Jemal David, an African-American character played by actor Otis Young on the single-season TV western The Outcasts (1968-1969).
The series was set in the decade following the Civil War, when “people of all creeds and colors were part of the West” (according to the narrated introduction). The two protagonists, both bounty hunters, were an unlikely pair: Jemal, an ex-slave freed by the Proclamation, and Earl Corey, a former slave owner from Virginia.
Young’s Jemal David was possibly television’s angriest African American protagonist; a defiant man who refused to forget the indignities and humiliations of slavery. He also never let his partner’s racism go unchallenged.
There was even an episode called “My name is Jemal” that drew extra attention to the name:
The similar name Jamal also saw a big boost in usage thanks to the character. But, unlike Jemal, which quickly petered out, Jamal’s usage continued to increase for several decades.
What are your thoughts on the name Jemal? Which spelling do you prefer?
Bogle, Donald. Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.
Here’s the format: “Girl name(s), number of baby girls; Boy name(s), number of baby boys.” Keep in mind that the raw numbers aren’t too trustworthy for about the first six decades, though. (More on that in a minute.)
I’ve already written about some of the names above, and I plan to write about all the others as well…eventually. In the meanwhile, if you want to beat me to it and leave a comment about why Maverick hit in 1957, or why Moesha hit in 1996, feel free!
But these names are special, because they are the highest-charting single-appearance names ever. Impressively, each of the names blow ranked at least 700th (or well above!) during the single year they placed in the top 1,000.
Rank & Year
241st in 1989
424th in 1997
The 1996 telenovela Te Sigo Amando featured a character named Yulissa played by Claudia Ramírez.
The first 3 seasons of the Mission: Impossible TV series (1966-1973) featured a character named Cinnamon Carter. (That’s what put Cinnamon on the map.) Early in 1969, “Cinnamon” by Derek (a.k.a. Johnny Cymbal) was an actual one-hit wonder that peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Later the same year, “Cinnamon Girl” by Neil Young was released.
700th in 2001
Destiny’s Child (featuring Beyoncé Knowles) won two Grammy Awards in 2001.
I didn’t include single-appearance names from the 1880s (like Manerva, Zilpah, Worley, Ambers, Orilla, and Simona), and it’s too early to include names from the 2006 data (Addisyn, Krish, Yandel, Rihanna).