Where did the baby name Matlock come from in 1987?

Title of the the TV show "Matlock" (1986-1995).

The legal drama Matlock premiered on TV in September of 1986. Matlock‘s main character was cantankerous criminal defense attorney Benjamin “Ben” Matlock (played by Andy Griffith).

The baby name Matlock appeared in the U.S. baby name data for the first and only time a year later:

  • 1989: unlisted
  • 1988: unlisted
  • 1987: 5 baby boys named Matlock [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted

But that’s only the second half of the story.

The pilot for the series aired in March of 1986. News of the pilot was in newspapers in November and December of 1985, but the papers misspelled the name of the show as Mattlock:


And the mere mention of the show — which hadn’t even aired yet — was apparently enough to inspire some expectant parents to name their sons Mattlock at the end of 1985:

  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: 7 baby boys named Mattlock [debut]
  • 1984: unlisted
  • 1983: unlisted

And so both Matlock (one T) and Mattlock (two T’s) became one-hit wonders during the 1980s.

Source: “TV Notes.” Evening Independent 3 Dec. 1985: 8-B.

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