We already know that a character from the TV show Bewitched popularized the baby name Darrin (and similar names like Darren, Daren, and Darin) in the 1960s.
But that wasn’t the first time one of these names was influenced by pop culture.
- 1924: unlisted
- 1923: 14 baby boys named Daren
- 1922: 35 baby boys named Daren [debut]
- 1921: unlisted
- 1920: unlisted
Here’s the SSDI data for the period, for a different perspective:
- 1924: 5 people named Daren
- 1923: 12 people named Daren
- 1922: 30 people named Daren
- 1921: 2 people named Daren
- 1920: 1 person named Daren
What caused that spike in the usage?
Although Grey was well-known for his Westerns, this one wasn’t a Western. Instead it was a morality-heavy drama about a wounded World War I veteran named Daren Lane* who, upon returning to his hometown, began crusading against the declining morals of 1920s America.
The modern reviews I’ve read have been mixed or negative, and even contemporary reviewers did not seem impressed. One writer from the 1920s noted that the book was “mighty good reading as a denunciation, but not so much as a novel.”
So The Day of the Beast wasn’t a high point in Grey’s career, but it made enough of an impression upon readers to influence American baby names.
What are your thoughts on the baby name Daren? Which spelling do you prefer?
Source: “Book Reviews and Literary Notes.” Oakland Tribune 12 Nov. 1922: 42.