How popular is the baby name Charisse 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 Charisse.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Charisse


Posts that Mention the Name Charisse

How did Kipchoge Keino influence baby names?

Kenyan distance runner Kipchoge Keino (in 1972)
Kipchoge “Kip” Keino

Kenyan middle- and long-distance runner Kipchoge Keino (pronounced kip-CHOH-gay KAY-noh) won a total of four medals at two different Summer Olympics: the 1968 Games in Mexico City and the 1972 Games in Munich.

Kip Keino’s most memorable race was his unlikely win in the 1,500 metre in ’68, but Kipchoge Keino‘s names — both first and last — didn’t enter the U.S. baby name data until ’72:

YearNumber of KipchogesNumber of Keinos
1974.9 baby boys
1973.13 baby boys
19727 baby boys [debut]19 baby boys [debut]
1971..
1970..

He won a gold and a silver in ’72, but a more important factor (in terms of baby names) may have been the naming climate in the U.S. in the early ’70s. A growing number of African-Americans were actively looking for African baby names at that time. (Check out this “Names from Africa” post for more.)

The name Kipchoge, a one-hit wonder in the data, means “born near the store for maize” in the Nandi language.

After retiring from competition, Kip Keino — whose full name is actually Hezekiah Kipchoge Keino — continued to work in sports. In the meanwhile, he and his wife Phyllis took in more than 100 orphaned children (and had seven of their own).

Each child has been given a name in English and Nandi, Kip’s native tongue. They include Claire/Cherop (“born when it’s raining”), Angela/Chepngetrik (“born when the cows go grazing”) and Susan/Chepchirchir (“born in a big hurry”).

For this and other humanitarian work, Keino has been honored in various ways, such as by winning the (very first) Olympic Laurel in 2016.

Sources:

P.S. Two other people who have inspired dual first-and-last name debuts are Cyd Charisse and Pier Angeli.

Where did the baby name Darina come from?

The character Anna La Darina from the movie "The Unfinished Dance" (1947).
Anna La Darina from “The Unfinished Dance

In 1948, the baby name Darina first appeared in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1950: 5 baby girls named Darina
  • 1949: unlisted
  • 1948: 7 baby girls named Darina [debut]
  • 1947: unlisted
  • 1946: unlisted

Where did it come from?

My guess is the movie The Unfinished Dance (1947).

The main character was a young girl in ballet school named Meg. She idolized the head of the school, Ariane Bouchet (played by Cyd Charisse), so when she learned that Ariane would not be dancing the lead in the upcoming production of Swan Lake — that the part would instead go to visiting prima ballerina Anna La Darina — she was not pleased. In fact, she set out to sabotage “La Darina.”

But things went too far: while La Darina was dancing a solo sequence on opening night, Meg went for the light switch…but ended up pulling the trap door lever instead. La Darina fell through the stage, injured her spine, and was told that she would never dance again.

By the end of the movie, Meg discovered that she’d been idolizing the wrong person all along. Ariane was revealed to be self-absorbed, whereas La Darina proved to be generous and forgiving.

What are your thoughts on the name Darina?

Sources: The Unfinished Dance (1947) – IMDB, The Unfinished Dance (1947) – TCM

How did Angelina Jolie influence baby names?

Angelina Jolie in "Tomb Raider."
Angelina Jolie in “Tomb Raider

Actress Angelina Jolie was a rising star in the late ’90s and early 2000s, thanks to movies like Gia (1998), Girl, Interrupted (1999), Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).

But she wasn’t just becoming a familiar face in the movie theaters — she was also having a strong influence on baby names. In 2000, the name Jolie broke into the U.S. top 1,000 for the first time, and, a year later, the name Angelina entered the top 100 for the first time:

Angelina usage (ranking)Jolie usage (ranking)
20034,271 baby girls (71st)377 baby girls (691st)
20023,979 baby girls (74th)412 baby girls (620th)
20013,368 baby girls (93rd)385 baby girls (655th)
20002,140 baby girls (157th)275 baby girls (820th)
19991,327 baby girls (237th)152 baby girls (1,241st)
19981,167 baby girls (268th)109 baby girls (1,536th)

Best of all, though, are the debuts of Anjolina and Anjolie — names that cleverly blend “Angelina” with “Jolie” — in 2000. I know of other actresses (e.g., Cyd Charisse, Pier Angeli) who popularized both their first and last names, but Angie is the only one I know of to inspire mash-ups like this.

