What turned Staccato into a baby name in 1959?

The titular character from the TV series "Johnny Staccato" (1959-1960).
Johnny from “Johnny Staccato

The musical term staccato signifies a note that is played abruptly — disconnected from surrounding notes. In Italian, staccato means “detached, disconnected.”

So why did Staccato suddenly pop up in the U.S. baby name data in 1959 and 1960?

  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 10 boys named Staccato
  • 1959: 6 boys named Staccato [debut]
  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: unlisted

The answer is TV’s John Staccato — private detective and jazz pianist!

The titular character of Johnny Staccato (1959-1960) was a hip Greenwich Village jazz pianist who moonlighted as a detective-for-hire. He didn’t have an office, but could often be found at a jazz club called Waldo’s.

The show wasn’t on television long, but it made enough of an impression on viewers that the unusual name Staccato appeared in the U.S. baby name data for two years in a row.

Johnny Staccato was played by actor John Cassavetes, who went on to become an independent film pioneer. He influenced the charts a second time in 1965 with the birth of his daughter Alexandra, nicknamed “Xan.”

What do you think of Staccato as a baby name? Would you use it?

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