Babies named for Milton Berle

zsa zsa gabor, milton berle, tv, 1950
Milton Berle kisses Zsa Zsa Gabor, 1956

In yesterday’s post about Zsa Zsa Gabor, I mentioned Milton Berle.

Though he’d been in the public eye since the 1930s, Milton Berle didn’t become “Mr. Television” until he started hosting NBC’s Emmy-winning Tuesday night show Texaco Star Theater (1948–55). The show turned Berle into “perhaps the most famous man in America in the late 1940’s and 50’s.”

Nightclubs changed their closing to Tuesday nights from Monday because of the popularity of Mr. Berle’s show. Restaurants were empty for the hour he was on the air and business in movie houses and theaters plummeted.

“In Detroit, an investigation took place when the water levels took a drastic drop in the reservoirs on Tuesday nights between 9 and 9:05,” Mr. Berle wrote. “It turned out that everyone waited until the end of the ‘Texaco Star Theater’ before going to the bathroom.”

So perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that, during the years that Texaco Star Theater was on the air, the downward-trending baby name Milton leveled off, then increased in usage a little, before continuing to decline in the later ’50s.

Graph of the usage of the baby name Milton in the U.S. since 1880
Milton’s slight mid-century rebound

A handful of these mid-century Miltons even got the middle name Berle (thought it was sometimes spelled “Burl” or “Berl”). One example is Milton Berle Nelon, who was born in North Carolina in 1951.

Sources: Milton Berle, TV’s First Star As ‘Uncle Miltie,’ Dies at 93, Milton Berle – Wikipedia

3 thoughts on “Babies named for Milton Berle

  1. Notice the years of that slight increase; it was when the baby boom began. (Since your site’s graphs go by raw numbers you need to bear in mind the changing birthrates of the time frame as I’ve pointed out before in another post where you looked at a name during the 1940s.)

  2. Very good point, that could be part of it as well. I should have mentioned the baby boom in the post.

    That said, different names were influenced in different ways by the baby boom. Some rose dramatically, some weren’t affected at all, most were somewhere in the middle.

    Notice Milton’s steep decline prior to the rebound. I doubt an unstylish name like Milton would have bounced back like it did without the positive influence of Milton Berle. Even given the backdrop of a baby boom.

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