The One-Hit Wonder Teenamarie

teena marie, album, starchildSpeaking of Tinamarie…the very similar name Teenamarie first appeared in the U.S. baby name data exactly three decades later, in 1985:

  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: 7 baby girls named Tennamarie [debut]
  • 1984: unlisted

That was the year the song “Lovergirl” [vid] by R&B singer Teena Marie (born Mary Christine Brockert) peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #9 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart.

While the name Teenamarie was a one-hit wonder on the baby name charts, Teena Marie herself was not a one-hit wonder on the music charts; she released dozens of successful singles over the course of her career.

The name Teena also saw a spike in usage in 1985.

(Teena saw its highest usage in the mid-1950s, perhaps thanks to both the comic strip Teena and the fashion label Teena Paige. In both of those cases, the name Teena was based on the relatively new term “teenager.” The usage was also no doubt influenced by the rise of Tina.)

Which spelling do you like better, Tinamarie or Teenamarie?

The Baby Name Shalamar

shalamar, music

Last week we talked about the name Shalimar, so this week let’s look at the similar name Shalamar, which saw its highest usage in 1980:

  • 1982: 15 baby girls and 12 baby boys named Shalamar
  • 1981: 17 baby girls and 10 baby boys named Shalamar
  • 1980: 26 baby girls and 20 baby boys named Shalamar [debut for boys]
  • 1979: unlisted
  • 1978: unlisted
  • 1977: 5 baby girls named Shalamar
  • 1976: unlisted

American vocal/dance trio Shalamar — which included future solo star Jody Watley — started regularly churning out hits in 1979.

Over the next few years the group earned two Grammy nominations, but didn’t win the award either time (they lost once to Rufus & Chaka Khan).

Also, interestingly, Shalamar had a name before it had any members. It was put together by Dick Griffey, the booking agent for TV’s Soul Train.

Which spelling do you prefer, Shalimar or Shalamar?

Source: Shalamar – AllMusic

Sorsha & Elora: Baby Names from “Willow”

The baby name Sorsha debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1989.

The movie Willow was released in May of 1988 — exactly 30 years ago this month. It didn’t do a thing for the baby name Willow, which hadn’t become trendy yet, but it did affect a couple of other character names: Sorsha and Elora.

Sorsha

The character Sorsha (played by Joanne Whalley) was the red-haired princess/soldier who was the daughter of the evil queen. She was also the love interest of Madmartigan (played by Val Kilmer). She started out as a bad guy, but changed sides mid-movie and was a good guy by the end.

The baby name Sorsha debuted in the U.S. data right on cue in 1989:

Year Usage of Sorsha Usage of Sorcha
1992 5 baby girls 5 baby girls
1991 5 baby girls 5 baby girls
1990 . 6 baby girls
1989 5 baby girls [debut] 5 baby girls [debut]
1988 . .
1987 . .

Curiously, parents opted for the spelling Sorcha as often as they opted for Sorsha. Why?

I couldn’t find any typos in contemporary sources — newspapers all used the more logical “Sorsha” — so my best guess is the baby name books.

Expectant parents wanting to know the definition of Sorsha would have instead encountered the Irish name Sorcha in those books. They would have learned the meaning (“bright”), but probably not the pronunciation, which is unfortunate because Sorcha isn’t pronounced SOR-sha. It’s more like SUR-kha. (Irish names that sound more like Sorsha include Saoirse, SEER-sha, or even the male name Seoirse, SHOR-sha.)

Elora

The character Elora Danan was the adorable read-haired baby at the center of the action. Her birthmark identified her as the one destined to depose Queen Bavmorda, so of course the queen wanted her found and destroyed. It was Willow’s job to deliver Elora Danan safely to those who would raise her.

The baby was given a good amount of screen time. Film critic Roger Ebert even complained about it: “One of the crucial problems…is that we see so much of this baby.”

As a result, the baby name Elora re-emerged in the data in 1988 and saw a distinct jump in usage in 1989/1990. The rise of Alora was even greater.

Year Usage of Elora Usage of Alora
1992 34 baby girls 72 baby girls
1991 63 baby girls 84 baby girls
1990 91 baby girls 108 baby girls
1989 87 baby girls 103 baby girls
1988 30 baby girls 11 baby girls
1987 . .

Many similar-sounding names (like Ellora) also got a boost, and several (like Alaura and Allora) appeared for the first time in the data in the late ’80s. And I spotted even more spelling variants when I did records searches.

Speaking of the records…they revealed (unsurprisingly?) that many of the babies with these various Elora-like first names also had Danan-like middles. “Danan” was the most common spelling, but another I saw repeatedly was “Dannon” — possibly influenced by the yogurt brand being advertised on TV during those years.

…What are your thoughts on the baby names Sorsha and Elora? Which one would you be more likely to use for a baby girl?

Sources: Willow (film) – Wikipedia, “Willow” Review by Roger Ebert

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.

*

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)