What popularized the baby name Clint in the 1950s?

Actor Clint Walker as character Cheyenne Bodie in the TV series "Cheyenne" (1955-1963).
Clint Walker in “Cheyenne

The name Clint was already moderately popular in the early 1950s, but usage increased considerably in middle of the decade:

  • 1959: 482 baby boys named Clint (rank: 357th)
  • 1958: 476 baby boys named Clint (rank: 350th)
  • 1957: 397 baby boys named Clint (rank: 385th)
  • 1956: 257 baby boys named Clint (rank: 470th)
  • 1955: 116 baby boys named Clint (rank: 681st)
  • 1954: 79 baby boys named Clint (rank: 813th)
  • 1953: 108 baby boys named Clint (rank: 688th)
  • 1952: 83 baby boys named Clint (rank: 772nd)
  • 1951: 79 baby boys named Clint (rank: 792nd)
  • 1950: 60 baby boys named Clint (rank: 886th)

The reason for the rise?

My money’s on Clint Walker, the actor who played the part of Cheyenne Bodie in the successful TV Western Cheyenne (1955-1963), which happened to be television’s first hour-long Western.

Cheyenne Bodie was “a former frontier scout who drifts through the old West, traveling without any particular motivation from one adventure to another.”

The series was held together not so much by its premise as by its charismatic star, Clint Walker, who rose from obscurity to become one of the icons of the TV western. With his powerful physique and towering height, Walker commanded the small screen through sheer presence; his performance gained gravity simply from the way his body dominated the screen.

According to the Nielsen ratings, Cheyenne was a top-20 series for three seasons straight (1957-58, 1958-59, and 1959-60).

The show also boosted the male usage of Cheyenne during the second half of the 1950s and through most of the 1960s.

But I should mention that Clint Walker and Cheyenne are only part of the story, as several other gun-slinging Clints also emerged around this time:

  • Clint Tollinger, a character played by Robert Mitchum in the movie Man with the Gun (1955).
  • Clint Reno, a character played by Elvis Presley in the movie Love Me Tender (1956).
  • Clint Travis, a character played by and Paul “Kelo” Henderson in the TV series 26 Men (1957-1959).

There was also a non-gun-slinging teenager named Clint in the short Micky Mouse Club serial The Adventures of Clint and Mac (most episodes aired in January of 1958).

The rise of Clint didn’t continue into the ’60s, despite a continued Clint presence in pop culture:

  • Clint Eastwood, the actor who played Rowdy Yates on the TV series Rawhide (1959-1966).
  • Clint McCoy, a character played by Rory Calhoun in the movie Young Fury (1965).

But usage picked back up in the ’70s. Clint saw peak popularity in 1980. These days, usage is roughly back down to pre-Cheyenne levels.

Do you like the name Clint? Would you use it for your baby boy?

Source: Cheyenne, U.S. Western – The Museum of Broadcast Communications

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