Where did the baby name Gloriajean come from in 1941?

Actress and singer Gloria Jean (1926-2018)
Gloria Jean (in 1940)

In the early 1940s, the compound name Gloriajean appeared for the first time in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1943: 18 baby girls named Gloriajean
  • 1942: 7 baby girls named Gloriajean
  • 1941: 13 baby girls named Gloriajean [debut]
  • 1940: unlisted
  • 1939: unlisted

(It was likely written “Gloria Jean” in real life, but comes up “Gloriajean” in the data because the SSA omits spaces.)

And, the year before Gloriajean debuted, the name Gloria — already popular thanks to Gloria Swanson, but starting to slip — got a boost:

  • 1942: 9,448 baby girls named Gloria [rank: 31st]
  • 1941: 9,007 baby girls named Gloria [rank: 26th]
  • 1940: 8,025 baby girls named Gloria [rank: 30th]
  • 1939: 5,939 baby girls named Gloria [rank: 36th]
  • 1938: 6,300 baby girls named Gloria [rank: 36th]

What was drawing attention to the names Gloria and Gloria Jean around this time?

Teenage singer and actress Gloria Jean.

She was born Gloria Jean Schoonover in Buffalo in 1926.

She started appearing in movies in 1939, when she was hired by Universal Pictures as a replacement for Deanna Durbin (who was five years older and aging out of child roles).

Gloria Jean’s film career peaked in the early 1940s. Her movies — which always involved her singing — included A Little Bit of Heaven (1940) and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941), in which she played herself:

Actress Gloria Jean (with 'Gloria Jean' bike) in the movie "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break" (1941)
Gloria Jean (with “Gloria Jean” bike)

Though roles had grown sparse by the mid-1950s, Gloria Jean continued singing and acting professionally until the early 1960s.

What do you think of the combo “Gloria Jean”? Do you like it as a compound first name, or do you prefer it as a first-middle pairing?

Sources: Gloria Jean – Wikipedia, SSA

Images: Clipping from the cover of Movie and Radio Guide (31 May 1940); screenshot of Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.

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