Where did the baby name Jorel come from in 1979?

The character Jor-El (played by Marlon Brando) in the movie Superman (1978).
Jor-El in “Superman

The name Jorel first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1979:

  • 1981: 27 baby boys named Jorel
  • 1980: 10 baby boys named Jorel
  • 1979: 22 baby boys named Jorel [debut]
  • 1978: unlisted
  • 1977: unlisted

It was highest-debuting boy name of the year, in fact.

Where did it come from?

The movie Superman, which, despite being released in mid-December of 1978, was the second-highest-grossing film of the year. (The highest-grossing film, Grease, came out in June.)

Superman’s father, Kryptonian scientist Jor-El (played by Marlon Brando), wasn’t on-screen long before the planet Krypton was destroyed. Still, he made enough of an impression that nearly two dozen babies were named in his honor.

(The SSA strips hyphens out of the data, so there’s no telling just how many of these baby Jorels were actually named “Jor-El.”)

Interestingly, the name has been in the data every year since:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Jorel in the United States since 1880.

Usage peaked in the mid-1980s, then started petering out…until the early 2000s, when it bounced back. Why? Perhaps the combined influence of the TV show Smallville (2001-2011) and the film Superman Returns (2006).

The name saw it’s second-highest year of usage in 2014, following the release of the movie Man of Steel (2013), in which Jor-El was played by Russell Crowe.

What’s your opinion of the name Jor-El?

4 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Jorel come from in 1979?

  1. It was the same here, for a couple of decades — Kalel didn’t pop up on the national list until the mid-1990s.

    Nice find with Loislane! I’m checking some U.S. lists now and I’ve found 3 Loislanes so far, including Lisa Loislane Landin, born in 1981 in California.

    And since we’re talking Lois Lane, here’s a post on Torchy Blane. :)

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