How popular is the baby name Helmut in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Use the popularity graph and data table below to find out! Plus, see all the blog posts that mention the name Helmut.

The graph will take a few moments to load. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take 9 months!) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.

Popularity of the baby name Helmut

Posts that mention the name Helmut

What brought the baby name Stedman back in 1987?

Stedman Graham on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (in 1989)
Stedman Graham on “The Oprah Winfrey Show

According to Wikipedia, Stedman Graham is an “educator, author, businessman and speaker.” But, without Wikipedia’s help, how would you describe Stedman? That’s right: “Oprah’s boyfriend.”

Oprah began dating Stedman Graham in mid-1986, a few months before The Oprah Winfrey Show premiered. We’ve already seen how the name Oprah debuted in the U.S. baby name data that year, but did you know that the talk show gave the baby name Stedman a boost as well?

  • 1990: 38 baby boys named Stedman
  • 1989: 82 baby boys named Stedman (peak usage)
  • 1988: 29 baby boys named Stedman
  • 1987: 20 baby boys named Stedman
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted

Not only did “Stedman” reappear in the data in 1987 after a 48-year absence, but, the following year, the name Steadman similarly re-emerged, and the names Stedmen, Stedmon and Stedmond all appeared for the very first time.

And what accounts for the Stedman spike of 1989?

In February of that year, Stedman appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show for the first time. The episode was about “men who marry or date famous women, and how they cope with it.” The other guests were actress Susan Lucci and her husband Helmut, and singer Barbara Mandrell and her husband Ken.

While usage of the name Stedman has tapered off since 1989, the relationship between Oprah and Stedman is still going strong nearly 3 decades later. They attended the Oscars together last month, in fact.

Stedman is one several “significant other” baby names I’ve spotted in the SSA’s baby name data so far. Others include Josanne, Movita and Tarita (all associated with Marlon Brando), Syreeta and Londie (both associated with Stevie Wonder), Loray and Altovise (both associated with Sammy Davis, Jr.), one-hit wonder Kayatana (girlfriend of Flip Wilson), Marva (first wife of Joe Louis) and Sonji (first wife of Muhammad Ali). Stedman is unique, though, in that it’s a male name that was popularized by a famous female — not a common scenario, it seems.

Sources: Stedman Graham – Wikipedia, Oprah’s Beau Drops In Her Main Squeeze Meets Star’s Tv ‘Family’

What gave the baby name Rahn a boost in 1954?

German soccer player Helmut Rahn (1929-2003)
Helmut Rahn (kicking the ball)

The name Rahn, which had already appeared in the U.S. baby name data a couple of times in the 1940s, re-emerged strongly in the mid-1950s — so strongly that it reached the top 1,000 for the first and only time:

  • 1956: 18 baby boys named Rahn
  • 1955: 22 baby boys named Rahn
  • 1954: 66 baby boys named Rahn (rank: 914th)
    • 37 (66%) born in six states: CA (8), OH (7), IA (6), PA (6), IL (5), and NE (5)
  • 1953: unlisted
  • 1952: unlisted

Rahn would have been one of the top baby name debuts of the year, in fact, had it not popped up previously in the data. (Instead, the top debut for boys in 1954 was Dirk-variant “Durk.”)

So…what’s behind the return of Rahn?

Looks like the answer is German soccer player Helmut Rahn.

At the 1954 FIFA World Cup Final, underdog West Germany beat undefeated Hungary by 3-2 in a huge upset. Rahn was the one who secured the win by scoring both the second and the third goals for West Germany.

Soccer wasn’t a popular sport in the U.S. at that time, so there wasn’t much coverage of the event in American newspapers, and none on television. (Though the ’54 World Cup was the first to be televised, the footage only aired in Europe.)

But many of the states that saw the highest usage were also states with significant German-American populations, so I imagine that those communities were paying particular attention to the tournament via other sources (perhaps German-language newspapers).

The German surname Rahn was derived from the Middle High German word ran, meaning “slim,” “slight.”

What do you think of “Rahn” as a first name?

P.S. West Germany’s dramatic win may have given the name Helmut a boost as well, though it’s hard to tell.


Image: Adapted from SC Enschede tegen DOS 3-2 by Wim van Rossem via Nationaal Archief under CC0.