Don the Beachcomber

The tiki craze of the mid-20th century that I mentioned in yesterday’s post was single-handedly kicked off by Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt, a.k.a., Donn Beach.

Ernest was a bootlegger as a young man in the 1920s. After Prohibition ended in 1933, he opened a bar/restaurant in Hollywood called Don’s Beachcomber. The establishment became very successful, introducing not just a slew of tiki drinks (e.g., the zombie) but also several food items (e.g., the pu pu platter). So Ernest started referring to himself as “Don the Beachcomber.” Eventually, he not only altered the name of the bar (“Don the Beachcomber”), but also legally renamed himself (“Donn Beach“).

Sources: The Bizarre Rise and Fall of the Tiki Bar, Donn Beach – Wikipedia

The Introduction of Tiki

tiki, 1960s, baby name, television
The schooner Tiki

In the 1950s and ’60s, Tiki culture — including Tiki bars — were all the rage in the United States. Even Disneyland got in on the action, introducing the Enchanted Tiki Room in 1963.

So it’s not terribly surprising the that the baby name Tiki emerged in the SSA data in the early 1960s:

  • 1964: 12 baby girls named Tiki
  • 1963: 9 baby girls named Tiki
  • 1962: 5 baby girls named Tiki
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 15 baby girls named Tiki [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted

But that rather impressive 1960 debut — and subsequent drop-off a year later– suggests that a specific event kicked off the initial usage of Tiki.

I’ve got two theories on this one.

First is the Hawaiian Eye episode “Fatal Cruise,” which aired in February of 1960 and featured actress Linda Lawson as a character named Tiki.

Second is the show Adventures in Paradise, in which the main character, Capt. Adam Troy, travels around the South Pacific on a schooner called the Tiki.

(Adventures in Paradise, which kicked off the names Sondi and Tiare, was created by writer James Michener, who was behind the debuts of Sayonara and Kerith.)

The first theory makes the most sense, because Hawaiian Eye associated the name with a (very pretty) human. But I don’t think we can discount the second theory, because Adventures in Paradise consistently presented “Tiki” as a name…even if it was just the name of a boat.

So where does the word tiki come from? It was used in the Marquesas and in New Zealand to refer to any carving with human features. (The equivalent word in Hawaiian is ki’i and in Tahitian is ti’i.) Originally, though, Tiki was a specific mythological figure: “the Polynesian Adam, the creator of man…sort of half-man and half-god.”

What are your thoughts on Tiki as a baby name?

Sources: Fatal Cruise, Hawaiian Eye – IMDb, Adventures in Paradise – Fifties Web, Tiki Hangover: Unearthing the False Idols of America’s South Seas Fantasy

Our First Taste of Taffy…

taffy, baby name, comic
Taffy Tucker

…in the baby name data!

Taffy isn’t just a type of candy — it’s also a name, and it debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1943:

  • 1947: 12 baby girls named Taffy
  • 1946: 6 baby girls named Taffy
  • 1945: unlisted
  • 1944: 5 baby girls named Taffy
  • 1943: 6 baby girls named Taffy [debut]
  • 1942: unlisted
  • 1941: unlisted

Why?

Because of Taffy Tucker, a new character introduced in the Terry and the Pirates comic strip during 1942.

Titular character Terry Lee joined the military in 1942, and there he met new people, including Taffy Tucker, an Army nurse, and Flip Corkin, an Army flight instructor (who was also Taffy’s boyfriend).

Taffy Tucker was a “spunky, dedicated nurse, hardworking and tireless, cheerful and caring and always feminine.”

At one point in the storyline, Taffy was kidnapped by a Japanese agent. She was beaten up and left for dead deep in the interior of China. Thankfully, she was eventually rescued by Terry and Flip.

It took cartoonist Milton Caniff about three months to create the character:

[He] spent several days just worrying about a name for Taffy. Since he visualized her as a pert, snub-nosed girl from Georgia, he wanted a name with a typically Old South sound. He finally settled on Guinevere Marianne Tucker, nicknamed Taffy because of her candy-colored hair. She had to be short, because she was scheduled to fall in love with Flip Corkin, who is short, and she had to be blond [sic] for contrast with Flip, who is dark.

Caniff had modeled Taffy after a photo of real-life WWII military nurse Bernice Taylor of Kansas.

What do you think of Taffy as a baby name?

Sources:

P.S. The name Taffy got a slight boost around 1949 thanks to the film The Doctor and the Girl, in which the young Dr. Corday has a love interest named Evelyn “Taffy” Heldon who operates a taffy machine in a candy store.

P.P.S. Other Terry and the Pirates-inspired baby names include Normandie, Merrily, and Raven.

Popular Baby Names in Brazil, 2019

brazil, rio,

According to Transparência do Registro Civil (part of ARPEN Brasil), the most popular baby names in the country in 2019 were Enzo Gabriel and Maria Eduarda.

