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.

The Debut of Dokken

Beast from the East, album, Dokken, 1980s, rock music
Dokken album “Beast from the East” (Nov. 1988)

The unusual baby name Dokken debuted in 1989 and never came back, making it a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data.

  • 1991: unlisted
  • 1990: unlisted
  • 1989: 5 baby boys named Dokken [debut]
  • 1988: unlisted
  • 1987: unlisted

Where did it come from?

My guess is the ’80s rock band Dokken, which “was a fixture on MTV in the eighties and enjoyed a string of best-selling albums through the decade.”

The band formed in 1979 and became a commercial success in the mid-1980s. The Dokken song “Dream Warriors” was featured in the slasher movie A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987).

In 1989, Dokken scored its first and only Grammy nomination (in the brand new “Best Metal Performance” category) with the live album Beast from the East. But — along with Faith No More, Queensr├┐che, and Soundgarden — they ended up losing to Metallica.

The band was named after vocalist Don Dokken, whose Norwegian surname can be traced back to an Old Norse geographical word meaning “hollow, depression.”

…And now it’s time for the question of the day! The Dokken-like, cologne-inspired baby name Drakkar popped up in the data just a few years before Dokken did. Which late ’80s name do you prefer, Dokken or Drakkar?

Sources:

  • Dokken – Wikipedia
  • Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Phillips, William and Brian Cogan. Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal Music. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2009.

Baby Names from Hill Street Blues

Hill Street Blues, baby names, 1980s, television,

The police drama Hill Street Blues, which aired on NBC from 1981 to 1987, revolutionized the “cop show” TV genre. The series was the first of its kind to feature sequential storylines (vs. stand-alone episodes), an ensemble cast (vs. a single star), overlapping dialogue, hand-held camerawork, and more.

In fact, CNN went ahead and labelled Hill Street Blues “the most influential TV show ever.”

But it wasn’t just influential in the world of television. It also left its mark on American baby names. Hundreds of babies born in the ’80s got a Hill Street Blues-inspired baby name, such as…

Travanti

Actor Daniel J. Travanti, who played main character Capt. Frank Furillo, was nominated for the “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series” Emmy five times in a row (1981 to 1985), winning twice (in ’81 and ’82). Also in 1982, the name Travanti debuted in the baby name data:

  • 1985: 14 baby boys named Travanti
  • 1984: 12 baby boys named Travanti
  • 1983: 8 baby boys named Travanti
  • 1982: 15 baby boys named Travanti [debut]
  • 1981: unlisted
  • 1980: unlisted

Taurean

Actor Taurean Blacque (born Herbert Middleton), who played Det. Neal Washington, was nominated for the “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series” Emmy in 1982. (In fact, all five nominees for the award that year were HSB actors.) The name Taurean debuted in the data for both genders in 1981:

  • 1985: 143 baby boys named Taurean [rank: 745th]
  • 1984: 172 baby boys [rank: 659th] and 10 baby girls named Taurean
  • 1983: 231 baby boys [rank: 554th] and 17 baby girls named Taurean
  • 1982: 210 baby boys [rank: 593rd] and 7 baby girls named Taurean
  • 1981: 91 baby boys [rank: 944th] and 6 baby girls named Taurean [dual-debut]
  • 1980: unlisted

Taurean was the top boy-name debut of 1981, and the variants Taurian, Tauren, and Taureon all popped up in the data as well that year.

(And how did Herbert come up with the stage name “Taurean Blacque”? It’s “a combination of astrology and race with some fancy spelling thrown in.” He wanted a name he “could identify with and one that would stand out on a billboard.”)

Kiel

Actor Kiel Martin played Officer John “J.D.” LaRue. While the show was on the air, the baby name Kiel rose to peak usage among baby boys:

  • 1985: 221 baby boys [rank: 591st] and 5 baby girls named Kiel
  • 1984: 260 baby boys [rank: 534th] and 5 baby girls named Kiel
  • 1983: 277 baby boys [rank: 505th] and 8 baby girls named Kiel
  • 1982: 194 baby boys named Kiel [rank: 623rd]
  • 1981: 68 baby boys named Kiel
  • 1980: 9 baby boys named Kiel

Darylann

Actress Deborah Richter played recurring character Daryl Ann from 1982 to 1987 (but primarily during the last three years). In response, not only did the usage of the name Daryl for baby girls increase, but the name Darylann appeared for the first time:

  • 1989: unlisted
  • 1988: 7 baby girls named Darylann
  • 1987: 5 baby girls named Darylann [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted

Shirret

Actress Van Nessa L. Clarke played minor character Shirret Anders in a pair of back-to-back 1981 episodes. The same year, the baby name Shirret debuted in the data:

  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: 5 baby girls named Shirret [one-hit wonder]
  • 1980: unlisted

Have you ever met someone with a Hill Street Blues-inspired baby name?

Sources: