What turned Fame into a baby name in 1981?

The character Coco (played by Irene Cara) from the movie "Fame" (1980)
Coco from “Fame

The movie Fame, released In May of 1980, followed a group of teenagers attending a performing arts high school in New York City.

The movie was a success, but its theme song was even more of a success.

“Fame” the song — performed by one of the film’s young stars, Irene Cara (who played Coco Hernandez) — reached #1 on Billboard‘s Disco Action chart in August and #4 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart in September. It even ended up winning the Oscar for Best Original Song.

And in 1981, for the first and only time, the unlikely name Fame made an appearance in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: 7 baby girls named Fame [debut]
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: unlisted

(In the song, Cara sings the lyrics “remember my name” multiple times…could this line have acted as a subtle name-prompt to listeners?)

Neither Fame the TV show (1982-1987) nor Fame the movie remake (2009) managed to revive the baby name Fame after 1981.

Here’s Cara lip-syncing to “Fame” in New York City in 1982:

What do you think of Fame as a name?

Sources: Academy Award for Best Original Song – Wikipedia, SSA

Image: Screenshot of Fame

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