How popular is the baby name Gene 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 Gene.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Gene


Posts that Mention the Name Gene

Where did the baby name Judaline come from in 1949?

The character Judy Foster from the movie "A Date with Judy" (1948).
Judy singing “Judaline”

The baby name Judaline has appeared in the U.S. baby name data just once so far, in 1949:

  • 1951: unlisted
  • 1950: unlisted
  • 1949: 7 baby girls named Judaline [debut]
  • 1948: unlisted
  • 1947: unlisted

Where did it come from?

A song…by way of a movie.

The musical comedy A Date with Judy (1948) — based on the 1940s radio sitcom of the same name — starred Jane Powell as teenager Judy Foster.

In the film, the song “Judaline” [vid] was sung by Judy, alternating with her boyfriend and a male quartet. It was reprised later on as “Judaline Serenade,” [vid] sung outside Judy’s bedroom window by the boyfriend and a different male quartet.

The character wasn’t actually named Judaline, though. (And neither was the original radio character.)

The song “Judaline” was written in 1943, after songwriters Don Raye and Gene de Paul learned that The Wizard of Oz (1939) director Victor Fleming had given Judy Garland the nickname ‘Judaline’ during filming. The song was originally intended for the 1944 movie Broadway Rhythm, but didn’t show up on a soundtrack until A Date with Judy came long at the end of the decade.

What do you think of the baby name Judaline? Do you like it as much as the more popular -line names (e.g., Caroline, Madeline, Adeline)?

Sources:

P.S. The similar name Judalon was one-hit wonder several years later…

Where did the baby name Deltina come from in 1956?

deltina, 1956, baby name
Deltina in the news (late April, 1956)

The name Deltina was in the U.S. baby name data for one year only in the mid-1950s:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: 6 baby girls named Deltina [debut]
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: unlisted

Why? Because of a sad news story.

On March 24, 1956, 7-year-old Deltina “Tina” Norvall of Tennessee got too close to a burning trash pile. A spark from the flame landed on her dress, the dress caught fire, and she received third-degree burns to over 65% of her body.

She had two major skin graft operations — one with the help of a donor, Pfc. Gene E. McDonald (pictured above). Ultimately, though, neither operation was successful. Deltina died on May 12.

Deltina…was happily munching a cherry popsicle seconds before her death. She had craved the treat for days. She looked at a friend, Mrs. Mary Summers, who had brought her the popsicle, and said: “I feel so funny. Something is happening.” She closed her eyes and died.

Newspapers nationwide covered the story, but Nashville newspaper The Tennessean followed Deltina’s seven-week ordeal particularly closely.

(It looks like her name was inspired by the middle name of her father, William Delton Norvall, who had drowned while swimming less than a year earlier, tragically.)

What are your thoughts on the baby name Deltina?

Source: “Plucky Little Girl Loses Fight Of Life.” Lubbock Morning Avalanche 14 May 1956: 8.

What popularized the baby name Laura?

Laura movie poster, 1940s

In the early 1880s, Laura was a top-20 name in the United States. From the mid-1880s onward, though, the name slowly sank in popularity. It even slipped out of the top 100 for a decade. But then, in 1945, Laura suddenly changed directions and started rising:

  • 1947: 5,051 baby girls named Laura [rank: 74th]
  • 1946: 4,478 baby girls named Laura [rank: 75th]
  • 1945: 3,589 baby girls named Laura [rank: 77th]
  • 1944: 2,243 baby girls named Laura [rank: 119th]
  • 1943: 2,391 baby girls named Laura [rank: 117th]

What happened in the mid-1940s to change the fate of Laura?

The one-two punch of the 1944 film noir Laura and — probably more importantly — the 1945 hit song “Laura,” which was created from the film’s theme song.

The movie starred Gene Tierney as the title character, Laura Hunt, who was believed to have been murdered for most of the film. The police detective looking into the murder, Mark McPherson (played by Dana Andrews), slowly became obsessed with Laura over the course of the investigation.

