Where did the baby name Hoby come from in 1958?

The character Hoby Gilman from the TV series "Trackdown" (1957-1959)
Hoby Gilman from “Trackdown

Westerns were the hottest thing on television in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and we can see it in the baby name data. Here’s yet another Western-inspired debut, Hoby:

  • 1960: 6 baby boys named Hoby
  • 1959: 14 baby boys named Hoby
  • 1958: 30 baby boys named Hoby [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted

Hoby (which rhymes with Toby and Dobie) was the top debut of the year for boys in 1958. In fact, one of the biggest boy name debuts ever.

The inspiration? Hoby Gilman, the main character of the TV western Trackdown (1957-1959).

Hoby, played by actor Robert Culp, was a Texas Ranger who spent his days tracking down bad guys in post-Civil War Texas. “[Culp’s] Hoby Gilman was a cooler character than other deadpan Western cowboys. Culp…imbued Hoby with a hipness that was ahead of the time but which presaged the Sixties yet to come.”

Notably, Trackdown “was given official approval from the (modern day) Rangers and the state of Texas.”

The character originated on an episode of Zane Grey Theatre in May of 1957. A mere five months later, a whole series based on Hoby had emerged. (A whopping five episodes of Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre were developed into subsequent TV shows. Impressive.)

Robert Culp went on to co-star with Bill Cosby in I Spy from 1965 to 1968. His character, named Kelly, gave a temporary boost to the male usage of Kelly, which peaked for boys in 1967/1968.

What are your thoughts on the name Hoby?


2 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Hoby come from in 1958?

  1. How interesting. My nephew’s name is Hobey but the Western/cowboy connection never occurred to me. His name inspiration came from the Hobey Baker Award, as mom and dad are both big hockey fans.

  2. Oh that’s a great name for the son of hockey lovers. :)

    I think I remember the Hobey Baker Award popping up in the search results a few times when I was trying to figure this one out. The thing *really* got in my way was the “Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership” organization — acronym HOBY — which was founded in 1958.

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