What gave the baby name Alfie a boost?

The titular character from the movie "Alfie" (1966).
Alfie Elkins from “Alfie

These days, the baby name Alfie sees a lot more usage overseas than it does in America. That said, Alfie (and Alfy) were doing some interesting things on the U.S. baby name charts in the mid-1960s:

YearAlfie usageAlfy usage
196934 baby boysunlisted
196857 baby boys (rank: 968th)unlisted
196762 baby boys (rank: 915th) [peak]unlisted
196616 baby boys15 baby boys [debut]
1965unlistedunlisted
1964unlistedunlisted

(There was some female usage of Alfie during this time as well, but I didn’t include it in the table.)

Alfie‘s influence is easy enough to pinpoint, so let’s start there. In 1966, the well-received British movie Alfie came out — in March in the UK, and in August in the US. Michael Caine had the starring role as womanizer Alfie Elkins, and this proved to be the breakthrough role of his career.

The titular character from the movie "Alfie" (1966).
Alfie Elkins from “Alfie

The film — with lots of help from the theme song “Alfie,” which was recorded and released by multiple artists, including Dionne Warwick — pushed the baby name Alfie into the top U.S. 1,000, where it stuck around for just two years.

The explanation behind the sudden appearance of Alfy, a distinct spelling (and also the top one-hit wonder name for boys in 1966), took me a lot longer to figure out.

The character Alfy from the TV soap opera "Never Too Young" (1965-1966).
Alfy from “Never Too Young

This one came from the short-lived teen soap opera Never Too Young, which aired on September of 1965 to June of 1966. It was set in Malibu and was narrated by the character Alfy, owner of the local beach hangout. He was played by British actor David Watson (whose first American TV appearance was on Rawhide with Clint Eastwood, aka Rowdy Yates).

One thing I find curious is that two fictional British characters named Alfie/Alfy emerged around the same time in American pop culture. The movie was an adaptation of the 1963 play Alfie by Bill Naughton…perhaps the play influenced the writers of the TV show as well?

Which spelling do you like more, Alfie or Alfy?

Source: Never Too Young – Wikipedia

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