What popularized the baby name Cindy in 1957?

Sheet music for "Cindy, Oh Cindy" (1956) by Eddie Fisher
“Cindy, Oh Cindy” sheet music

The name Cindy, which was already trendy in the 1950s, saw a sizeable increase in usage in 1956, followed by massive increase in usage in 1957:

  • 1958: 16,587 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 25th]
  • 1957: 20,269 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 19th] (peak usage)
  • 1956: 9,980 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 37th]
  • 1955: 5,591 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 79th]
  • 1954: 4,715 baby girls named Cindy [rank: 91st]
Graph of the usage of the baby name Cindy in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Cindy

The spelling variants Cindie, Cindee, and Cindye also reached their highest-ever usage in 1957, as did the formal version of the name, Cynthia.

What caused the sharp rise in usage?

The catchy song “Cindy, Oh Cindy,” which was most popular at the end of 1956 and the start of 1957.

During the last two months of 1956, two different recordings of the song peaked on Billboard‘s “Top 100” chart (the precursor to the today’s “Hot 100” chart):

  • The Vince Martin version peaked at #12 (for three weeks)
  • The Eddie Fisher* version peaked at #10 (for two weeks)

Television audiences were also hearing the song: Perry Como sang it on his own show in November, and Vince Martin sang it on The Steve Allen Show in December.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Cindy? Would you use it?

Sources: SSA, Billboard

*Eddie Fisher’s wife, Debbie Reynolds, scored an even bigger hit with “Tammy” later the same year. (Their daughter, Carrie, went on to play Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies.)

P.S. No doubt the popularity of Cindy laid the groundwork for the debut of Cindylou in 1957, but I have to wonder if the character Cindy-Lou Who from the Dr. Seuss story How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (which was published simultaneously in Redbook magazine and as a standalone children’s book in December of 1957) didn’t lend a hand.

The character Cindy-Lou Who from Dr. Seuss book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" (1957).
Cindy-Lou Who

Incidentally, the Buddy Holly song “Peggy Sue” (1957) was originally called “Cindy Lou.”

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