Where did the baby name Keefe come from in 1952?

Actor Keefe Brasselle in the movie "The Eddie Cantor Story" (1953)
Keefe Brasselle

The curious name Keefe first emerged in the U.S. baby name data in 1952:

  • 1954: 9 baby boys named Keefe
  • 1953: 5 baby boys named Keefe
  • 1952: 5 baby boys named Keefe [debut]
  • 1951: unlisted
  • 1950: unlisted

What put it there?

Actor Keefe Brasselle. He was was a relative newcomer in the early ’50s, and his biggest role was as entertainer Eddie Cantor in the much anticipated movie The Eddie Cantor Story, which came out in late 1953. (The filmmakers were hoping to duplicate the success of 1946 biopic The Jolson Story.)

He was making headlines as early as mid-1952 just for landing the part. One paper said in April of ’52: “This role could, and probably will, make Brasselle a great star.”

Unfortunately, the movie got mixed reviews, and Brasselle’s performance as Cantor was described with words like “uncomfortable,” “exaggerated,” and “disconcerting.” It wasn’t the big break he thought it would be, in other words.

Keefe continued appearing in small roles during the 1950s. In 1963, got another shot with The Keefe Brasselle Show — a summer replacement for The Garry Moore Show — but the series was similarly unsuccessful. It did lead to a spike in the usage of the baby name Keefe in ’63, though.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Keefe? Do you like it more or less than Keith?


Image: © 1953 Warner Bros.

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