What brought the baby name Stedman back in 1987?

Stedman Graham on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (in 1989)
Stedman Graham on “The Oprah Winfrey Show

According to Wikipedia, Stedman Graham is an “educator, author, businessman and speaker.” But, without Wikipedia’s help, how would you describe Stedman? That’s right: “Oprah’s boyfriend.”

Oprah began dating Stedman Graham in mid-1986, a few months before The Oprah Winfrey Show premiered. We’ve already seen how the name Oprah debuted in the U.S. baby name data that year, but did you know that the talk show gave the baby name Stedman a boost as well?

  • 1990: 38 baby boys named Stedman
  • 1989: 82 baby boys named Stedman (peak usage)
  • 1988: 29 baby boys named Stedman
  • 1987: 20 baby boys named Stedman
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted

Not only did “Stedman” reappear in the data in 1987 after a 48-year absence, but, the following year, the name Steadman similarly re-emerged, and the names Stedmen, Stedmon and Stedmond all appeared for the very first time.

And what accounts for the Stedman spike of 1989?

In February of that year, Stedman appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show for the first time. The episode was about “men who marry or date famous women, and how they cope with it.” The other guests were actress Susan Lucci and her husband Helmut, and singer Barbara Mandrell and her husband Ken.

While usage of the name Stedman has tapered off since 1989, the relationship between Oprah and Stedman is still going strong nearly 3 decades later. They attended the Oscars together last month, in fact.

Stedman is one several “significant other” baby names I’ve spotted in the SSA’s baby name data so far. Others include Josanne, Movita and Tarita (all associated with Marlon Brando), Syreeta and Londie (both associated with Stevie Wonder), Loray and Altovise (both associated with Sammy Davis, Jr.), one-hit wonder Kayatana (girlfriend of Flip Wilson), Marva (first wife of Joe Louis) and Sonji (first wife of Muhammad Ali). Stedman is unique, though, in that it’s a male name that was popularized by a famous female — not a common scenario, it seems.

Sources: Stedman Graham – Wikipedia, Oprah’s Beau Drops In Her Main Squeeze Meets Star’s Tv ‘Family’

One thought on “What brought the baby name Stedman back in 1987?

  1. One more significant other that I could have mentioned in this post is Jionni, boyfriend (later husband) of Jersey Shore star Snooki. His name was the top debut name of 2011. But…Jionni was on the reality TV show alongside everyone else, and I think this is the primary the popularity of his name increased that year (even though being a “significant other” is what got him on the show in the first place).

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