What turned Gig into a baby name?

Actor Gig Young in the movie "Old Acquaintance" (1943).
Actor Gig Young

The unusual name Gig has appeared in the U.S. baby name data a total of three times, all during the 1960s:

  • 1970: unlisted
  • 1969: unlisted
  • 1968: 5 baby boys named Gig
  • 1967: unlisted
  • 1966: unlisted
  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: 6 baby boys named Gig
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: 6 baby boys named Gig [debut]
  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: unlisted

The source? American actor Gig Young (1913-1978) — though none these years quite match up with the high points of his career, like his 1969 Oscar win.

I’m mentioning him today because yesterday, in the Fiona post, we talked about the movie The Gay Sisters (1942). One of Gig’s first notable roles was in this movie, but get this: He was hired to play the part of Gig Young. He got the the gig under his birth name, Byron Barr.

Improbably, there was already an established actor in Hollywood named Byron Barr (1917-1966) when the second Byron was starting out. So at some point during the making of the film, a publicist suggested that he adopt “Gig Young” as his stage name. And he did.

Here’s the actor (and his new name) being spotlighted in an advertisement for the film:

gig young, 1940s, name

Not long after this, Gig appeared in Old Acquaintance (1943) — the film that gave us the Deirdre spike of ’44.

Sadly, Gig’s life wasn’t easy. It ended in suicide, immediately after he murdered (!) his fifth wife. A 1991 biography — “an interesting look at the disintegration of yet another film actor” — was cleverly titled Final Gig.

What are your thoughts on the name Gig?

Source: In ‘Final Gig,’ Psychoanalysis Of Young Goes On To Bitter End

4 thoughts on “What turned Gig into a baby name?

  1. I was pronouncing it Gh-i-j until I got the to the end and his book was titled , “The Final Gig” as in the gig is up, how did you get this gig anyways. Gh-i Gh. I like Gh-I-J. I like Gij better, reminds me of Gidget , with Sally Field. Very interesting though.

  2. Thank you so much!! How did a movie with Barbara Stanwick get past my radar?!? I wonder if they have the movie on Amazon?
    I suppose as well, how many actors would have kept the name Benedict Cumberpatch in this day and age, and yet, he totally makes it work! He even laughs at all the mistakes on his last name (I thought it was cummerbund the first time I saw it LOL)

    Do you ever wonder if a famous movie star was named Gig Downey Jr. would the name make a resurgence?

    Thank you so much again!!

  3. Oh I love her too, you’re very welcome. :)

    I think there’s potential for *any* name to return (or debut) if the movie star in question has a high enough “cool quotient.” If we could rewind to the early 1990s and magically change Leonardo DiCaprio’s first name to “Gig,” for instance, I bet there would be good number of young Gigs running around right now.

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