Will the baby name Sparkle make a comeback?

Title of the movie "Sparkle" (1976)

The 1976 movie Sparkle is set the late ’50s/early ’60s and follows three sisters — Sparkle (played by Irene Cara), Sister and Delores — as they form a girl group and try to find fame. It’s loosely based on the story of the Supremes, but set in Harlem instead of Detroit.

Did Sparkle have an influence on U.S. baby names? Yes — the baby name Sparkle, bestowed infrequently before the release of the movie, was given to dozens (and, later, hundreds) of baby girls starting in the mid-1970s:

  • 1980: 110 baby girls named Sparkle
  • 1979: 125 baby girls named Sparkle
  • 1978: 71 baby girls named Sparkle
  • 1977: 89 baby girls named Sparkle
  • 1976: 44 baby girls named Sparkle
  • 1975: not listed

And actress Dwan Smith, who portrayed Delores in the film, boosted the visibility (and usage) of the baby name Dwan:

  • 1978: 39 baby girls named Dwan
  • 1977: 61 baby girls named Dwan
  • 1976: 47 baby girls named Dwan
  • 1975: 12 baby girls named Dwan

Lately, Sparkle’s numbers have been much less impressive…but that could soon change, as a remake of Sparkle starring Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks is set to be released on August 17.

Tika is another Sparkle name we should watch for. Delores is played by Tika Sumpter in the remake, so it’s possible that Tika could get a boost in 2012 the way Dwan did in 1976.

Do you think the new movie could spark a Sparkle comeback? Could Tika take off?

P.S. Tika Sumpter’s birth name was Euphemia. Ironically, the sisters’ mother in the movie was named Effie — a nickname for Euphemia. (And Effie was played by actress Mary Alice, whose mother had the very interesting name Ozelar.)

Update, Apr. 2024: I just discovered an alternate (better?) theory for the rise of Dwan: the movie King Kong (1976), in which the primary female character (played by Jessica Lange) was named Dwan.

Source: SSA

4 thoughts on “Will the baby name Sparkle make a comeback?

  1. Forgot to mention — Sparkle actually debuted on the list back in 1948. That was the only time it made the list prior to the ’70s.

    What caused the early mini-spike of Sparkles?

    Sparkle Plenty, comic book character (and, later, doll). She was born in mid-1947 to Dick Tracy characters Bob Oscar “B.O.” Plenty and his wife Gertrude (“Gravel Gertie”) Plenty.

    According to Wikipedia, Sparkle’s “birth became a significant mainstream media event, with spinoff merchandising and magazine coverage.”

    (There was also a short-lived radio show called Sparkle Time, named in honor of sparkly sponsor by Canada Dry, but I don’t think it lasted long enough into 1947 to have an effect on baby names.)

    Sources: Dick Tracy – Wikipedia, Sparkle Time – Wikipedia

  2. I briefly worked with a woman named Sparkle. Age-wise the Dick Tracy character might have been an influence – I’d guess she was born in the 50s.

    However, her last name was Diamond so that might have been the main reason her parents went with Sparkle. And yes that was her real first name, not a nickname.

  3. Sparkle Diamond?! Wow, that’s a pairing that really stands out. Pun names can be pretty polarizing…I hope she enjoyed having that name (not everyone would!).

  4. Sparkle Moore, a rockabilly singer during the second half of the 1950s, took her stage name from the comic strip character: “Her adoptive name, Sparkle Moore, was derived from Sparkle Plenty, based on her hairstyle resemblance to this character in the Dick Tracy comic strip.” Her birth name was Barbara Morgan (b. 1936, Nebraska).

    Source: Bio – Sparkle Moore

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