How popular is the baby name Donna 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 Donna.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Donna


Posts that Mention the Name Donna

What gave the baby name Danielle a boost in 1987?

The character Danielle/Danny from the Diet Pepsi commercial "Apt. 10-G" (1987).
“Hi, I’m Danielle. You got another Diet Pepsi?”

If the Pepsi commercial in yesterday’s post on the baby name Sanjana seemed familiar to you, there’s a reason: That commercial was a scene-for-scene remake of an award-winning Diet Pepsi commercial that premiered in the U.S. six years earlier.

The spot, called “Apartment 10-G,” first aired in 1987 — either during the Super Bowl or the Grammy Awards (my sources don’t agree). It starred Michael J. Fox as the “urban knight satisfying the thirst of [the] damsel-next-door.”

Below is the one-minute version of the commercial:

Here’s a description, in case you don’t want to watch:

A young man is alone in his apartment when there’s a knock at the door. He opens the door to find a pretty young woman, who enters and says, “Hi, I just moved in next door. Could I borrow a Diet Pepsi?” He responds, “Sure, come in” (even though she’s already in). As he heads for the kitchen, he shows his excitement with a jump and a quiet “Yes!” She is idly looking around his apartment when he reaches the fridge…only to discover an empty bottle of Diet Pepsi. He calls out, “How about something else?” She responds, “Listen, if you don’t have a Diet Pepsi…” He already has one leg out the kitchen window as he calls back, “No, I got it.” He goes out onto the fire escape — the window slams shut behind him — and jumps down to street level. It’s raining outside. He spots a vending machine selling Diet Pepsi across the street. He tries to cross, but nearly gets hit by a car, so instead he jumps roof-to-roof over the traffic to reach the vending machine. He has a can of Diet Pepsi in his hand as he climbs up the fire escape ladder. He finds the window locked. Just as the woman starts walking toward the kitchen (calling, “You okay in there?”) there’s the sound of glass shattering. The man comes out of the kitchen — soaking wet, out of breath — and hands her the can, saying, “Here’s your diet Pepsi.” Then there’s another knock at the door. The woman says, “That must be my roommate, Danny.” “Danny?” the man repeats, with a worried look on his face. A second woman suddenly comes into view behind them. She leans seductively against the wall and says, “Hi, I’m Danielle. You got another Diet Pepsi?”

(The minute-and-a-half version included a run-in with a motorcycle gang.)

So now, the big question: Did this Pepsi commercial give a boost to the baby name Danielle the same way the Lehar Pepsi commercial gave a boost to the baby name Sanjana?

It’s very possible!

The name Danielle was already well within the U.S. top-20 at that time, but it saw a conspicuous increase in usage in 1987:

  • 1989: 15,366 baby girls named Danielle [rank: 17th]
  • 1988: 16,253 baby girls named Danielle [rank: 17th]
  • 1987: 17,007 baby girls named Danielle [rank: 14th] (peak usage)
  • 1986: 14,943 baby girls named Danielle [rank: 16th]
  • 1985: 15,411 baby girls named Danielle [rank: 18th]
Graph of the usage of the baby name Danielle in the U.S. since 1880
The name Danielle saw peak usage in 1987

So far, I haven’t been able to find an explanation better than the commercial.

My next-best-guess would be actress Danielle von Zerneck, who played Donna in the 1987 movie La Bamba (with Esai Morales).

There was also a young character named Danielle on the soap opera As The World Turns at that time. I don’t think she caused the 1987 peak, but — because she was born in the storyline in October of 1983 — I do think she’s behind that steep increase in usage in 1984. (Interesting fact: Her mother, Betsy, was played by future movie star Meg Ryan.)

But, getting back to the Pepsi commercial…do you remember seeing it on television in the late ’80s? If so, do you recall whether or not it drew your attention to the name Danielle?

Sources:

Where did the baby name Esai come from in 1987?

Esai Morales as Bob Morales in La Bamba (1987)
Esai Morales as Bob Morales in “La Bamba”

The uncommon name Esai debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1987:

  • 1990: 22 baby boys named Esai
  • 1989: 34 baby boys named Esai
  • 1988: 33 baby boys named Esai
  • 1987: 14 baby boys named Esai [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Actor Esai (pronounced ee-sie) Morales, who was one of the stars of the 1987 movie La Bamba.

The movie was a biopic of rock and roll pioneer Richard Valenzuela, popularly known as Ritchie Valens (played by Lou Diamond Phillips). Esai played Ritchie’s brash older brother, Bob Morales. (The characters had different fathers, which accounts for the different surnames.)

Esai Morales, born in New York and of Puerto Rican descent, inherited his first name from his own father. The name is thought to be based on Esaias, which is a form of the Biblical name Isaiah (meaning “Yahweh is salvation” in Hebrew).

Interestingly, the character’s surname being “Morales” like his own was a factor in Esai’s decision to take the part. At the time, he was trying to choose between the role in La Bamba and a role in the Steven Spielberg movie Batteries Not Included, which he assumed would be an “instant hit.”

