How did “Room 222” influence baby names?

The Emmy Award-winning television series Room 222 (1969-1974) was set at a racially diverse high school in Los Angeles. Ahead of its time in terms of realism and authenticity, the show frequently dealt with topical issues such as civil rights, women’s rights, drug use, and the Vietnam War.

We don’t hear much about Room 222 these days, but the series did leave a mark on baby names. Here are three Room 222-associated debuts I’ve spotted so far:


Actor Keone Young in the TV show "Room 222" (1969-1974).
Keone Young in “Room 222

The show’s second episode, “Naked Came We Into the World” (Sept. 1969), featured a character named Howie Wong played by actor Keone (pronounced kee-oh-nee) Young. The same year, the name Keone started appearing in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1971: 5 baby boys named Keone
    • all 5 born in Hawaii
  • 1970: 6 baby boys named Keone
  • 1969: 6 baby boys named Keone [debut]
    • 5 born in Hawaii
  • 1968: unlisted
  • 1967: unlisted

Keone Young is a native of Hawaii, and the Hawaiian name Keone means “the sand” or, by extension, “the homeland.”


Actor Ta-Tanisha in the TV show "Room 222" (1969-1974).
Ta-Tanisha in “Room 222

Actress Ta-Tanisha, who played the character Pam Simpson, was featured in dozens of episodes from 1969 to 1972. (She was also on other TV shows — Mod Squad, Mission Impossible, The Partridge Family, Good Times, etc. — during the same time period.) The name Tatanisha started appearing in the data in 1970:

  • 1972: 111 baby girls named Tatanisha [peak usage]
  • 1971: 57 baby girls named Tatanisha
  • 1970: 9 baby girls named Tatanisha [debut]
  • 1969: unlisted
  • 1968: unlisted

Usage of the similar name Tanisha also rose drastically during this time:

  • 1972: 629 baby girls named Tanisha [rank: 352nd]
  • 1971: 374 baby girls named Tanisha [rank: 506th]
  • 1970: 129 baby girls named Tanisha [rank: 978th]
  • 1969: 27 baby girls named Tanisha
  • 1968: 12 baby girls named Tanisha

Ta-Tanisha was born Shirley Cummings; her stage name is based on the Swahili word tatanisha, meaning “perplexing,” “confusing.” (The translation sometimes offered to the press was “the puzzling one.”)


Actor Heshimu in the TV show "Room 222" (1969-1974).
Heshimu in “Room 222

Actor Heshimu, who played the character Jason Allen, was featured in ninety episodes from 1969 to 1974. The name Heshimu started appearing in the data in 1971:

  • 1973: 9 baby boys named Heshimu
  • 1972: 15 baby boys named Heshimu
  • 1971: 6 baby boys named Heshimu [debut]
  • 1970: unlisted
  • 1969: unlisted

Heshimu’s name is based on the Swahili word heshimu, meaning “respect.”

…Which of these three names do you like best?


P.S. I couldn’t resist scheduling this post for 2/2/2022. ;)

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