Tyger: ’80s Soap Opera Baby Name

genie francis, tyger, bare essence, 1983, soap operaIn 1983, the top newbie name on the U.S. baby name charts was Mallori, a derivative of Mallory, popularized that year by the hit TV show Family Ties.

Just below Mallori, tied for 2nd place, was the particularly ’80s-looking name Tyger:

  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: 9 baby girls named Tyger
  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: 11 baby girls named Tyger
  • 1983: 29 baby girls named Tyger [debut]
  • 1982: unlisted

So where did Tyger come from?

Patricia “Tyger” Hayes, the main character of two identically-named programs: Bare Essence, a CBS mini-series that aired in October of 1982, and Bare Essence, an NBC soap opera (based on the mini-series) that aired from February to June of 1983.

Tyger Hayes was a “spunky young spitfire” who married into a wealthy family. She had to “fight for her share of the family perfume empire when her husband Chase [was] murdered in the premiere episode” of the soap, which — despite heavy promotion — was ultimately a flop.

bare essence, tyger hayes, 1983, soap opera
“Everyone wants a piece of Tyger Hayes.”
(TV Guide, 1983)

Here’s what a WaPo reviewer said:

NBC blunders in where everyone has already exhaustingly trod with “Bare Essence,” yet another glossy prime-time soap about the conniving and conjugating rich. This one, derived from a two-part CBS movie that aired last fall, comes up lacking on almost all counts. A better title would be “Bare Minimum.”

In the final episode, the identity of Chase’s murderer was finally revealed. The culprit? His amazingly named sister-in-law, Muffin.

What do you think of the name Tyger? (Do you like it more or less than Muffin?)

Sources:

  • Shales, Tom. “Such Gloss! Such Dross! It’s ‘Bare Essence’!” Washington Post 15 Feb. 1983.
  • Bare Essence – TV.com

“Press Your Luck” Baby Names: Thawann, Mayuri, Shequita

thawann, press your luck, 1984
Thawann on Press Your Luck, late 1983

The game show Press Your Luck (“Big bucks! No whammies!”) was on the air from mid-1983 to mid-1986. So far, I’ve found five baby names that were influenced by the show.

Thawann

The name Thawann was a one-hit wonder that popped up in 1984:

  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: 5 baby girls named Thawann [debut]
  • 1983: unlisted

Two-time contestant Thawann was on the show in December of 1983. She won the first game she played (PYL episode 54) but not the second (PYL episode 55). At the start of the first show, she told the host her name was Indian.

Geron

The name Geron more than doubled in usage in 1984:

  • 1986: 6 baby boys named Geron
  • 1985: 5 baby boys named Geron
  • 1984: 12 baby boys named Geron
  • 1983: 5 baby boys named Geron
  • 1982: 5 baby boys named Geron

One-time contestant Geron was on the show in May of 1984 (PYL episode 175). A slightly similar soap opera-inspired name, Mergeron, happened to debut the same year.

LaDina

The name LaDina also more than doubled in usage in 1984:

  • 1986: 6 baby girls named LaDina
  • 1985: 8 baby girls named LaDina
  • 1984: 10 baby girls named LaDina
  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: 5 baby girls named LaDina

Two-time contestant LaDina was on the show in December of 1984 — the same two dates as Thawann, ironically. She won the first game she played, but not the second. (I can’t find the episodes online anywhere.)

Shequita

The name Shequita saw a significant increase in usage in 1985:

  • 1987: 42 baby girls named Shequita
  • 1986: 51 baby girls named Shequita
  • 1985: 128 baby girls named Shequita
  • 1984: 36 baby girls named Shequita
  • 1983: 27 baby girls named Shequita

Two-time contestant Shequita was on the show in May of 1985. She won the first game she played (PYL episode 422) but not the second (PYL episode 423). At the start of the first show, she told the host her name was Spanish and meant “small.”

Mayuri

The name Mayuri debuted in 1986:

  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: 6 baby girls named Mayuri [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted

One-time contestant Mayuri (pronounced mah-yoo-dee) was on the show in January of 1986 (PYL episode 599). At the start of the show she mentioned that she’s from Hawaii, but she didn’t say anything about her name, which I’m assuming is Japanese.

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These were the only unique PYL contestant names I spotted on the U.S. charts, but there were plenty of other PYL contestants with unique names, such as: Adoris, Ayne, Beverlyn, Cookie, Donarae, Feargus, Fredda, Guillermo, Hercules, Hillie, Linnea, Llewellyn, Maari, Maytee, Menard, Menett, Meri Lea, Mordecai, Ondreia, Queta, Ramin, Romey, Sancy, Smittay, Thorne, Tinker, Tissa, and Yogi.

Source: Press Your Luck (fanpage)

More “Star Search” Baby Names

symba smith, star search, spokesmodel, 1991
Symba on Star Search, 1991
When I wrote about the name Tareva a couple of years ago, I said it was the only Star Search-inspired debut name I’d ever come across. Well, I’ve since discovered one more!

