What popularized the baby name Tara?

Tara, the plantation from the movie "Gone with the Wind" (1939).
Tara, the plantation from “Gone with the Wind

The heroine of the book Gone with the Wind (1936), Katie Scarlett O’Hara, was originally called Pansy O’Hara.

And that’s not the only name change that author Margaret Mitchell made before her book was published.

She also changed the name of Scarlett’s stately home, originally called Fontenoy Hall, to Tara — after Ireland’s Hill of Tara.

What happened to the baby name Tara after the movie version of Gone with the Wind came out in 1939? It immediately debuted on the baby name charts:

  • 1941: 14 baby girls named Tara
  • 1940: 13 baby girls named Tara
  • 1939: 7 baby girls named Tara [debut]
  • 1938: unlisted
  • 1937: unlisted

Usage continued to rise through the ’40s and ’50s. And, thanks to television, it was given two big boosts in the late ’60s and early ’70s — one from The Avengers character Tara King (on the show from 1968 to 1969), the other from soap opera All My Children character Tara Martin (introduced in 1970).

  • 1973: 6,706 baby girls named Tara (rank: 37th)
  • 1972: 7,230 baby girls named Tara (rank: 38th)
  • 1971: 6,327 baby girls named Tara (rank: 50th)
  • 1970: 5,334 baby girls named Tara (rank: 69th)
  • 1969: 3,519 baby girls named Tara (rank: 107th)
  • 1968: 2,184 baby girls named Tara (rank: 147th)
  • 1967: 1,290 baby girls named Tara (rank: 229th)

Tara landed inside the top 40 six different times during the 1970s, far surpassing the popularity of Scarlett, which couldn’t even make the top 1,000 that decade.

But, as with all fads, after the rise comes the fall. Tara was out of the top 100 by the early ’90s. It ranked 775th in 2010, and could drop out of the top 1,000 entirely within the next few years.

Source: Walker, Marianne. Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With the Wind. Atlanta, Georgia: Peachtree Publishers, 2011.

3 thoughts on “What popularized the baby name Tara?

  1. this is interesting…as a Tara named after the soap character I was often asked if I was named for Gone With The Wind! I was born in the 80’s after the name fell out of popularity a bit…I have only met a few other Tara’s and they have all been older. But a friend of mine has a niece in kindergarten with a friend named Tara…so maybe it’s on it’s way back?

  2. I’m sure it will be back one day, but for now the numbers are still headed downward:

    2006 – 685 Taras
    2007 – 577 Taras
    2008 – 488 Taras
    2009 – 423 Taras
    2010 – 350 Taras

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