A single-episode character on the popular TV show Route 66. The episode, “Mon Petit Chou,” first aired on November 24, 1961. It was set in Pittsburgh and guest-starred French actress Macha Méril as character Perette Dijon, a chanteuse with a Svengali-like manager named Glenn (played by Lee Marvin).
Macha was born Maria-Magdalena Vladimirovna Gagarina, and is technically a princess. (Her parents were Ukrainian nobility who fled to the south of France during the Russian Revolution.) When she decided to become an actress, she continued to use her nickname Macha, a diminutive of Maria, and added the surname Méril in tribute to jazz singer Helen Merrill (born Jelena Ana Milcetic).
Do you like the name Perette? Do you like it more or less than Macha?
In 1895, Kenesaw Landis returned to Chicago and founded a law firm with two other lawyers
A decade later, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him a U.S. District Judge for Northern Illinois.
His “involvement in [various] high profile cases, combined with his flair for theatrics, brought his decisions and behavior to national attention. After Standard Oil [in 1907], Landis was dubbed the “most talked of persona in America.”
So he was already a well-known public figure by the time he became the first commissioner of professional baseball in late 1920 (which was not long after news of the Black Sox scandal broke).
Why am I getting into all this detail about Kenesaw Landis?
Because, once he became relatively famous, he began acquiring namesakes of his own!
The name Landis, for instance, debuted in the baby data in 1907 and nearly doubled in usage in 1920:
1922: 17 baby boys named Landis
1921: 18 baby boys named Landis
1920: 23 baby boys named Landis
1919: 12 baby boys named Landis
1918: 13 baby boys named Landis
1917: 14 baby boys named Landis
1916: 17 baby boys named Landis
1915: 13 baby boys named Landis
1914: 7 baby boys named Landis
1913: 7 baby boys named Landis
1912: 6 baby boys named Landis
1910: 5 baby boys named Landis
1907: 6 baby boys named Landis [debut]
The German surname Landis was derived from the Middle High German word landoese, “landless,” which was originally a “nickname for a highwayman or for someone who lays waste to the land.”
Even more interesting, though, are the dozens of boys who got other permutations of his name, such as…
One of last week’s post featured Glenna Lee McCarthy, whose father was famous Texas oil prospector and entrepreneur Glenn McCarthy (1907-1988).
Writer Edna Ferber fictionalized Glenn’s rags-to-riches life story in her novel Giant (1952) with the character Jett Rink.
The book was later made into a movie, which came out in October of 1956. Jett was played by James Dean, who had died in a car accident a month before the film premiered.
The other two main characters were Jordan “Bick” Benedict (played by Rock Hudson) and his wife Leslie Benedict (Elizabeth Taylor). Secondary characters included the Benedicts’ son Jordan, or “Jordy” (Dennis Hopper) and a neighbor named Vashti (Jane Withers).
The movie did well at the box office and was nominated for various Academy Awards, including a posthumous Best Actor nomination for Dean. It also gave a boost to several baby names:
The bride was 17-year-old Glenna Lee McCarthy, daughter of famous Texas oilman Glenn McCarthy. She was a student at Lamar High School in Houston at the time.
(Glenn McCarthy was one of the men who inspired Edna Ferber to write the novel Giant in 1952. It was later made into a film starring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson.)
The groom was 19-year-old George Pontikes, son of a Greek cobbler. He had graduated from Lamar and was now attending Rice University, where he played football.
In early December, 1950, the pair ran off to Waco to be married by a justice of the peace. News of their elopement broke toward the end of the month — right around the time that Glenna’s older sister, Mary Margaret, was getting married in a much more traditional manner. (That must have been awkward.)
Glenna and George were in the news for several days straight at the very end of 1950. Many papers, including the New York Times, mistakenly called the bride “Glenalee McCarthy.” (Not all did, though, and the baby name Glenna saw peak usage in 1951 as a result.)
Papa Glenn McCarthy was unhappy about the elopement at first, but one paper reported that “trigger-tempered McCarthy” had “calmed down after [the] initial outburst of anger.” Perhaps he was quick to forgive because the situation was eerily familiar: He’d eloped with his own wife, the 16-year-old daughter of a wealthy oilman, back when he was a 23-year-old gas station attendant in 1930.
Do you like the name Glenalee (…even if it started out as a typo)?
“Cobbler’s Son Weds Glenalee M’Carthy.” New York Times 27 Dec. 1950: 38.
The simple name Kip has a longer history than one might guess. There was a Kip in the 11th century Domesday Book, for instance.
But today’s post isn’t quite about Kip. It’s about the diminutive forms Kippy and Kippie, which saw some interesting usage in the ’50s and ’60s. No doubt the trendiness of Kip during that era set the scene for this usage, but pop culture played a part as well.
Let’s start in 1955, when Kippie debuted as a boy name, and Kippy both peaked as a boy name and debuted as a girl name:
I think this extra 1955 usage can be attributed to a TV series called The World of Mr. Sweeney. The main character was Mr. Cicero P. Sweeney, who ran the town general store, but another prominent character was Cicero’s young grandson Kippie, played by Glenn Walken. (Fun fact: Glenn is the brother of Christopher Walken.)
The show began as a weekly segment on The Kate Smith Hour in 1953, but was spun off into an independent program — 15-minute episodes, 5 times per week — that lasted from 1954 to 1955. (Father Knows Best (1954-1960) occasionally featured a boy named Kippy as well, but I think Mr. Sweeney better accounts for the spike/debuts.)
Moving on to the ’60s, we see another spike for Kippy in 1960, followed by a relatively strong debut of Kippy as a girl name in 1962:
During 1960, a male character named Kippy Clark was featured in the comic strip Mary Worth. (This might seem trivial, but comics were widely read decades ago. The name Mardeen debuted thanks to the very same strip.)
In 1962, following the sudden death of famous comedian Ernie Kovacs, his widow Edie and his ex-wife Bette battled in court over the custody of his two teenage daughters, Bette and Kippie Kovacs.
Do you like the name Kippy/Kippie? How about Kip itself? Let me know what you think in the comments…