How popular is the baby name Bonanza 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 Bonanza.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Bonanza


Posts that Mention the Name Bonanza

How did “Battlestar Galactica” influence baby names?

The TV show "Battlestar Galactica" (1978-1979)

Today, Battlestar Galactica is a sci-fi media franchise. But the original TV series wasn’t terribly successful — it aired on ABC for a single season (September of 1978 to April of 1979) before being canceled.

Still, the initial show managed to have an impact on American baby names. Here are the names that Battlestar Galactica characters managed to influence in the late 1970s:

  • Adama — from Commander Adama (played by Lorne Greene of Bonanza fame). The name Adama debuted (for boys) in 1978.
  • Apollo — from Captain Apollo, the son of Commander Adama. The name Apollo saw a rise in usage in 1978, and then-peak usage in 1979. (That peak was eclipsed in 2002 after speed skater Apolo Ohno became famous.)
  • Athena and Maren — from the daughter of Commander Adama, Lieutenant Athena (played by Maren Jensen). The name Athena saw a spike in usage 1979, and Maren nearly tripled in usage the same year.
  • Cassiopeia — from the character Cassiopeia, who was a “socialator” (a.k.a. prostitute). The name Cassiopeia debuted in 1979.
  • Starbuck — from Lieutenant Starbuck. The name Starbuck was a one-hit wonder in 1979. Both the name of the Lieutanant and the name of the famous coffee chain were inspired by the Moby Dick character Starbuck.
  • Tigh — from Colonel Tigh (played by Terry Carter, whose stage name was inspired in part by the comic strip Terry & the Pirates). The name Tigh debuted in 1979, and the spelling Tighe saw peak usage the same year.
The character Colonel Tigh from the TV series "Battlestar Galactica" (1978-1979).

Would you consider using any of the names above?

Source: Battlestar Galactica – IMDb

Interesting one-hit wonder names in the U.S. baby name data

tulips

They came, they went, and they never came back!

These baby names are one-hit wonders in the U.S. baby name data. That is, they’ve only popped up once, ever, in the entire dataset of U.S. baby names (which accounts for all names given to at least 5 U.S. babies per year since 1880).

There are thousands of one-hit wonders in the dataset, but the names below have interesting stories behind their single appearance, so these are the one-hits I’m writing specific posts about. Just click on a name to read more.

1890s

1900s

  • (none yet)

1910s

1920s

1930s

1940s

1950s

1960s

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

2010s

2020s

  • (none yet)

As I discover (and write about) more one-hit wonders in the data, I’ll add the names/links to this page. In the meanwhile, do you have any favorite one-hit wonder baby names?

P.S. You might also be interested in this list of the top one-hit wonder baby names since 1880

Where did the baby name Ziva come from?

Actress Ziva Rodann
Ziva Rodann

The exotic name Ziva first showed up in the U.S. baby name data during the 1960s:

  • 1962: 9 baby girls named Ziva
  • 1961: 8 baby girls named Ziva
  • 1960: 6 baby girls named Ziva [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

What was the influence?

Israeli-born actress Ziva Rodann, who appeared in movies and on TV from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s.

Her movies included the The Story of Ruth* (1960) and The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960) with Mickey Rooney. In terms of television, she could be seen on episodes of shows like Bonanza, Have Gun – Will Travel, and Batman (on which she twice played the role of Nefertiti).

Her first name is a feminine form of the Hebrew name Ziv, which means “bright, radiant.”

The name dropped out of the data after that initial run, but returned in 2005 — the year the popular TV series NCIS introduced an Israeli character named Ziva David (played by Chilean actress Cote de Pablo†). Usage of the name increased quite a bit starting in 2009 — the year Ziva David was held captive in Somalia.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Ziva?

Sources: Ziva Rodann – IMDb, Ziv – Behind the Name

*The star of the movie was fellow Israeli actress Elana Eden, and the baby name Elana correspondingly saw an uptick in usage in 1960.
†Cote/Coté is a common Chilean nickname for María José.

What turned Bonanza into a baby name?

Title of the TV western "Bonanza" (1959-1973)

In mining, a bonanza (“prosperity” in Spanish) refers to a rich vein of ore. The word sometimes refers specifically to the Comstock Lode — a lode of silver ore discovered in western Utah Territory in 1859.

This “Comstock Lode” definition is where the TV western Bonanza got its name, as the show was set in the same place and time period (Utah Territory in the 1860s).

The series focused on the Cartwright family — father Ben and sons Adam, Eric, and Joseph — who lived on a ranch near the Virginia City (located in what is now the state of Nevada).

Bonanza started airing in 1959, and, one year later, enough baby boys in the U.S. were named Bonanza for the name to debut in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 7 baby boys named Bonanza [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

Though Bonanza (1959-1973) was one of the longest-running westerns on television, that was the first and only time the name appeared in the data.

The series did have a strong influence on several other names, though.

Lorne Greene

One of those names is Lorne. Canadian actor Lorne Green played the show’s thrice-widowed patriarch, Ben Cartwright. Here’s what happened to the usage of the baby name Lorne during the early years of the show:

  • 1962: 171 baby boys named Lorne [rank: 595th]
  • 1961: 92 baby boys named Lorne [rank: 795th]
  • 1960: 49 baby boys named Lorne
  • 1959: 24 baby boys named Lorne
  • 1958: 25 baby boys named Lorne
Pernell Roberts

Another is Pernell. Actor Pernell Roberts played the eldest Cartwright son, Adam. Here’s how the usage of the name Pernell was affected:

  • 1962: 128 baby boys named Pernell [rank: 687th]
  • 1961: 68 baby boys named Pernell [rank: 930th]
  • 1960: 37 baby boys named Pernell
  • 1959: 23 baby boys named Pernell
  • 1958: 13 baby boys named Pernell

Both Lorne and Pernell entered the top 1,000 for the first time in 1961.

Later on in the series, there’s Jamie. Teenage orphan Jamie Hunter (played by Mitch Vogel) was introduced as a new character in mid-1970. He was adopted by Ben Cartwright during an episode that aired at the end of the next year.

Male usage of the name Jamie increased enough in 1971 that the name was boosted into the boys’ top 100 for the first time. (It remained there throughout the 1970s.)

  • 1972: 3,679 baby boys named Jamie [rank: 72nd]
  • 1971: 3,233 baby boys named Jamie [rank: 96th]
  • 1970: 2,642 baby boys named Jamie [rank: 125th]
  • 1969: 1,567 baby boys named Jamie [rank: 179th]
  • 1968: 1,224 baby boys named Jamie [rank: 193rd]

Have you ever watched Bonanza? Are there any other notable names I might be missing here? Please leave a comment!

Update, 5/31/2015: Usage of the baby name Tessa more than tripled from 1963 to 1964. Looks like the jump was caused by an episode of Bonanza called “Bullet for a Bride” (Feb. 1964) which featured a character named Tessa Caldwell.

Update, 3/17/2018: The name Petina debuted in 1965 thanks to a single-episode Bonanza character named Petina, an aerialist who appeared in “The Deadliest Game” (Feb. 1965).

Source: Bonanza – Wikipedia