Which name do you like better for a baby girl, Angelina or Jolie? (Or do you prefer one of the portmanteaus?)

Source: Angelina Jolie – Rotten Tomatoes

Where did the baby name Chemise come from in 1958?

Chemise dress by Cardin (1957)
Chemise dress by Cardin

The name Chemise first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1958:

  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 7 baby girls named Chemise [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted

At first I didn’t think much of it, as chemise is an old French word (originally for a woman’s undergarment) that happens to have a pleasant sound: sheh-MEEZ or sheh-MEES (similar to Charisse). Seeing it pop up in the ’50s data didn’t really surprise me.

But then I did some research…and discovered a fascinating bit of fashion history.

For most of the ’50s, the dominant silhouette in ladies’ fashion was an hourglass shape that included defined waists and full skirts.

But in 1957 specifically, several high-fashion designers (including Balenciaga, Givenchy, and Laroche) shook things up by presenting dresses that hung loose from the shoulder and were not cinched at the waist.

These shapeless “chemise” dresses — sometimes called “bag” or “sack” dresses — ended up being a hot topic in the American press during the last months of 1957 and throughout 1958. Supporters praised chemises for being modern and simple; detractors called them ungainly and ugly.

Perhaps even more importantly, the controversy inspired the novelty song “No Chemise, Please” [vid] by Gerry Granahan. It was popular over the summer of 1958.

After a while, the debate died down and the silhouette became accepted (and eventually mainstream). But not before it had given the French word chemise lots of extra exposure. And this extra exposure ended up having a (slight) effect on American baby names, resulting in that 1958 debut in the data.

So what do you think of Chemise as a baby name? (How about as a dress style?)

Sources: Balenciaga – FIDM Museum & Galleries, Chemise dress – Objects – RISD Museum, Caftan Liberation: How an Ancient Fashion Set Modern Women Free

Image: © 1957 Life

What turned Kelly into a girl name in the 1950s?

kelly and me. movie, 1957, dog

During the first half of the 20th century, the name Kelly was more of a boy name than a girl name. That is, it was given far more often to baby boys than to baby girls.

But things changed in the 1950s, when the overall usage of Kelly began to rise quickly — and rise faster for girls than for boys. The first year that more girls than boys were named Kelly was 1957:

Year# Girls Named Kelly# Boys Named Kelly
19596,379 (rank: 74th)2,436 (rank: 142nd)
19584,471 (rank: 108th)2,299 (rank: 148th)
19571,907 (rank: 187th)1,868 (rank: 167th)
1956831 (rank: 310th)1,472 (rank: 189th)
1955540 (rank: 380th)1,251 (rank: 204th)
1954455 (rank: 406th)960 (rank: 225th)
1953226 (rank: 590th)845 (rank: 232nd)

Even though the gender switch happened in 1957, usage for boys continued to rise for several more years. Only in 1962 then did the two trajectories finally start to diverge.

So what’s behind both the popularization and feminization of the name Kelly in the 1950s? There seem to be at least three different influences (and possibly others that I haven’t discovered yet). Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • Grace Kelly: actress, most popular around 1955/1956
  • Kelly and Me: movie, released in 1957
  • Bachelor Father: television show, aired from 1957 to 1962

I have a big post about Grace Kelly-inspired baby names scheduled for tomorrow, so for now I’ll just say that, if she was an influence here, she wouldn’t be the first famous actress to inspire parents to start using her surname as a girl name. Before her was Janet Gaynor, June Allyson, Cyd Charisse, Debra Paget, Denise Darcel, Pier Angeli, etc.

The movie Kelly and Me, which co-starred Piper Laurie, is weirdly reminiscent of the 2008 movie Marley and Me. Both films feature a male dog as a main character, and both titular names saw increased usage as baby names — particularly girl names — the years the movies were released. Apparently neither the species nor the gender of the character mattered much to parents. (Here’s the popularity graph for Marley.)

The TV show Bachelor Father focused on a wealthy Beverly Hills attorney named Bentley Gregg who is raising his orphaned teenage niece, a female Kelly. The show clearly gave the name Bentley a boost in the late ’50s and early ’60s, nudging it into the top 1,000 for the first time in 1961, so no doubt it also helped American audiences see Kelly as a nice name for a daughter.

Do you like the name Kelly? Do you like it more as a girl name or as a boy name? (Or does it not matter to you?)