How popular is the baby name Kookie 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 Kookie.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Kookie


Posts that Mention the Name Kookie

Interesting one-hit wonder names in the U.S. baby name data

tulips

They came, they went, and they never came back!

These baby names are one-hit wonders in the U.S. baby name data. That is, they’ve only popped up once, ever, in the entire dataset of U.S. baby names (which accounts for all names given to at least 5 U.S. babies per year since 1880).

There are thousands of one-hit wonders in the dataset, but the names below have interesting stories behind their single appearance, so these are the one-hits I’m writing specific posts about. Just click on a name to read more.

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As I discover (and write about) more one-hit wonders in the data, I’ll add the names/links to this page. In the meanwhile, do you have any favorite one-hit wonder baby names?

P.S. You might also be interested in this list of the top one-hit wonder baby names since 1880

Where did the baby name Shelleen come from?

baby name, 1960s, shelleen, movie
Lee Marvin as Kid Shelleen, 1965

Here’s an interesting one. Most baby names that debut on the girls’ side of the list are put there by a female (either real or fictitious). But Shelleen, just like Kookie and Korla, seems to have popped up in 1965 thanks to a male.

  • 1967: unlisted
  • 1966: 6 baby girls named Shelleen
  • 1965: 7 baby girls named Shelleen [debut]
  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: unlisted

The name can be linked to Kid Shelleen, the bumbling gunfighter played by Lee Marvin in the 1965 comedy Western Cat Ballou.

In fact, Lee Marvin had two roles in the film: Kid Shelleen, and Kid’s brother Tim Strawn, a much more competent gunfighter. For the dual role, Marvin won both the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Actor in early 1966.

Males don’t typically give rise to new female names, but the timing and trends were just right for Shelleen in the ’60s. The same decade, similar names like Shelly, Michelle, and Sheila all saw peak usage.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Shelleen? Do you like it more or less than, say, Shelly?

Source: Cat Ballou – Wikipedia

Where did the baby name Zimbalist come from?

Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

Spotting Zimbalist in the SSA’s baby name data was a lot like spotting Arbutus: I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it the first time I saw it.

The baby name Zimbalist has only ever appeared in the data twice:

  • 1973: unlisted
  • 1972: 5 baby boys named Zimbalist
  • 1962…1971: unlisted
  • 1961: 8 baby boys named Zimbalist [debut]
  • 1960: unlisted

Where does it come from?

Actor Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., who starred in the popular TV shows 77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964) and The F.B.I. (1965-1974).

The movie By Love Possessed (1961), which featured Zimbalist along with actress Lana Turner, may be what caused that initial 1961 debut. (By Love Possessed, btw, was the first movie shown regularly aboard airplanes. The carrier was TWA, and they began screening movies in-flight for first-class passengers in mid-1961.)

His first name, Efrem, saw increased usage as soon as 77 Sunset Strip started airing:

  • 1962: 55 baby boys named Efrem
  • 1961: 83 baby boys named Efrem
  • 1960: 56 baby boys named Efrem
  • 1959: 85 baby boys named Efrem
  • 1958: 8 baby boys named Efrem
  • 1957: unlisted

Efrem is a Russian version of the Hebrew name Ephraim, which means “fruitful,” while Zimbalist is a Jewish surname that originally referred to someone who played a tsimbl, a musical instrument in the dulcimer family.

Which do you like better as a first name, Efrem or Zimbalist?

P.S. Kookie was another 77 Sunset Strip-inspired debut.

Source: Bringing Inflight Movies to Airlines Was Harder Than It Sounds

Where did the baby name Kookie come from in 1959?

The character Kookie from the TV show "77 Sunset Strip" (1958-1964).
Kookie from “77 Sunset Strip

Before there was Fonzie, there was Kookie.

In 1959, the baby name Kookie was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: 5 baby girls name Kookie [debut]
  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: unlisted

I thought it was just a variant of Cookie until I did some research. Turns out that Kookie was a hipster character played by Edd Byrnes on the detective show 77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964). He worked as a valet parking attendant at the club next door to the detectives’ office. The character quickly became a cultural phenomenon:

Constantly combing his glossy, duck-tailed hair and speaking in what was called ‘jive talk’, Gerald Lloyd Kookson III – ‘Kookie’ to his friends — helped Stu and Jeff out on their cases and stole the show. Teenage girls went wild for Kookie and his fan mail reached 10,000 letters a week. A glossary was issued for those who wanted to learn his language which included such young dude phrases as, ‘let’s exitville’ (let’s go), ‘out of print’ (from another town), ‘piling up the Z’s’ (sleeping), ‘a dark seven’ (a depressing week) and ‘headache grapplers’ (aspirin) – all soon copied by youth worldwide.

This popularity led to Kookie-branded merchandise, including “Kookie’s Comb.”

Kookie's Comb
Kookie’s Comb

Byrnes also appeared in-character as Kookie on other TV shows and in advertisements (such as a series of Harley-Davidson ads for the Topper motor scooter).

Most impressively, Edd Byrnes became a top-10 recording artist with the release of the 1959 novelty song “Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb” (vid), a duet with Connie Stevens that reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 2005, TV Guide ranked the top 25 teen idols of all time. Edd “Kookie” Byrnes came in 5th. (John Travolta came in 3rd. Michael J. Fox came in 23rd.)

Source: Lewis, Jon E. and Penny Stempel. Cult TV: The Essential Critical Guide. London: Pavilion Books, 1996.

How did “High Hat” influence baby names?

Newspaper advertisement for the serialized story "High Hat" (1930)
High Hat” advertisement (1930)

Like Gone with the Wind and How Green Was My Valley, High Hat was a story that influenced U.S. baby names not once but twice: first in written form, then in movie form.

Originally called High Hat: A Radio Romance, the story was written by Alma Sioux Scarberry. (Her middle name was originally “Sue,” but she changed it when she learned she was part Native American — Cherokee specifically, not actually Sioux.) It was serialized in the newspapers in 1930 — from March to May, in most of them. It was published as a stand-alone book over the summer.

The main character, Elanda Lee, was a singer with “high hat” ambitions: she worked in radio, but wanted to become an opera star. Her love interest was popular radio star Suwanee Collier, who she initially dismissed because he was “only a ukulele player.” In the end, “[s]he stoops to conquer by becoming the most popular girl on the radio programs singing the praises of complexion soap.” (Here’s a longer synopsis of High Hat, if you’re interested.)

And in 1930, right on cue, the baby name Elanda debuted in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1932: unlisted
  • 1931: 6 baby girls named Elanda
  • 1930: 19 baby girls named Elanda [debut & peak usage]
  • 1929: unlisted
  • 1928: unlisted

A number of these Elandas also got the middle name Lee. (Here are examples from graveyards in Kansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Alabama.)

…But it doesn’t end there. Because in early 1937, the movie High Hat was released. (Here’s a complete copy of High Hat up at the Internet Archive, if you’d like to watch.) And it seems that, in the movie, Swanee — now being spelled like the Gershwin song — was the central character. He ultimately helped classically trained singer Elanda adapt to the trend of “swing” music.

The character Swanee Collier from the movie "High Hat" (1937).
Swanee from “High Hat

The same year, the baby name Swanee was a one-hit wonder in the data, showing up as a girl name. (This is one of several baby names that came from male character, yet popped up on the girls’ side of the list. Another example is Kookie.)

  • 1939: unlisted
  • 1938: unlisted
  • 1937: 5 baby girls named Swanee [debut]
  • 1936: unlisted
  • 1935: unlisted

Curiously, the baby name Elanda did not re-emerge in ’37. That said, the name “Landa” did pop up the next year…perhaps there’s a connection?

What are your thoughts on the names Elanda and Swanee?

Sources: