How did the O. J. Simpson trial influence baby names in the mid-1990s?

O. J. Simpson trial witness Kato Kaelin
Kato Kaelin

In June of 1994, former NFL star Orenthal James “O. J.” Simpson was charged with murdering his ex-wife, Nicole, and Nicole’s friend Ron.

The heavily publicized murder trial began early the next year. Simpson was finally acquitted on October 3, 1995 — nineteen years ago today.

Believe it or not, the trial had an impact on U.S. baby names in the mid-1990s.

In March of 1995, memorable witness Brian “Kato” Kaelin — who had been living on Simpson’s property at the time of the murders — took the stand. (His nickname came from the Green Hornet character.)

While the usage of Kato did not see a large increase in usage, both the male and female usage of Kaelin spiked in 1995:

Kaelin (m)Kaelin (f)Kato
†Peak usage
O. J. Simpson trial witness Arnelle Simpson
Arnelle Simpson

In July of 1995, Arnelle Simpson — O. J.’s adult daughter with his first wife, Marguerite — was called as the first witness for the defense.

Both the name Arnelle and the variant spelling Arnell saw higher usage that year as a result:

†Peak usage

Simpson’s defense attorney, Robert Kardashian, did not influence names in the 1990s…but his daughters and ex-wife would go on to influence U.S. baby names in multiple ways after becoming reality TV stars in the 2000s.

Sources: O. J. Simpson murder case – Wikipedia, SSA

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