How popular is the baby name Rock 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 Rock.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Rock


Posts that Mention the Name Rock

Why didn’t Cloris Leachman change her name?

Actress Cloris Leachman (1926-2021)
Cloris Leachman

While other mid-20th-century actors and actresses were swapping out their birth names for catchy stage names (like Rory Calhoun, Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas, Piper Laurie, Tab Hunter, and Rock Hudson), Cloris Leachman decided to go against the grain and stick with her legal name (which she’d inherited from her mother).

But she did consider changing her name for a time…thanks largely to Tallulah Bankhead.

In 1949, Cloris was in her early 20s and appearing on stage in Come Back, Little Sheba. Bankhead came to see the production, and, afterwards, when the two women met for the first time, Tallulah implored Cloris to change her name.

On a different occasion, Bankhead brought the topic up again:

“Cloris Leachman,” she crowed, “too long. Too many syllables. Too unknown. Clorox Bleachman would be better. You can’t even fit it on the marquee in front of a theater.”

During that second interaction, Cloris came up with the potential stage name “April Claiborne” by combining her birth month with her youngest sister’s first name. (“Claiborne” was their paternal grandmother’s maiden name.)

She still wasn’t sure about making the change, though.

When I went to the Actors Studio the next day, I talked about Madame Bankhead’s rant. They all agreed with her. “You have to change your name! You have to!,” they cried. It was a unanimous opinion. So right there we got out the New York phone book. It opened it up to the Ls, closed my eyes, and the name under my finger was Leavitt. It was miraculous. That translated to “Leave it!” This is no accident, I thought. The god of monikers is talking, and he says leave it. Okay, I’ll leave it.

When I got to Hollywood, the subject came up again. People said I should not only change my name, I should have my nose shortened. I emphatically didn’t want to do either, and that’s why I’m still Cloris Leachman with a big nose.

Cloris Leachman’s name may not have been as trendy-sounding as “Lana Turner” or “Piper Laurie,” but it certainly wasn’t an impediment to her career, which lasted more than seven decades. She appeared in nearly 100 films (like The Last Picture Show), dozens of TV movies (such as A Girl Named Sooner), and well over 100 TV shows (including Johnny Staccato, Rawhide, Outlaws, Shirley Temple’s Storybook, The Loretta Young Show, Gunsmoke, The Twilight Zone, Route 66, Wagon Train, Stoney Burke, 77 Sunset Strip, A Man Called Shenandoah, The Big Valley, Mannix, and The Virginian).

Her first name, a variant spelling of the ancient Greek name Chloris (meaning “greenish-yellow, pale green”), is closely related to the name Chloe (meaning “green shoot”).

What are your thoughts on the name Cloris?

Sources:

Where did the baby name Mannix come from in 1967?

The character Joe Mannix from the TV show "Mannix" (1967-1975).
Joe Mannix from “Mannix”

The main character of the memorably violent TV series Mannix was Los Angeles private investigator Joseph “Joe” Mannix (played by Mike Connors). The show premiered in 1967 and, the same year, the baby name Mannix debuted in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1969: 9 baby boys named Mannix
  • 1968: 13 baby boys named Mannix
  • 1967: 7 baby boys named Mannix [debut]
  • 1966: unlisted
  • 1965: unlisted

The name remained in the data while the show was on the air, but disappeared after the series was canceled in 1975.

It didn’t stay away long, though. In fact, it’s been a regular in the data since actress Angelina Jolie made the like-sounding name Maddox trendy.

So what does Mannix mean? It’s an Anglicized Irish surname meaning “descendant of Manachán” — Manachán being a personal named derived from the Gaelic word manach, meaning “monk.”

Do you like the name Mannix? Do you like it more or less than Maddox?

Sources:

  • Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Mannix – Wikipedia

P.S. Mike Connors’ legal name was Krekor Ohanian. (He was of Armenian descent.) His agent, Henry Willson — famous for re-naming actors like Tab Hunter and Rock Hudson — gave him the stage name “Touch Connors” at the start of his career. (“Touch” was a nickname the actor had acquired on the basketball court.) Connors disliked the name, but it wasn’t until later in his career that he was permitted to change “Touch” to “Mike.”

How did the movie “Giant” influence baby names in the 1950s?

The characters Bick and Leslie Benedict from the movie "Giant" (1956).
Bick and Leslie from “Giant

One of last week’s post featured Glenna Lee McCarthy, whose father was famous Texas oil prospector and entrepreneur Glenn McCarthy (1907-1988).

Writer Edna Ferber fictionalized Glenn’s rags-to-riches life story in her novel Giant (1952) with the character Jett Rink.

The book was later made into a movie, which came out in October of 1956.

Jett was played by James Dean, who died in a car accident a month before the film premiered.

The other two main characters were Jordan “Bick” