What gave the baby name Soleil a boost in 1985?

The character Punky Brewster (played by Soleil Moon Frye) from the TV series "Punky Brewster" (1984-1988)
Soleil Moon Frye as Punky Brewster

In 1985, the usage of the baby name Soleil — which is pronounced soh-lay, roughly — nearly quintupled:

  • 1987: 18 baby girls named Soleil
  • 1986: 19 baby girls named Soleil
  • 1985: 29 baby girls named Soleil
  • 1984: 6 baby girls named Soleil
  • 1983: unlisted


Because of young actress Soleil Moon Frye.

She was the star of the memorable children’s TV series Punky Brewster, which began airing on NBC in September of 1984.

The show was about a feisty, colorfully-dressed young girl named Penelope “Punky” Brewster. After being abandoned by her parents, Punky was begrudgingly taken in by a cranky widower named Henry Warnimont (played by George Gaynes). Henry eventually warmed to Punky and, in the penultimate* episode of the second season, he legally adopted her.

In mid-1985, the Washington Post called Soleil Moon Frye’s name “peculiar” and offered this explanation:

Soleil’s mother said her daughter was scheduled for a July birthday. When she showed up in August, Frye said she picked “Soleil” (French for “sun”) because “August was the month of the sun” and “Moon” because she liked the lyrics from a song in “Annie Get Your Gun”: “I’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.”

Recently, Frye was quoted as saying: “I love having a unique name.”

Indeed, she’s continued the tradition with her own four children: daughters Poet and Jagger, and sons Lyric and Story.

What are your thoughts on the name Soleil?

*The final episode of Punky Brewster‘s second season dealt with the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, which had occurred fewer than six weeks earlier. The episode featured astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (as himself).


P.S. Punky Brewster’s dog Brandon was named after Brandon Tartikoff, who was the president of NBC’s entertainment division during the 1980s.

4 thoughts on “What gave the baby name Soleil a boost in 1985?

  1. We are experiencing a similar boost here in Italy because of Soleil Anastasia Sorge, an Italian-American influencer.

  2. I think it’s a pretty name, but a little silly with Moon as the middle name. But that’s probably an advantage when you’re a celebrity. The musician Rhett Miller (Old 97’s) has a daughter named Soleil, born 2006. She’s the only other person named Soleil of whom I am aware, besides Frye.

  3. @Ghebuz – We’ll have to keep an eye out for Soleil in the Italian rankings!

    @Sharky – Yes, I think names that stand out are definitely an advantage if you’re a celeb, or trying to become one. (Busy Philipps comes to mind — I don’t really know why she’s famous, but I can’t forget that name.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.