Here are Brazil’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2019:

Girl Names

  1. Maria Eduarda, 12,063 baby girls
  2. Maria Clara, 10,751
  3. Maria Cecilia, 9,570
  4. Maria Julia, 9,448
  5. Maria Luiza, 9,132
  6. Ana Clara, 8,452
  7. Maria Alice, 8,388
  8. Ana Julia, 8,232
  9. Helena, 7,765
  10. Alice, 6,660

Boy Names

  1. Enzo Gabriel, 16,672 baby boys
  2. João Miguel, 15,082
  3. Pedro Henrique, 11,103
  4. Miguel, 9,436
  5. Arthur, 8,525
  6. João Pedro, 8,372
  7. Heitor, 6,829
  8. João Lucas, 6,557
  9. Davi Lucas, 6,543
  10. Davi Lucca, 6,010

These rankings are based on provisional data covering 2019 up to December 19th. (By that date, 4,472,331 babies had been born in Brazil, which is currently the 6th-most-populated country in the world.)

I’ve never posted the Brazilian rankings before, but other sources says that the top two names (Maria Eduarda and Enzo Gabriel) were the same in 2018.

Sources: Enzo Gabriel, João Miguel e Maria Eduarda são os nomes mais registrados no Brasil em 2019, See the most registered name in Brazil, List of countries and dependencies by population – Wikipedia

Name Quotes 86: Sena, Fennis, LeBron

Time for the monthly quote-post!

From the speech “How Everything Turns Away” by children’s book author Lois Lowry (b. 1937):

My first photograph…or the first photograph of me…was taken, by my father, when I was 36 hours old. My name was different then. They had named me Sena, for my Norwegian grandmother, and that was my name until she was notified; then she sent a telegram insisting that they give me an American name, and so I was renamed Lois Ann for my father’s two sisters.

From an article about baby-naming in Armenia:

Armenia does not have a censorship for names, while its neighbor Azerbaijan has. There are three categories of names in Azerbaijan: “allowed,” “undesirable,” and “prohibited.” No comment is necessary for the first group. The second group includes funny and bizarre names. The third group refers to Armenian names.

On the names of spirit guides, from the book Journey of Souls (1994) by LBL hypnotherapist Dr. Michael Newton:

The personal names my clients attach to their guides range from ordinary, whimsical, or quaint-sounding words, to the bizarre. Frequently, these names can be traced back to a specific past life a teacher spent with a student. Some clients are unable to verbalize their guide’s name because the sound cannot be duplicated, even when they see them clearly while under hypnosis. I tell these people it is much more important that they understand the purpose of why certain guides are assigned to them, rather than possessing their names. A subject may simply use a general designation for their guide such as: director, advisor, instructor, or just “my friend.”

From a 1987 Sports Illustrated interview with basketball player Fennis Dembo:

With apologies to World B. Free, Shaquille O’Neal and, yes, even God Shammgod, when it comes to staking a claim to basketball’s alltime name, Fennis Dembo enjoys Jordanlike distance from the pretenders. “I’m always a bit stunned that people still remember me,” says Fennis, whose mother, Clarissa, selected his name, along with that of his twin sister, Fenise, as a declaration that after 11 children, her childbearing days were finis. “I tried to set up an E-mail account, but two other guys–basketball fans, I guess–were already using my name in their address.”

From a 2018 interview with basketball player LeBron James [vid]:

I still regret giving my 14-year-old my name […] When I was younger, obviously, I didn’t have a dad. So, my whole thing was, like, whenever I have a kid, not only is he gonna be a junior, but I’m gonna do everything that this man didn’t do. They’re gonna experience things that I didn’t experience, and the only thing I can do is give them the blueprint, and it’s up to them to take their own course.

(LeBron, Jr., is nicknamed “Bronny” — no doubt to differentiate son from father, but perhaps also to take some of the pressure off. Here’s a post about how LeBron James has affected baby names over the years.)

From a 2016 Maxim interview with movie director Ron Howard:

Q: Is it true that your kids’ middle names come from the locations where they were conceived?

A: David Letterman got that out of me, and my kids will never let me forget it. My daughter, Bryce [Dallas Howard], was conceived in Dallas, and our twins [Jocelyn Carlyle Howard and Paige Carlyle Howard] were conceived while we were doing a publicity tour at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. For the last one [Reed Cross Howard], we were on Lower Cross Road, so we decided to go with Cross. “Volvo” wouldn’t be such a good middle name.

From a review of the memoir The Kennedy Chronicles by former MTV veejay Kennedy (full name: Lisa Kennedy Montgomery):

According to Kennedy, her secret dalliance with the then-married lead singer and frontman of the Goo Goo Dolls led to one of the group’s most well-known songs, the 1995 mega-hit “Name.” To Kennedy, the lyrics hit a little to close to home: “Did you lose yourself somewhere out there? Did you get to be a star?” And then “You could hide beside me/ Maybe for a while. And I won’t tell no one your name.”

She writes: “When I asked him about it he indeed admitted the inspiration and told me there was no way all we’d shared wasn’t going to show up in his writing.”

Here’s the song:

For more name-related quotes, check out the name quotes category.