What gave the baby name Vonetta a boost in 1973?

Actress Vonetta McGee in the movie "Shaft in Africa" (1973).
Vonetta McGee in “Shaft in Africa

According to the U.S. baby name data, the name Vonetta saw peak usage in 1973:

  • 1975: 111 baby girls named Vonetta
  • 1974: 126 baby girls named Vonetta [rank: 977th]
  • 1973: 161 baby girls named Vonetta [rank: 819th] (peak)
  • 1972: 32 baby girls named Vonetta
  • 1971: 7 baby girls named Vonetta

The spelling variant Vonnetta debuted in 1973 as well.

What was drawing attention to the name Vonetta around that time?

California-born actress Vonetta McGee, best known for her work in blaxploitation films such as Blacula (1972), Hammer (1972), and Shaft in Africa (1973).

Even more notable, perhaps, is the fact that Vonetta (and her name!) were featured on the covers of several African-American magazines in 1973: Jet in June, Jet again in September, and Ebony in November.

Vonetta McGee on the cover of "Jet" magazine (Sept. 20, 1973)
Vonetta McGee on the cover of “Jet

Interestingly, McGee’s full name at birth was Lawrence Vonetta McGee. She was named after her father (just like Barack Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham).

What are your thoughts on the name Vonetta?


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