What popularized the baby name Marlon?

Actor Marlon Brando in the movie "On the Waterfront" (1954).
Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront

Ready for a week’s worth of names related to actor Marlon Brando?

Let’s kick things off with Marlon Brando’s first name.

The name Marlon has been given to U.S. babies (both boys and girls) for many years, but it didn’t crack the top 1,000 (for boys) until 1950:

  • 1952: 98 baby boys named Marlon [rank: 711th]
  • 1951: 69 baby boys named Marlon [rank: 846th]
  • 1950: 52 baby boys named Marlon [rank: 968th]
  • 1949: 36 baby boys named Marlon
  • 1948: 27 baby boys named Marlon
Graph of the usage of the baby name Marlon in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Marlon

This was the year Marlon Brando began appearing on the big screen, first in The Men (1950), then in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Viva Zapata! (1952), Julius Caesar (1953) and On the Waterfront (1954).

Usage of the name has spiked twice so far:

  • The first spike was in 1955, when it became the 344th most popular boy name. This was thanks to On The Waterfront, for which Brando won the Oscar for Best Actor.
  • The second spike was in 1972, when it became the 218th most popular boy name. The Godfather (1972) — for which Brando won (but rejected!) the Oscar for Best Actor — was probably an influence, but I’m guessing the stronger influence was Marlon Jackson of The Jackson 5.

In 2009, the name Marlon was given to 374 baby boys and ranked 656th in the U.S.

What are your thoughts on this name?

Image: © 1954 Columbia Pictures

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.