In 1985, the usage of the baby name Soleil — which is pronounced soh-lay, roughly — nearly quintupled:
- 1987: 18 baby girls named Soleil
- 1986: 19 baby girls named Soleil
- 1985: 29 baby girls named Soleil
- 1984: 6 baby girls named Soleil
- 1983: unlisted
Because of young actress Soleil Moon Frye.
She was the star of the memorable children’s TV series Punky Brewster, which began airing on NBC in September of 1984.
The show was about a feisty, colorfully-dressed young girl named Penelope “Punky” Brewster. After being abandoned by her parents, Punky was begrudgingly taken in by a cranky widower named Henry Warnimont (played by George Gaynes). Henry eventually warmed to Punky and, in the penultimate* episode of the second season, he legally adopted her.
In mid-1985, the Washington Post called Soleil Moon Frye’s name “peculiar” and offered this explanation:
Soleil’s mother said her daughter was scheduled for a July birthday. When she showed up in August, Frye said she picked “Soleil” (French for “sun”) because “August was the month of the sun” and “Moon” because she liked the lyrics from a song in “Annie Get Your Gun”: “I’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.”
Recently, Frye was quoted as saying: “I love having a unique name.”
Indeed, she’s continued the tradition with her own four children: daughters Poet and Jagger, and sons Lyric and Story.
What are your thoughts on the name Soleil?
*The final episode of Punky Brewster‘s second season dealt with the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, which had occurred fewer than six weeks earlier. The episode featured astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (as himself).
- Brennan, Patricia. “Soleil Moon Frye.” Washington Post 21 Jul. 1985.
- Margulies, Lee. “Episode to air March 9: ‘Punky’ Deals With Shuttle Tragedy.” Los Angeles Times 19 Feb. 1986.
- Punky Brewster – NBC.com
- Punky Brewster – Wikipedia
- “Soleil Moon Frye on Choosing Another ‘Crazy, Unique Name’: It’s Hard But ‘I’m Working on It’.” People.com 3 Dec. 2020.
P.S. Punky Brewster’s dog Brandon was named after Brandon Tartikoff, who was the president of NBC’s entertainment division during the 1980s.