The curious name Mako first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1977:
- 1979: unlisted
- 1978: unlisted
- 1977: 5 baby boys named Mako [debut]
- 1976: unlisted
- 1975: unlisted
The influence seems to be Japanese-American actor Makoto Iwamatsu (1933-2006), who was usually credited mononymously as “Mako.”
He’d been appearing in films and on TV since the late ’50s, but in the mid-’70s he starred in the Broadway musical Pacific Overtures (1976) by Stephen Sondheim. His portrayal of several characters in the play earned him a Tony nomination for ‘Best Actor in a Musical.’
In one 1976 newspaper interview, he described the origin of his stage name:
I picked up the single name of Mako when I was in basic training [U.S. Army] in South Carolina. The sergeant could never pronounce my name correctly at mail call. On principle, I never answered.
Next he tried calling me Shorty. When that didn’t work, he finally shouted: ‘Hey, you damn Yankee.’ That was the first time I really felt like an American. That broke the ice. We compromised, and I agreed to answer to Mako.
In Mako’s case, the first name Makoto is written with a kanji character that means “sincerity” in Japanese.
What are your thoughts on the name Mako?
- Lewis, Emory. “Asians can act, too: Mako.” Record [Hackensack, NJ] 4 Apr. 1976: 58.
- Mako – Wikipedia