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. (Which…could 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.
“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).
The likeable names Emma and Ella are both very popular choices for babies right now. Nationally, Emma is ranked 1st and Ella is 16th.
Both can be traced back to Germanic words: Emma to ermen, meaning “entire, whole,” and Ella to ali, meaning “other, foreign.”
Both can also be used as short forms other names, particularly those starting with Em- (e.g., Emerson, Emmeline) or El- (e.g., Eleanor, Ellen).
So let’s say you like these names, but…you’d really prefer to use something a little less common. One thing you could try is moving to the next letter of the alphabet: L, M, N.
Enna isn’t what you’d call a traditional name. And it’s never been in the top 1,000 — though it did come close once, way back in 1894.
That said, the letter string “enna” is popular in longer names (like Jenna, Sienna, Mckenna, Kenna, Vienna, Brenna, Glenna, Gwenna, Zenna, etc.), and Enna as a stand-alone name has seen seen slightly higher usage lately:
2017: 14 baby girls named Enna
2016: 24 baby girls named Enna (peak usage so far)
2015: 22 baby girls named Enna
2014: 19 baby girls named Enna
2013: 15 baby girls named Enna
2012: 7 baby girls named Enna
What are your thoughts on the baby name Enna? Do you like it as an alternative to Ella and Emma?