How popular is the baby name Aquanette in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Aquanette.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Aquanette


Posts that Mention the Name Aquanette

Mystery baby name: LaQuita

When the popularity of a particular baby name spikes, there’s always an explanation.

Most of the time, the explanation isn’t hard to come up with. Hundreds of baby girls were named Rhiannon after Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon was released in 1976, dozens of baby boys were named Rambo after the Rambo movies started coming out in the early 1980s, and so forth.

Sometimes, the explanation isn’t as conspicuous. I didn’t immediately see the connection between the name Aquanette and B-movie actress Burnu Acquanetta, for instance. Only after mulling it over for a while was I able to link the name Kasara to a long-forgotten Lisa Lisa song.

Today’s name belongs in that latter group. In fact, the explanation for today’s name is so inconspicuous that I haven’t been able to piece it together, even after months of trying.

So I’m giving up. I’m just going to post what I know and hope that some wise soul leaves a comment that helps me unravel the mystery. :)

The name is Laquita. (It’s often written LaQuita in obituaries.) It debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1930, coming out of nowhere to be given to an impressive 68 baby girls that year.

laquita popularity graph

Now, the number 68 might seem trivial. Today’s most popular names are given to tens of thousands of babies each, after all. As far as newbie names go, though, 68 is huge. Especially when you’re talking about the early 20th century. Here’s some context:

  • Top debut names of 1926: Narice, 13; Bibb, 15
  • Top debut names of 1927: Sunya, 14; Bidwell, 14
  • Top debut names of 1928: Joreen, 22; Alfread & Brevard, 9
  • Top debut names of 1929: Jeannene, 26; Donnald, Edsol, Rhys & Wolfgang, 8
  • Top debut names of 1930: Laquita, 68; Shogo, 11
  • Top debut names of 1931: Joanie, 12; Rockne, 17
  • Top debut names of 1932: Carolann, Delano & Jenine, 11; Alvyn, Avelardo, Elena, Mannon & Wenford, 7
  • Top debut names of 1933: Gayleen, 23; Skippy, 10
  • Top debut names of 1934: Carollee & Janean, 12; Franchot, 9

Laquita jumped into the top 1,000 right away, ranking 874th. It remained there for the next three years.

Here’s a final fact that could be helpful: None of the 28 1930-Laquitas listed in the SSDI were born during the first four months of the year. The name starts to show up in May, with 3 Laquitas born that month. This may mean that a mid-year event triggered the spike.

Ideas?

Where did the baby name Acquanetta come from?

Burnu Acquanetta

Back in the 1940s and early 1950s, an actress called Burnu Acquanetta — sometimes billed simply as “Acquanetta” — starred in a string of campy B-movies. She played an ape-woman in Captive Wild Woman (1943) and Jungle Woman (1944), a leopard-woman in Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1946), and a native girl in Lost Continent (1951).

As a result, the rare name Acquanetta began popping up in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1940s:

  • 1948: 12 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1947: 5 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1946: 13 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1945: 6 baby girls named Acquanetta
  • 1944: 6 baby girls named Acquanetta [debut]
  • 1943: unlisted
  • 1942: unlisted

At the height of the name’s popularity in the early 1950s, the variants Aquanetta and Acquanette popped up. Later the same decade, we see the very Aqua Net-like Aquanette.

So what’s the origin of “Acquanetta”?

A LIFE article from 1942 stated that both of Acquanetta’s parents were Native American and that her surname meant “laughing water.” Her 2004 obituary in The Independent says she claimed to be “part-Arapaho Indian and part-English aristocrat” and that her name means “burning fire, deep water.”

But a Jet article from the early ’50s tells us the truth: Burnu Acquanetta’s legal name was Mildred Davenport. Census records show that she was born in South Carolina and raised in Pennsylvania. (So was her brother, Horace Davenport, who became the first African-American judge in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.)

The stage names “Burnu” and “Acquanetta” aren’t genuine Native American names at all, then, but fanciful creations based on the words burn and aqua. They must have sounded exotic enough to pass as Native American back in the 1940s, though.

What are your thoughts on the name Acquanetta?

Sources:

  • Acquanetta.” Independent 19 Aug. 2004.
  • “Hollywood Jungle Girl.” Jet 14 Feb. 1952: 58-62.
  • “Venezuelan Volcano.” Life 24 Aug. 1942: 57.

Image: © 1952 Jet