How popular is the baby name Hedy 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 Hedy.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Hedy


Posts that Mention the Name Hedy

What turned Greer into a girl name in the early 1940s?

Actress Greer Garson (1904-1996)
Greer Garson

From the 1910s to the 1930s, the rare name Greer occasionally popped in the in the U.S. baby name data as a boy name. In the early 1940s, though, it suddenly started being given to baby girls:

  • 1943: 37 baby girls and 10 baby boys named Greer
  • 1942: 15 baby girls and 6 baby boys named Greer
  • 1941: 5 baby girls named Greer
  • 1940: unlisted
  • 1939: unlisted

In fact, from 1941 onward, the name Greer has been given more often to baby girls than to baby boys:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Greer
Graph of the usage of the name Greer

What caused the switch?

Red-haired British actress Greer Garson, who was most popular in America during the early-to-mid 1940s. She was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress seven times, though she won only once (for her role in the 1942 movie Mrs. Miniver).

Her birth name was Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson; Greer was her mother’s maiden name. She began going by “Greer Garson” in the early 1930s, while she was still a stage actress in England.

Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM studios, discovered Garson in 1937 while he was abroad hunting for talent. After that particular trip, he sailed back to the U.S. with Garson and several other finds:

Also on board were two Austrian actresses named Hedy Kiesler and Rose Stradner, screenwriter Walter Reisch, and two singers, Hungarian Ilona Hajmassy, and Polish Miliza Korjus. While Mayer renamed Hedy Kiesler “Hedy Lamarr” and changed Ilona Hajmassy to “Ilona Massey,” he was stumped when it came to Greer and Miliza Korjus. Ultimately, he settled with Howard Strickling [head of MGM’s publicity department] to start a publicity campaign for Korjus (“her name rhymes with gorgeous!”), and left Greer’s name alone. But for years he would continue to complain that her name was not feminine enough.

The surname Greer is related to the personal name Gregory, which means “watchful, alert.”

What are your thoughts on the name Greer? Do you like it better as a girl name or as a boy name?

Sources:

P.S. The top image of (a very bejeweled) Greer Garson comes from her appearance on the TV game show “What’s My Line?” in April of 1958.

P.P.S. At the height of her fame, Greer Garson owned two standard poodles with the rhyming names Gogo and Clicquot (pronounced klee-koh).

Where did the baby name Tondalaya come from?

leon gilbert, tondalaya, 1955,
Leon Gilbert with children Leon and Tondalaya
© 1955 Jet

The sudden appearance of Tondalaya in the SSA’s baby name data in the mid-1950s had me stumped for a long time.

  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: 11 baby girls named Tondalaya [debut]
  • 1954: unlisted
  • 1953: unlisted

Why? Because “Tondalaya” was so suspiciously close to “Tondelayo,” the name of a character from the 1942 movie* White Cargo. The character was a mixed-race African character played by Hedy Lamarr.

tandelayo, hedy lamarr
(from the White Cargo trailer)

But the spelling didn’t match, and the timing was way off.

Finally, years later, I happened to find the link between these two things: a photo in a 1955 issue of Jet magazine that featured an 11-year-old girl named Tondalaya. Here’s what the caption said:

Paroled after five years imprisonment for disobeying Army orders while a lieutenant in Korea, Leon A. Gilbert is reunited with his wife, Kay, son Leon, and daughter Tondalaya at Los Angeles’ International Airport.

(Further research revealed that her name was actually spelled “Tondalayo.”)

So that solved the mystery of the name, but…who was Leon Gilbert?

Up until mid-1950, he was a decorated WWII veteran serving with the 24th Infantry Regiment in Korea.

But on July 31, he refused an order and was arrested on the spot.

Seems like an appropriate outcome for a disobedient soldier during wartime…until you consider that the 24th was an all-black unit, that the 24th’s commanders were all white, and that this particular order amounted to a multi-man suicide mission. (The order would have had Gilbert leading about a dozen men back to a location that had been abandoned due to heavy enemy fire.)

Leon Gilbert was court-martialed. At the trial, which lasted about four hours, no witnesses were called on Gilbert’s behalf, medical reports indicating that he suffered from acute stress reaction were ignored, and the defense attorney didn’t bother to make a closing statement. Leon Gilbert was convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad.

Back home, the case was being followed closely by the press — particularly by the black press. The sentence angered many Americans, and “petitions calling for [Gilbert’s] freedom were sent to Washington from around the country.”

An investigation carried out by NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall found that Gilbert was one of “many blacks and no white troops who had been charged with misconduct in the presence of the enemy.” He also said that “[i]t seems apparent that some of [the black soldiers] are being made scapegoats for the failures of higher personnel.”

In late November, President Harry Truman commuted the death sentence to 20 years in prison.

Ultimately — as mentioned in the photo caption — Leon Gilbert served five years in a military prison before he was released on parole in 1955.

Sources:

*The movie was based on play of the same name from the 1920s. In the play, the character’s name was spelled “Tondeleyo.” The play was based on the novel Hell’s Playground (1912) by Ida Vera Simonton, but Tondeleyo did not appear in the novel. Playwright Leon Gordon created (and named) Tondeleyo by combining the attributes/histories of two of the book’s female characters, Ndio and Elinda.

Name quotes #45: Traxton, Sadi, Yeimary

quotation marks

Ready for more name quotes?

From an essay by Hans Fiene about BuzzFeed’s criticism of Chip And Joanna Gaines’ church:

“People who give their kids weird names are unsophisticated morons,” I thought to myself when I was 23 years old and busy substitute-teaching a class full of kids named Brysalynn and Traxton.

[…]

Then, a few years later, one of my closest friends had a kid and named him something dumb. At the moment of said dumb-named kid’s entrance into this world, two options stood before me. Option A: I was wrong about baby names, and it was, in fact, possible to be an interesting, intelligent person while also being sweet on absurd baby monikers. Option B: Despite having a mountain of evidence that my friend was interesting and intelligent, this was all a ruse and he had been a moron the entire time.

From The Toast, an in-depth look at “ship names” — short for relationship names, i.e., name blends that represent fan-created relationships between fictional characters:

Onset conservation is also why we get Drarry (Draco/Harry), Dramione (Draco/Hermione), Klaroline (Klause/Caroline), Sterek (Stiles/Derek), Stydia (Stiles/Lydia), Clex (Clark Kent/Lex Luthor), Chlex (Chloe/Lex), Phrack (Phryne/Jack), Cherik (Charles/Erik), CroWen (Cristina/Owen), Bedward (Bella/Edward), Brucas (Brooke/Lucas), Brangelina (Brad/Angelina), and so on.

(“Olicity Is Real” was trending on Twitter recently…I wonder how long it’ll be before we start seeing ship names on birth certificates.)

From the 2007 New York Times obituary of actor Tiger “Tige” Andrews:

Tiger Andrews was born on March 19, 1920, in Brooklyn; he was named after a strong animal to ensure good health, following a Syrian custom.

(He was one of the stars of The Mod Squad, which started airing on TV in 1968. His nickname, Tige, was one of the top debut names of 1969.)

From a footnote in a 1986 translation of the book Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire (1824) by French scientist Nicolas-Léonard “Sadi” Carnot:

Sadi was named after the thirteenth-century Persian poet and naturalist, Saadi Musharif ed Din, whose poems, most notably the Gulistan (or Rose Garden), were popular in Europe in the late eighteenth century. It seems likely that Lazare [Sadi’s father] chose the name to commemorate his association, in the 1780s, with the Société des Rosati, an informal literary society in Arras in which a recurring theme was the celebration of the beauty of roses in poetry.

From Ed Sikov’s 2007 book Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis (spotted while doing research for the Stanley Ann post):

Manly names for women were all the rage [in Hollywood movies] in 1941: Hedy Lamarr was a Johnny and a Marvin that year, and the eponymous heroines of Frank Borzage’s Seven Sweethearts were called Victor, Albert, Reggie, Peter, Billie, George, and most outrageous of all, Cornelius.

Speaking of Cornelius…some comedy from John Oliver‘s 2008 special Terrifying Times:

[A] friend of mine emailed me and he said that someone had created a Wikipedia entry about me. I didn’t realize this was true, so I looked it up. And like most Wikipedia entries, it came with some flamboyant surprises, not least amongst them my name. Because in it it said my name was John Cornelius Oliver. Now my middle name is not Cornelius because I did not die in 1752. But obviously, I want it to be. Cornelius is an incredible name. And that’s when it hit me — the way the world is now, fiction has become more attractive than fact. That is why Wikipedia is such a vital resource. It’s a way of us completely rewriting our history to give our children and our children’s children a much better history to grow up with.

From Piper Laurie‘s 2011 memoir Learning to Live Out Loud:

It never occurred to me that I didn’t have to change my name. For the last twenty or thirty years, I’ve admired and envied all the performers who have proudly used their real names. The longer and harder to pronounce, the better.

(Was Mädchen Amick one of the performers she had in mind? They worked together on Twin Peaks in the early 1990s…)

From a New York Times interview with Lisa Spira of Ethnic Technologies, a company that uses personal names to predict ethnicity:

Can you give an example of how your company’s software works?

Let’s hypothetically take the name of an American: Yeimary Moran. We see the common name Mary inside her first name, but unlike the name Rosemary, for example, we know that the letter string “eimary” is Hispanic. Her surname could be Irish or Hispanic. So then we look at where our Yeimary Moran lives, which is Miami. From our software, we discover that her neighborhood is more Hispanic than Irish. Customer testing and feedback show that our software is over 90 percent accurate in most ethnicities, so we can safely deduce that this Yeimary Moran is Hispanic.

From Duncan McLaren’s Evelyn Waugh website, an interesting fact about the English writer and his first wife, also named Evelyn:

Although I call the couple he- and she-Evelyn in my book, Alexander [Evelyn Waugh’s grandson] has mentioned that at the time [late 1920s] they were called Hevelyn and Shevelyn.

(Evelyn Waugh’s first name was pronounced EEV-lyn, so I imagine “Hevelyn” was HEEV-lyn and “Shevelyn” SHEEV-lyn.)

Where did the baby name Allida come from in 1945?

The character Allida Bederaux from the movie "Experiment Perilous" (1944).
Allida from “Experiment Perilous”

The name Allida has appeared in the U.S. baby name data only twice:

  • 1947: unlisted
  • 1946: 11 baby girls named Allida
  • 1945: 23 baby girls named Allida
  • 1944: unlisted
  • 1943: unlisted

What put it there?

The long-forgotten movie Experiment Perilous, released in December of 1944.

It featured a character named Allida Bederaux who was played by actress Hedy Lamarr.

Here’s the movie trailer [vid].

Do you like the name Allida?