Symba

The name Symba was a 2-hit wonder that only appeared in the SSA data in 1991 and 1992:

  • 1993: unlisted
  • 1992: 5 baby girls named Symba
  • 1991: 30 baby girls named Symba [debut]
  • 1990: unlisted

The cause? Not Disney’s animated baby lion, which didn’t come along until a few years later, but Star Search spokesmodel competitor Symba Smith, who appeared on multiple episodes of the show during the 1991 season and ultimately won the 1991 championship (which included $100,000 in prize money).

Two years earlier, in 1989, Mississippi-born Symba had won the “Miss Teen All-American” pageant. (Four years before that, the pageant winner had been Halle Berry.)

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But that’s not all. Here are two more names that saw a boost in usage thanks to Star Search:

Durell

The name Durell spiked in popularity in 1985 thanks to singer Durell Coleman, winner of the 1985 season.

  • 1987: 50 baby boys named Durell
  • 1986: 123 baby boys named Durell
  • 1985: 208 baby boys named Durell
  • 1984: 46 baby boys named Durell

Countess

The name Countess jumped back onto the charts in 1988 thanks to Countess Vaughn, who sang on the show as a 9-year-old.

  • 1990: unlisted
  • 1989: 6 baby girls named Countess
  • 1988: 15 baby girls named Countess
  • 1987: unlisted

Vaughn went on to join the cast of Moesha in 1996 as a teenager.

Two more names that may have been influenced by Star Search — it’s hard to tell — are Garcelle and Jordis. Garcelle Beauvais competed as a spokesmodel in 1986, and Jordis Unga competed as a vocalist in 2004. (Unga’s 2005 appearance on Rock Star: INXS was probably a bigger influence on overall usage.)

Mystery Baby Names: Enchantee & Enchantra

In the mood to do some detective work? Here are a few one-hit wonder baby names with mysterious origins.

First we have the French words enchantée and enchanté, which mean “enchanted.” Both debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1987:

  • 1988: unlisted
  • 1987: 9 baby girls named Enchantee + 6 baby girls named Enchante
  • 1986: unlisted

My first guess was perfume, and indeed both words have been used in perfume names before (e.g., Rêve Enchanté by Van Cleef & Arpels). None of these perfumes were launched circa 1987, though.

The fact that there are two spellings suggest an audio source — perhaps music or a minor TV character (à la Ibe) — but I haven’t found a song or a character that fits the bill yet.

The only other information I have is that the name Chantee saw a spike in usage the same year.

Second we have the fanciful name Enchantra, which debuted in 1978:

  • 1979: unlisted
  • 1978: 8 baby girls named Enchantra
  • 1977: unlisted

Five of those eight babies were born in Louisiana specifically.

The popular sitcom Bewitched (1964-1972) included a character named Enchantra, as did a cartoon called Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch (2013-2014), but neither of these shows was airing new episodes in 1978.

So where did Enchantee/Enchante and Enchantra come from? I wish I knew! What theories do you guys have?

The Star Wars Baby Name You Forgot About: Cindel

Cindel, 1984
Cindel Towani and an Ewok

Various websites have been echoing BabyCenter.com’s claim that Star Wars names like Rey and Kylo are now trendy baby names. The problem? It’s all conjecture. So far, real-world data does not indicate that these names are being bestowed often enough to qualify as “trendy” (à la Nevaeh). We might have to wait a year or two (or ten) for that data, if we ever get it at all.

In the meanwhile, let’s check out the name Cindel — a Star Wars name that everyone seems to have forgotten about.

Cindel debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1984 and saw peak usage in 1986:

  • 1988: 10 baby girls named Cindel
  • 1987: 11 baby girls named Cindel
  • 1986: 25 baby girls named Cindel
  • 1985: 18 baby girls named Cindel
  • 1984: 7 baby girls named Cindel [debut]
  • 1983: unlisted

Variants Cyndel and Cyndal debuted in 1985, and the one-hit wonders Cindal, Cyndil, and Cindell appeared over the next couple of years.

Where did these names come from?

A pair of made-for-TV movies based on stories by George Lucas.

Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure aired on ABC in November of 1984, and the sequel, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, aired on the same channel one year later.

Both films feature a young human character named Cindel Towani (played by actress Aubree Miller).

In the first film, a family of humans is shipwrecked on the forest moon of Endor, home of the Ewoks. Parents Jeremitt and Catrine Towani are promptly kidnapped, and their children — brother Mace and sister Cindel — locate and rescue them, with the help of the Ewoks.

In the second film, a group of marauders kills everyone in the Towani family except for Cindel. She and several friends fight the the marauders, and in doing so obtain the star cruiser energy cell that Cindel needs to finally leave Endor.

In the book A Brief Guide to Star Wars, author Brian J. Robb notes that Mace is “a name from Lucas’s earliest Star Wars drafts later used for Samuel L. Jackson’s Jedi character in the prequels.” I can’t find any clues about how George Lucas came up with Cindel, though.

What are your thoughts on the name Cindel?

Sources: