The rare name Marjoe has appeared in the U.S. baby name just twice, both times in the mid-1970s:
1975: 6 baby boys named Marjoe
1974: 6 baby boys named Marjoe [debut]
This name is similar to Uldine in that both are associated with something rather unusual: child preachers.
In the case of Marjoe, the influence was child preacher-turned-actor Marjoe Gortner.
He was born Hugh Marjoe Ross Gortner to parents to Vernon and Marge of California in 1944. According to an early source, the middle name “Marjoe” was based on the name of his mother Marge. (His younger siblings were named Vernoe and Starloe.) Later sources claim “Marjoe” was a combination of Mary and Joseph.
Marjoe Gortner was a precocious child, and his family was full of preachers, so his parents (putting two and two together) decided to turn Marjoe into a child preacher. By the age of four, he was an ordained minister and could deliver about 40 different sermons from memory. His entire childhood was spent evangelizing.
By the early 1970s, Marjoe Gortner was in his late 20s and only in it for the money. In the autobiographical documentary Marjoe (1972), he gave viewers a behind-the-scenes look at “the lucrative business of Pentecostal preaching.” It earned critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in early 1973, but wasn’t screened in many theaters.
Following the success of the documentary, Marjoe pursued an acting career. He was most visible in the mid-1970s, appearing mainly on television. He could be seen on episodes of various TV shows (like Nakia, in 1974) and in several made-for-TV movies (like The Gun and the Pulpit, also in 1974).
What are your thoughts on the name Marjoe?
Gaines, Steven S. Marjoe: The Life of Marjoe Gortner. New York: Harper & Row: 1973.
Husband-and-wife dance team Marge and Gower Champion appeared in a number of musical films during the 1950s.
The couple had two sons, the first of whom was born in 1956 and named Gregg Ernest. According to a 1957 newspaper, he “was named after New York novelist James Gregg, who staked the Champions to the $30 they needed to their first dance engagement in Montreal.”
I spent hours trying to find a New York novelist from the ’50s named James Gregg…before discovering that the namesake was actually Jess Gregg, who wasn’t a novelist so much as a playwright. Who knows if that part about the $30 is true…
I also discovered that the baby’s middle name came from Marge’s father, whose full name was “Ernest Belcher,” unfortunately.
Gilvey, John Anthony. Before the Parade Passes By. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005.
Please note that I did include names in the gray area between one syllable and two syllables. The deciding factor on these particular names will be your own interpretation/accent, so be sure to test the names out loud before making any final decisions. (“Hayle,” for instance — would you say it like Hale, or like Hailey? Or “Rise” — is it rize, or ree-sah?)