Where did the baby name Donivee come from in 1942?

Actress Donivee Purkey
Actress Donivee Purkey

The curious name Donivee has appeared in the U.S. baby name data just once, in 1942:

  • 1944: unlisted
  • 1943: unlisted
  • 1942: 5 baby girls named Donivee [debut]
  • 1941: unlisted
  • 1940: unlisted

Where did this one-hit wonder baby name come from?

It was inspired by Donivee Purkey, an actress who gave Hollywood a shot in the early 1940s.

From mid-to-late 1941, 19-year-old Donivee Purkey of Texas was touted as a talented newcomer to motion pictures. A full-length image of “Pretty Purkey” was published in the newspapers in August; Hedda Hopper wrote about her in September; Ann Marsters told readers to “watch for a pretty girl named Donivee Purkey” in October.

Actress Donivee Purkey
“Pretty Purkey”

By the end of the year, Donivee Purkey’s name had changed twice: first to Laura Lee (or Lora Lee), then to Donivee Lee.

Despite all the hype and name-changing, though, Donivee Lee’s film career fizzled. Her first movie was supposed to be Cecil B. DeMille’s Reap the Wild Wind, but it’s not listed on her IMDb page. Out of the four movies listed, The Great Moment (1944) is the only one in which she played a credited role.

According to one source, Donivee ended up marrying a Hollywood executive. I’m guessing she stopped pursuing a film career at that point.

What are your thoughts on the name Donivee?


P.S. Jinx, Gwili, and Sivi are three more forgotten Hollywood actresses who left their mark on the U.S. baby name charts.

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