It’s almost Halloween! So let’s look at the curious girl name Loey, which debuted in the U.S. baby name data at the start of the ’70s:
1970: 11 baby girls named Loey [debut]
What put it there?
A character from the TV horror movie Ritual of Evil, which premiered in February of 1970. It was a sequel to the 1969 TV movie Fear No Evil, and so it featured the same main character: psychiatrist David Sorrell.
In Ritual of Evil, Dr. Sorrell investigated the death of one of his patients, a young heiress. Turns out she was killed by a Satanic cult, and her little sister Loey (played by Belinda Montgomery) was now in danger as well.
In the film, the name “Loey” was pronounced to rhyme with Chloe and Zoe.
Halloween is a few days away, so here’s a pair of horror-imbued baby names, each of which got a boost from the same scary film.
That film was The Ring, released in October of 2002. The film’s main character was a journalist dealing with a cursed videotape (that killed anyone who watched it). But the film’s memorable character — as in all good horror films — was the villain: the vengeful spirit of a little girl named Samara (pronounced sah-MAHR-ah) Morgan. Samara was played by young actress Daveigh (pronounced dah-VAY) Chase.
The year after The Ring came out, the name Samara saw a steep rise in usage, and the name Daveigh debuted in the U.S. data:
825 baby girls (rank: 380th)
12 baby girls
857 baby girls (rank: 365th)
21 baby girls
656 baby girls (rank: 456th)
22 baby girls [debut] [peak]
242 baby girls (rank: 929th)
261 baby girls (rank: 883rd)
The Ring did well at the box office, and it was followed by two successful sequels: The Ring Two (released in March of 2005) and Rings (February of 2017).
Daveigh Chase was not actively involved in either sequel, so her name didn’t see any subsequent boosts in the data. But Samara Morgan was central to both films (of course) and we can see the corresponding peaks in usage of “Samara” in 2006 and 2018:
(The rise that began in 2016 may have been kicked off by Australian actress Samara Weaving, who was being called a “newcomer” in Hollywood around that time.)
The Ring was a remake of the 1998 Japanese film Ringu, which was based on the 1991 Japanese novel Ringu by Koji Suzuki. In the novel and the original film, the little girl was named Sadako Yamamura. I couldn’t find any information on why the American version of the character was renamed “Samara” specifically, but my guess is that “Samara” was chosen simply because it was a 3-syllable S-name like Sadako.
What are your thoughts on the name Samara? Would you use it (despite the horrific association)?
But I’m writing them up a bit differently this year — I’m only focusing on 20 big winners.
How did I choose these 20? First, I eliminated all the names that didn’t see increased usage in 2013. Then I eliminated the names that saw relatively small increases in usage. Then I eliminated the names that saw more or less expected increases in usage, given their trajectories.
That left me with about 20 names that became more popular in 2013 due mainly (in some cases entirely) to pop culture influence.
Every year on Britney Spears’s birthday (December 2) we start another round of the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game.
What is the Pop Culture Baby Name Game, you ask? Good question! It’s not a “game” really, but more of a group brainstorm. We try to guess which baby names became more popular during the year thanks to pop culture — music, movies, television, sports, politics, current events, products, etc.
I’ve searched for all the 2013 predictions we’ve made so far (in posts & comments) and listed them below. I also threw in a few more possibilities — mostly celebrity baby names. So here’s what we’re starting with: