What turned Bimbo into a baby name in 1954?

The Rod Morris single "Bimbo" (1953)
“Bimbo” single

Would you name your son Bimbo?

I ask because Bimbo was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 1954. Five baby boys got the name that year.

  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: 5 baby boys named Bimbo [debut]
  • 1953: unlisted
  • 1952: unlisted

Cruel? Possibly.

These parents weren’t bestowing it with the slang term in mind, though. (Bimbo, originally a variant of bambino, Italian for “baby,” had become a synonym for “floozie” back in the 1920s.) They’d heard it in a country song about a little boy called Bimbo. Here’s the first verse:

Bimbo is a little boy who’s got million friends
and every time he passes by, they all invite him in
He’ll clap his hands, sing and dance, and talk his baby talk
With a hole in pants, and his knees stickin’ out, he’s just big enough to walk

“Bimbo,” written circa 1953 by Rod Morris, was recorded in 1953-1954 by various performers including Gene Autry*, Ruby Wright, Pee Wee King/Redd Stewart, Eddy Howard, Lawrence Welk, Polly Possum, and Brucie Weil.

"Bimbo" advertisement

But the most successful rendition was performed by Jim Reeves, whose “Bimbo,” released in late 1953, peaked at #2 on the list of Best Selling Country & Western Records for three weeks from late January to early February, 1954.

[T]he song became wildly popular, especially with families who had children. “People were even naming their little boys ‘Bimbo,’ after the song,” [Jim’s wife] Mary said in astonishment.

Here’s a video featuring the Jim Reeves recording:

What do you think of the name Bimbo?

*This was a few years after Gene’s rendition of “Frosty the Snowman” inspired a handful of parents to name their sons Frosty.


Second image: © 1954 Billboard

2 thoughts on “What turned Bimbo into a baby name in 1954?

  1. I know a man called Bimbo, in Eastern Canada. I’ve never asked if it’s his legal name or a nick name.

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