The film’s theme song, composed by David Raksin, lent “a haunted, nostalgic, regretful cast to everything it play[ed] under,” according to Roger Ebert. Here’s what it sounds like:

After the film was released, lyricist Johnny Mercer was asked to add words to the tune. His lyrics described Laura “through a series of elusive attributes: a face in the misty light, footsteps down the hall, a floating laugh, and as a woman on a passing train.”

Once there were words, various singers began recording and releasing their own versions of “Laura.” Five of these renditions reached top-10 status on the pop charts during 1945; the one sung by Woodrow “Woody” Herman (below) ended up selling more than a million copies.

The song has since become a jazz standard.

Fifteen years later, in the summer of 1960, the teenage tragedy song “Tell Laura I Love Her” by Ray Peterson reached #7 on Billboard‘s Hot 100. This second Laura-song gave the name an extra boost from 1959 to 1960.

And did you notice that intriguing dip in usage from 1965 to 1967? There’s a reason for that, too, but I’ll save the explanation for tomorrow’s post

Sources: Laura (1944) – TCM.com, Laura (1945) – Jazz Standards, Laura (1945 song) – Wikipedia, Laura movie review – Roger Ebert, Tell Laura I Love Her – Songfacts.com

Name quotes #84: Al, Gene, Sonatine

quotation marks

Welcome to the monthly quote post! There are a lot of celebrities in this one, so let’s start with…

Actor Emilio Estevez — who pronounces his surname ESS-teh-vez, instead of the Spanish way, ess-TEH-vezdiscussing his name [vid] on Talk Soup with Nessa in 2019:

So I was born on 203rd Street in South Bronx. And, at the time, my father had this very Hispanic-sounding last name. […] A lot people, a lot of these agents, and folks said, if you wanna work in this business, you gotta have a more Anglo-sounding name. Of course times have changed, but there was that moment where he was finally on Broadway — 1965, ’66 — and his father came from Dayton (he was from Spain, of course) and looked up on the marquee, and saw the three names that were starring in the play, and one of them was “Martin Sheen” and not his real name, Ramón Estévez. And my grandfather just looked up, and he just shook his head, and he was so disappointed. And my father saw that. And so when I began to get into this business, we had that conversation. And he said, don’t make the same mistake I did.

…A few sentences later, Estevez added:

I can’t tell you how many people have stopped me on the street and said, you know, just seeing your name on a poster, just seeing your name on screen, meant so much to me, you have no idea.

(Martin Sheen’s stage name was created from the names of CBS casting director Robert Dale Martin and televangelist archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.)

Singer Billy Idol, born William Broad, discussing his stage name [vid] with Karyn Hay on the New Zealand TV show Radio with Pictures in 1984:

Q: Why did you choose the name Billy Idol, especially in a time when [there’s] Johnny Rotten, Ret Scabies, you know?

A: Exactly, I mean that’s the point. That’s exactly the point. […] I thought, first of all, of course, of I-D-L-E, you know, idle. Cause this chemistry teacher when I was at school — I got 8 out of 100 for chemistry, I hated chemistry — so he wrote, “William is idle,” right? And I thought that was great to get 8 out of 10 [sic] for chemistry, cause I hated the hell out of it. So I thought that was respectable, so I thought it was worthwhile being called I-D-O-L, idol. Also, it’s good fun making fun of show business. I’m not into show business, I’m into rock ‘n’ roll.

Composer Bear McCreary’s baby name announcement from mid-2014:

Raya and I are proud to announce our greatest collaboration is finally here. 

Sonatine Yarbrough McCreary was born 6/2/14 and is filling our lives with joy, music… and poop.

(The musical term sonatina means “small sonata” in Italian. A sonata refers to a piece that is played — as opposed to a cantata, a piece that is sung.)

