The rise of Madison: An early sign?

We all know that usage of the baby name Madison rose sharply in the years after 1984, thanks to the movie Splash, which starred Daryl Hannah as mermaid Madison (named after Madison Avenue).

Daryl Hannah as Madison in "Splash," © Disney

Interestingly, I’ve found an article in New York Magazine, published only about two and a half months after the movie was released, that seems to predict this rise.

The article mostly focuses on Alan Ladd Jr.’s unlucky decision not to produce Splash, but it includes the following quotes, allegedly spoken by an anonymous Hollywood movie producer:

“Do you suppose this is happening all over the country?” the Hollywood producer asked nervously.

“Two weeks ago, I walk into a party, and there is this woman I’ve known for fifteen years, always wears her blonde hair properly tied back from her face. She’s gone to see Splash, this movie about a mermaid named Madison, and now she’s trying to be Daryl Hannah. She’s got blonde bangs hat practically cover her eyes. Then last night, my wife tells me the couple down the street had a baby girl that morning. They named the baby Madison.”

That was how the article began, and here’s how it ends:

The producer’s shoulders shuddered almost imperceptibly. “It could happen to any of us,” he said. “I tell you, I can’t get that baby named Madison out of my mind.”

…Just like a lot of expectant parents couldn’t get the name Madison out of their minds in the years to come. The popularity of the name snowballed over the next couple of decades. It peaked at #2 in the nation in 2001 and 2002, behind #1 Emily both times.

Source: Kasindorf, Jeanie. “How not to make a “Splash.”” New York Magazine 21 May 1984: 34.

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