Where did the baby name Lash come from in 1948?

The actor/character Lash LaRue in the movie "Son of a Bad Man" (1949).
Lash LaRue in “Son of a Bad Man

The curious name Lash first appeared in the U.S. baby name data (as a boy name) in 1948:

  • 1953: 11 baby boys named Lash
  • 1952: 9 baby boys named Lash
  • 1951: 8 baby boys named Lash
  • 1950: unlisted
  • 1949: 6 baby boys named Lash
  • 1948: 5 baby boys named Lash [debut]
  • 1947: unlisted
  • 1946: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Either of two related things: actor Alfred “Lash” LaRue, who starred in dozens of B-Westerns in the late 1940s and early 1950s, or one of the characters he portrayed — the similarly named Lash LaRue. The character was featured in a series of eleven “Lash LaRue” movies released from 1948 to 1952.

The actor/character Lash LaRue in the movie "Son of a Bad Man" (1949).
Lash LaRue in “Son of a Bad Man

LaRue, who bore a strong resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, got the nickname “Lash” from his use of an 18-foot bullwhip. He learned how to wield it in preparation for an earlier movie role as the Cheyenne Kid. It became his signature prop/weapon thereafter. (At the time, movie cowboys either used revolvers or fought with their fists.)

He was glad to be rid of the nickname “Al”:

“I never liked ‘Al,’ ” he says. “When I sold newspapers on the streets, every fat-bellied, tobacco-spitting character was named ‘Al’ or ‘Big Al.’ That wasn’t for me.”

The character was popular enough to be featured in a series of Lash LaRue comic books, sold from 1949 until 1961. “His comic books were immensely popular, with each selling at least a million copies.”

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