And I just thought to myself, there’s the commercial-looking success thing, but then there’s this thing that tugs at my heart. It made me cry. I read the story and, like, I had tears streaming down my face. […] And I saw a character with my name on it. Literally, it had my name on it. You don’t see great roles oftentime with Latino names, much less your own. You know, so I was like, you know, I’m gonna roll the dice with this one. And I think I made the right decision.

What do you think of the name Esai?

Sources: Esai Morales – Wikipedia, Esai Morales on his decades-long career in Hollywood – BEONDTV

P.S. Despite having a very short recording career, Ritchie Valens scored several hit singles, including “Donna.”

What gave the baby name Kelce a boost?

Football players Travis & Jason Kelce, (jerseys switched) in 2017
Travis & Jason Kelce, jerseys switched

The baby name Kelce has been picking up steam lately — particularly in Pennsylvania and Missouri:

  • 2020: 21 baby girls named Kelce
    • 8 born in Missouri
  • 2019: 10 baby girls named Kelce
  • 2018: 21 baby girls named Kelce
    • 6 born in Missouri, 5 born in Pennsylvania
  • 2017: 10 baby girls named Kelce
  • 2016: 5 baby girls named Kelce
  • 2015: unlisted
  • 2014: unlisted

Not only that, but it started popping up in the boys’ data just a couple of years ago:

  • 2020: 9 baby boys named Kelce
  • 2019: 10 baby boys named Kelce [debut]
  • 2018: unlisted
  • 2017: unlisted

Why all this recent interest?

Because of NFL brothers Jason and Travis Kelce (KEL-see).

Older brother Jason Kelce has played football for the Philadelphia Eagles since 2011. He won Super Bowl LII with the team in early 2018.

Younger Travis Kelce has played football for the Kansas City Chiefs since 2013. He won Super Bowl LIV with the team in early 2020. In fact, he caught one of the game’s touchdown passes.

Though the brothers have always pronounced their surname KEL-see, the surname is actually supposed to be pronounced kelse (rhymes with “else”). Here’s how Jason explained the pronunciation discrepancy:

[W]e have a really small family, we don’t have any first cousins. Somehow we got so disconnected [from the Kelce side the family] and my dad at some point, when he was working at the steel mill in Cleveland, Ohio, got tired of correcting everyone who was calling him ‘Kel-see.’

[…]

So my dad, out of pure laziness, completely changed his last name. For some reason he decided to change it and that’s what we’ve gone by our whole lives.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Kelce? (Do you like this spelling, or would you prefer something less ambiguous, like “Kelsey”?)

Update, 1/31/2023: Last weekend, the Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC Championship and the Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC Championship — so, not only are Jason and Travis are both going back to the Super Bowl, but “Donna Kelce will officially become the first mother to have two sons play against each other in the Super Bowl” (according to a tweet by the Pro Football Hall of Fame). I don’t know what year Donna was born, but I wonder if it wasn’t 1959, the year the name Donna saw peak usage thanks to a song

Sources: Travis Kelce – Wikipedia, Jason Kelce – Wikipedia, How do Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce pronounce their last name? Jason reveals the true answer
Image: © 2017 Ed Zurga/AP

Where did the baby name Deshannon come from in 1969?

Jackie DeShannon album "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" (1969).
Jackie DeShannon album

Right around the time the name Shannon was seeing a steep rise in usage, the name Deshannon debuted in the U.S. baby name data:

Girls named ShannonGirls named Deshannon
197210,965
[rank: 22nd]
14
197112,651
[rank: 21st]
12
197013,548
[rank: 22nd]
13
196910,448
[rank: 31st]
12*
19686,402
[rank: 53rd]
.
19673,446
[rank: 101st]
.
19662,992
[rank: 120th]
.
*Debut

The influence? Singer Jackie DeShannon, whose biggest hit, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” peaked at #4 on Billboard‘s “Hot 100” chart in the summer of 1969.

But this wasn’t DeShannon’s first hit. She’d already seen success with the Burt Bacharach song “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” which had peaked at #7 in the summer of 1965.

So it seems that sudden trendiness of “Shannon” was the x-factor that prepared expectant parents to see more name-potential in “DeShannon” the second time around.

The singer’s birth name was Sharon Lee Myers. She went through various stage names before settling on “Jackie DeShannon.” “Jackie” was chosen because it was gender-neutral, while “DeShannon” was created out of two earlier ideas: “Dee,” which, by itself, made the full name too close to ones already in use (like Sandra Dee and Brenda Lee), and “de Shannon,” which was often written incorrectly.

DeShannon also had a successful career as a songwriter, working with performers like Jimmy Page and Marianne Faithfull. In 1982, she received the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for “Bette Davis Eyes,” which she had co-written with Donna Weiss. (The song was a 1981 hit for singer Kim Carnes.)

How do you like DeShannon as a baby name?

Sources: What The World Needs Now Is Jackie DeShannon, Jackie DeShannon – Wikipedia