Jazz pianist and singer Nat King Cole (1919-1965) was born Nathaniel Adams Coles. He dropped the “s” from his surname early on, and acquired the “King” after forming a trio called the King Cole Trio (originally the King Cole Swingsters), which was a reference to “Old King Cole” from the nursery rhyme.
Maria, his second wife, originally went by Marie. She changed the name to Maria after she married Cole because, as she said, “[i]t sounded more lyrical.”
The two of them raised five children together:
- Carole, nicknamed “Cookie” (adopted)
- Natalie, nicknamed “Sweetie”
- Nat Kelly (adopted)
Nat, the only boy, was given the middle name Kelly in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which was his father’s birthday.
Casey Eugenia and Timolin Elizabeth were identical twin girls born in September of 1961. (I mentioned them in the celebrity baby name debuts post.) Their middle names came from two of Maria’s sisters. Casey’s first name was inspired by Charles Dillon “Casey” Stengel, the manager of the New York Yankees throughout the ’50s. Timolin’s first name was inspired by the youngest daughter of lyricist Johnny Burke*, whose song “Swinging on a Star” won an Oscar in the ’40s.
[*Burke’s four children were Reagan, Rory, Kevin, and Timolin. Reagan and Rory were female twins born in 1941 — long before the names Reagan and Rory were regularly given to baby girls. And Timolin, born in 1954, was very likely named after the Irish village of Timolin.]
- Grudens, Richard. The Music Men: The Guys who Sang with the Bands and Beyond. Stony Brook, NY: Celebrity Profiles Publishing, 1998.
- “The Nat King Cole Twins.” Ebony Aug. 1963: 106-114.
Image: © 1963 Ebony