What popularized the baby name Kylene in the late 1970s?

Kylene Barker, Miss America 1979
Kylene Barker

In 1978, after a short absence, the baby name Kylene re-emerged impressively in the U.S. baby name data. The very next year, it reached peak usage:

  • 1981: 64 baby girls named Kylene
  • 1980: 149 baby girls named Kylene [rank: 990th]
  • 1979: 205 baby girls named Kylene [rank: 779th]
  • 1978: 88 baby girls named Kylene
  • 1977: unlisted
  • 1976: 6 baby girls named Kylene

The spelling Kyleen — plus a number of similar names, such as Kylie, Kylee, Kiley, Kyley, and Kyleigh — also saw higher usage during the late 1970s.

Kylene Barker, Miss America 1979
Kylene Barker

What was drawing attention to Kylene (and like-sounding names) around that time?

My guess is Kylene Barker, the beauty queen from Virginia who was crowned Miss America 1979 (“wearing fashions she made herself”) in September of 1978.

During the talent portion of the competition, she performed an “acrobatic dance” routine in a purple leotard. One of the tunes she danced/tumbled to was the theme song from the movie Rocky.

Kylene was born Danice Kylene Barker in 1955 in the mountain town of Galax to parents Dolores and Kyle Barker. No doubt her middle name was based on her father’s first name.

What are your thoughts on the name Kylene?



  • Adapted from Kylene Barker postcard (public domain)
  • Screenshot of the TV broadcast of the 52nd Miss America pageant

2 thoughts on “What popularized the baby name Kylene in the late 1970s?

  1. I think it’s cute in a retro mid-20th century way — I think it could still work, especially since the name Kylie is so popular. I suspect the -een/ene names will be making a comeback soon. I’ve seen Darlene, Helene, and Eileen mentioned positively in recent reddit name posts and/or Behind the Name polls.

    I never knew a Kylene, but I went to high school with a Kayleen (class of 1991).

  2. I can definitely see Kylene used as an alternative/variation on Kylie. I actually like better myself, but I tend to like names that end with the “een” sounds.

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