What brought the baby name Lancer back in 1968?

The characters Johnny Madrid Lancer and Scott Lancer from the TV series "Lancer" (1968-1970).
Johnny Madrid and Scott from “Lancer

The name Lancer returned to the U.S. baby name data (after a long absence) in 1968, and two years later it reached peak usage:

  • 1971: 17 baby boys named Lancer
  • 1970: 31 baby boys named Lancer [peak]
  • 1969: 19 baby boys named Lancer
  • 1968: 10 baby boys named Lancer
  • 1967: unlisted
  • 1966: unlisted

What brought it back?

A TV western called Lancer (1968-1970), logically enough.

It was set in the 1870s, and the main characters were adult half-brothers named Johnny Madrid (played by James Stacy) and Scott (played by Wayne Maunder). They shared a father, but were otherwise unalike: Johnny was a gunfighter and drifter from Mexico; Scott was an educated Civil War veteran from New England.

They met for the first time in the first episode, when their father, Murdoch Lancer, summoned them to his 100,000-acre ranch in California and offered them each one-third of the ranch in exchange for help protecting the land and livestock from bandits.

Title of the TV series "Lancer" (1968-1970)

The series only lasted two seasons, but was popular enough to during that time to affect several other baby names as well.

The Lancer-like name Lance saw a sharp rise in usage while the show was on the air:

  • 1971: 3,180 baby boys named Lance [rank: 98th]
  • 1970: 4,166 baby boys named Lance [rank: 76th] (peak)
  • 1969: 3,030 baby boys named Lance [rank: 103rd]
  • 1968: 1,995 baby boys named Lance [rank: 144th]
  • 1967: 1,804 baby boys named Lance [rank: 152nd]
Graph of the usage of the baby name Lance in the U.S. since 1880.
Usage of the baby name Lance

The name Johnny, which was generally declining in usage during the second half of the 20th century, saw a brief turnaround in 1969 and 1970:

  • 1971: 3,939 baby boys named Johnny [rank: 74th]
  • 1970: 4,440 baby boys named Johnny [rank: 65th]
  • 1969: 4,217 baby boys named Johnny [rank: 67th]
  • 1968: 4,053 baby boys named Johnny [rank: 69th]
  • 1967: 4,170 baby boys named Johnny [rank: 70th]
Graph of the usage of the baby name Johnny in the U.S. since 1880.
Usage of the baby name Johnny

And the name Scott, which was about to experience a similar slide, saw increased usage for several years before its decline began:

  • 1971: 30,919 baby boys named Scott [rank: 10th]
  • 1970: 28,588 baby boys named Scott [rank: 12th]
  • 1969: 28,668 baby boys named Scott [rank: 12th]
  • 1968: 26,029 baby boys named Scott [rank: 14th]
  • 1967: 25,537 baby boys named Scott [rank: 16th]
Graph of the usage of the baby name Scott in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Scott

But there’s more to the story on Scott. See how the usage popped up even higher in 1971? That extra uptick has a separate explanation, which we’ll get to in a few days…

Sources: Lancer – TV Western – Six-gun Justice, SSA

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