Where did the baby name Melora come from in 1956?

The character Melora from the movie "Don't Go Near the Water" (1957)
Melora from “Don’t Go Near the Water

The mellifluous name Melora debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1956:

  • 1959: 12 baby girls named Melora
  • 1958: 10 baby girls named Melora
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: 7 baby girls named Melora [debut]
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted

Where did it come from?

William Brinkley’s novel Don’t Go Near the Water, a military comedy that came out in mid-1956 and became the bestselling book in the country that year. The character Melora Alba, a native of the remote Pacific island of Tulura, was the love interest of main character Ensign Max Siegel of the U.S. Navy.

The name dropped out of the data the next year, and it may have remained a one-hit wonder if not for the late 1957 release of the movie Don’t Go Near the Water, in which Glenn Ford* and Gia Scala played Max and Melora. Right on cue, the name returned in 1958.

No one can pinpoint where Melora comes from or what it means, but we do know it was featured in the late 17th century Arthurian romance “Eachtra Mhelora agus Orlando,” Irish for “Adventures of Melora and Orlando.”

The name is still being given to babies these days, but usage rarely rises above a dozen babies per year.

Do you like the name Melora? Do you like it more or less than other Mel- names such as Melissa and Melinda?

*Glenn Ford’s birth name was Gwyllyn Ford. He based his stage name on Glenford, the name of the Canadian village where his father was born. His biography states that Gwyllyn is a Welsh form of William.


Image: Screenshot of Don’t Go Near the Water (1957)

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