From an article about Amy Schumer legally changing her son’s name:

The I Feel Pretty star revealed her decision to change her 11-month-old son’s name on the newest episode of her podcast 3 Girls, 1 Keith on Tuesday. Schumer and her husband Chris Fischer named their first child Gene Attell Fischer, born May 5, with his middle name serving as a tribute to their good friend comic Dave Attell.

“Do you guys know that Gene, our baby’s name, is officially changed? It’s now Gene David Fischer. It was Gene Attell Fischer, but we realized that we, by accident, named our son ‘genital,'” Schumer told cohosts Rachel Feinstein, Bridget Everett, and Keith Robinson.

…More to the point, from Amy’s Instagram:

Oh, like you never named your kid Genital fissure!!!!!!!

Three quotes from a fantastic article in the NYT about Weird Al Yankovic (discovered via Nancy Friedman).

…On his Alfred-ness:

Although Alfred’s grades were perfect, and he could solve any math problem you threw at him, his social life was agonizing. Imagine every nerd cliche: He was scrawny, pale, unathletic, nearsighted, awkward with girls — and his name was Alfred. And that’s all before you even factor in the accordion.

…On how his surname turned him into an accordion player:

[The accordion] came from a door-to-door salesman. The man was offering the gift of music, and he gave the Yankovics a simple choice: accordion or guitar. This was 1966, the golden age of rock, the year of the Beatles’ “Revolver” and the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” and Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde.” A guitar was like a magic amulet spraying sexual psychedelic magic all over the world. So Yankovic’s mother chose the accordion. This was at least partly because of coincidence: Frankie Yankovic, a world-famous polka player, happened to share the family’s last name. No relation. Just a wonderful coincidence that would help to define Alfred’s entire life.

…On his Alfred-ness again:

The nickname “Weird Al” started as an insult. It happened during his first year of college. This was a fresh start for Alfred — a chance to reinvent himself for a whole new set of people. He had no reputation to live down, no epic humiliations. And so he decided to implement a rebrand: He introduced himself to everyone not as Alfred but as “Al.” Alfred sounded like the kind of kid who might invent his own math problems for fun. Al sounded like the opposite of that: a guy who would hang out with the dudes, eating pizza, casually noodling on an electric guitar, tossing off jokes so unexpectedly hilarious they would send streams of light beer rocketing out of everyone’s noses.

The problem was that, even at college, even under the alias of Al, Yankovic was still himself. He was still, fundamentally, an Alfred.

Comedian Kevin Hart on choosing baby names:

I wish I could say that I am the main guru, [but] I am awful when it comes to the names. That is not my expertise. […] I say the same thing every time. It’s either Kevin or Kevina. I got two names. That’s it. So if you never go with either one of those then I’m no good to you.

Where did the baby name Belita come from in 1943?

Belita in the movie Silver Skates (1943)
Belita in ‘Silver Skates’ (1943)

The name Belita first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1943:

  • 1945: 20 baby girls named Belita
  • 1944: 18 baby girls named Belita
  • 1943: 7 baby girls named Belita [debut]
  • 1942: unlisted
  • 1941: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Figure skater-turned-film star Belita, a contemporary of Sonja Henie. Belita was being featured in a film called Silver Skates in 1943.

She was born Maria Belita Gladys Olive Lyne Jepson-Turner in England in 1923. She competed (as Belita Jepson-Turner) at the Winter Olympics in Berlin in 1936, placing 16th in ladies’ singles.

While stranded in the U.S. during World War II, she embarked upon a Hollywood career. Some of her other films include Lady, Let’s Dance! (1944), Suspense (1946), and Never Let Me Go (1953), which starred Clark Gable and Gene Tierney.

And her unusual name? It was inspired by an Argentine estancia (ranch). Her great-grandfather had relocated to Argentina in the 1800s and established five sizeable estancias, mainly for raising cattle. He also built railroads to his properties. One of the estancias (and the associated railroad station) was named La Belita after his wife, Isabelita. “Since then there has always been a Belita in the family,” Belita said.

Belita retired from both skating and show business during the second half of the 1950s.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Belita?

Sources: