The name Dagmar (based on the Old Norse words dagr, meaning “day,” and mær, meaning “maid”) peaked in usage in the mid-1910s. But it returned for a secondary peak in 1951:
1953: 16 baby girls named Dagmar
1952: 21 baby girls named Dagmar
1951: 28 baby girls named Dagmar
1950: 18 baby girls named Dagmar
1949: 15 baby girls named Dagmar
What gave it a boost that particular year?
An American actress known simply as Dagmar. She became one of television’s first stars — and its very first sex symbol — in 1951.
She was born Virginia Ruth Egnor in West Virginia in 1921. When she began modeling and acting in the 1940s, she adopted the stage name “Jennie Lewis.”
But that stage name was changed to “Dagmar” when she was hired to appear on NBC’s Broadway Open House (1950–51), which was the first late-night variety show on network television. The bosomy* actress was instructed by the show’s host, Jerry Lester, to “act dumb” on the air. Justin Peters of Slate described the Dagmar segments of Broadway Open House as “gleefully sexist and unfunny, yet somehow redeemed by Dagmar’s odd, icy sense of dignity.”
Dagmar soon became more popular than the host himself. Lester ended up quitting, and Dagmar hosted the show during its final month on the air.
Around the same time, she began appearing on other TV variety shows (like Texaco Star Theater and the Bob Hope Show). She even landed on the the cover of Life magazine.
What are your thoughts on the name Dagmar? Would you use it for a modern-day baby?
*Fun fact: The two conical front bumper guards of various ’50s Cadillacs (and other GM cars) — originally modeled after artillery shells — came to be known as “Dagmar bumpers” or simply “Dagmars” in reference to the actress.
We looked at the top baby name rises last month, so this month let’s look at the opposite: the top drops. That is, the baby names that decreased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next in the Social Security Administration’s data.
Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year slides in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Clementine dropped 68% and usage of the boy name Neil dropped 76%.)
The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does become more accurate in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about a few of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it — leave a comment and let us know why you think any of these names saw dropped in usage when they did.
Sure, a rose by just any other name would not smell as sweet. But what if the name were as cool as “Madame Azélie Imbert” or “Victor Emmanuel”?
Other intriguing rose names I found in the EveryRose.com database include:
Fraulein Octavia Hesse
Ghislaine de Feligonde
Hawaiian Queen Martha
Jan and Rick
Mrs Erskine Pembroke Thom
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably now wondering: So how can I name a cultivar of my very own?
Well, just grab your credit card and get in touch with a company that hybridizes roses. Some charge as little as several thousand dollars; others ask for as much as $75,000 to name a rose.
If you don’t have that kind of money lying around, and you happen to live in British Columbia, you may be able to name a rose for free. Just submit a name to the GardenWise Name a Rose contest before the end of August.