare until another show, The Fall Guy (1981-1986), introduced TV audiences to the character Colt Seavers, played by Lee Majors. This character wasn’t a gunslinger but a stuntman (who moonlighted as a bounty hunter).

The name jumped straight into the top 500 in 1982:

  • 1983: 351 baby boys named Colt [rank: 444th]
  • 1982: 344 baby boys named Colt [rank: 459th]
  • 1981: 20 baby boys named Colt
  • 1980: 9 baby boys named Colt

The next rise in usage was kicked off by football quarterback Daniel “Colt” McCoy, who had a successful college career at the University of Texas (2005-2009) before going pro in 2010.

  • 2009: 820 baby boys named Colt [rank: 369th]
    • 162 (19.8%) born in Texas
  • 2008: 500 baby boys named Colt [rank: 532nd]
    • 85 (17.0%) born in Texas
  • 2007: 428 baby boys named Colt [rank: 593rd]
    • 67 (15.7%) born in Texas
  • 2006: 212 baby boys named Colt [rank: 910th]
    • 38 (17.9%) born in Texas
  • 2005: 186 baby boys named Colt [rank: 943rd]
    • 21 (11.3%) born in Texas
  •  2004: 143 baby boys named Colt [outside top 1,000]
    • 13 (9.1%) born in Texas

And the most recent rise in usage seems to be attributable to the Netflix series The Ranch, which premiered in mid-2016 and stars Ashton Kutcher as a character named Colt Reagan Bennett.

So, going back to the beginning now….where did the name of the Colt .45 pistol come from?

The pistol was made by Colt’s Manufacturing Company of Connecticut. The company was named for founder Samuel Colt (1814-1862), whose English surname originated as “a metonymic occupational name for someone who looked after asses and horses, or a nickname for an obstinate or frisky person.”

What do you think of the baby name Colt? (Do you like it as a standalone name, or do you prefer it as a nickname for Colton?)

Source: Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

The Entrance of Nattiel

In the late 1980s, the unusual name Nattiel was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1990: unlisted
  • 1989: unlisted
  • 1988: 10 baby boys named Nattiel
  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: unlisted

(In fact, Nattiel is one of the top one-hit wonders overall.)

Where did the name come from?

It was the surname of Florida-born professional football player Ricky Nattiel [pronounced nah-TEEL].

A wide receiver, Nattiel was chosen by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 1987 NFL Draft. He ended up playing for the Broncos for six seasons (1987 to 1992).

I’m not certain about the origin of his surname, but my best guess is that it was based on the Biblical name Nathaniel.

Do you like Nattiel as a baby name?

Source: Ricky Nattiel – Wikipedia

The Beginning of Billie Jean

billie jean horton, country music, baby names, 1960s
Advertisement in Billboard (July 1961)

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.

  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 5 baby girls named Billie Jean
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: unlisted

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.

billie jean, michael jackson, song, 1980s, baby name,

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?

Source: Billie Jean Horton – Wikipedia

The Baby Name Keena

keena, brave eagle, 1956

The name Keena has had a dueling dual-gender history.

Keena (and Kina) started surfacing in the girls’ data in the early 1950s, perhaps influenced by the usage of Tina, which was creeping upward at that time. (Tina wouldn’t become massively trendy until the late ’50s and early ’60s.)

Then came the single-season TV series Brave Eagle (1955-1956), which was TV’s first attempt at a western told from a Native American point of view. A main character on the show was Brave Eagle’s adopted son Keena, played by Hopi/Karuk child actor Anthony “Tony” Numkena (stage name Keena Numkena). This character boosted the name Keena into the boys’ data for the first time:

  • 1958: 41 girls and 11 boys named Keena
  • 1957: 34 girls and 5 boys named Keena
  • 1956: 21 girls and 11 boys named Keena
  • 1955: 7 girls named Keena
  • 1954: 6 girls named Keena

A decade and a half later, female Olympic swimmer Keena Rothhammer (born in 1957) won both a gold and a bronze medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. She also twice set a new world record in the women’s 800-meter freestyle (on successive days).

The same year, usage of the name spiked for girls:

  • 1974: 64 baby girls named Keena
  • 1973: 99 baby girls named Keena
  • 1972: 152 baby girls named Keena [peak usage for girls]
  • 1971: 29 baby girls named Keena
  • 1970: 34 baby girls named Keena

Here’s what Keena told Sports Illustrated about her name: “My mother says it’s Hawaiian. She says she heard it on the radio.”

Then, more than a decade after that, male linebacker Keena Turner (born in 1958), who played for the San Francisco 49ers from 1980 to 1990, had some particularly good seasons in the mid-1980s

And in 1985, usage of the name spiked for boys (as well as girls):

  • 1987: 47 girls and 9 boys named Keena
  • 1986: 57 girls and 15 boys named Keena
  • 1985: 105 girls and 46 boys named Keena [peak usage for boys]
  • 1984: 66 girls and 12 boys named Keena
  • 1983: 53 girls named Keena

Now it’s your turn: Do you like the name Keena? Do you prefer it as a boy name or as a girl name? Why?

Source: “Mark of Excellence.” Sports Illustrated. 14 Aug. 1972: 16-21.

“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
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
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.

Scoey
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.”)

Bernnadette
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.