Where did the baby name Tootie come from in 1958?

Dorothea "Tootie" Stevens holding a letter from North Pole (1958)
Dorothea “Tootie” Stevens

Long before the character Tootie from the ’80s TV series The Facts of Life, the baby name name Tootie appeared in the U.S. baby name data for the first and only time, in 1958:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 5 baby girls named Tootie [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted

What gave the usage of Tootie a boost that year?

Possibly nothing. “Tootie” is a diminutive of Dorothy, which, though declining in popularity during that period, was still being given to thousands of baby girls per year. So Tootie may have emerged in the data naturally.

That said, if there is a reason, it could be 13-year-old Dorothea “Tootie” Stevens of Washington, D.C., whose picture ran in some newspapers in August of 1958. (I couldn’t find a non-watermarked copy, unfortunately.)

Why was her picture in the papers?

Because she’d just received a letter “from the top of the world.” The letter came from U.S. Navy Commander Richard F. Dobbins, a family friend who, at that time, was serving as the medical officer aboard the nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus, which had just made the very first undersea transit of the Arctic ice cap.

What do you think of the name Tootie — does it work on its own, or is it better as a nickname?

Source: SSA

3 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Tootie come from in 1958?

  1. My lil’ Sister was nicknamed Tootie in the late 50’s. She was born January 1st, 1953, so she would have been “5” when the above article became news. Awesome…the nickname stuck with those of us growing up with her.

  2. The 1944 movie Meet Me in St Louis featured child star Margaret O’Brien, playing a character named Tootie. This preceded Tootie Stevens in 1958.

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