What turned Bimbo into a baby name in 1954?

Bimbo, Jim Reeves
“Bimbo” by Jim Reeves

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, records, 1954, song
© 1954 Billboard

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.


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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