What popularized the baby name Torey in 1959?

The character Torey Peck from the TV series "Peck's Bad Girl" (1959).
Torey Peck from “Peck’s Bad Girl”

According to the U.S. baby name data, the name Torey shot up in usage for baby girls in 1959:

  • 1961: 20 baby girls named Torey
  • 1960: 51 baby girls named Torey
  • 1959: 103 baby girls named Torey [peak usage]
  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: unlisted

Variant spellings of the name — like Tori, Torie, Tory, Torri, Torrie, Torre, and Torry — also saw higher usage that year. Torri, in fact, was the fastest-rising girl name of 1959.

To explain this one fully, we need to start with Wisconsin newspaper publisher-turned-politician George Wilbur Peck (1840-1916), who wrote a series of humorous “Peck’s Bad Boy” stories starting in the 1880s.

The main character, Henry Peck, was mischievous trickster. In fact, he became so well known in the late 1800s that the phrase “Peck’s Bad Boy” entered the language; Merriam-Webster defines it as “one whose bad behavior is a source of embarrassment or annoyance.”

The stories were later adapted for the big screen, with young Jackie Cooper playing the part of Henry. But in one of the movies, Peck’s Bad Girl (1918), the character was turned into a girl named Minnie Peck.

The main character was once again a girl in the single-season TV sitcom Peck’s Bad Girl, which aired originally from May to August, 1959. This time around, the “bad girl” was named Torey Peck, and she wasn’t mischievous so much as tomboyish. She was played by Patty McCormack of Bad Seed fame.

The show only lasted 13 episodes, but that was long enough to give Torey a sizeable boost in usage. (No doubt the rhyming name Lori, which was very trendy in the 1950s, had helped set the stage for Torey.)

Do you like the name Torey? Which spelling do you prefer?

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2 thoughts on “What popularized the baby name Torey in 1959?

  1. How have I never come across this amazing blog before?! I’m so excited to go back and read all of your entries, Nancy. Baby names have been my special interest since I was 6 years old, and I often dig into these mysteries, too. I was so upset when IMDB got rid of the ability to search by character names. It was so helpful for satisfying my curiosity about why a particular name suddenly spiked.

  2. Thank you so much for the kind words. :)

    I was upset about that as well! I hope IMDb brings that character search functionality back one day, it was really convenient.

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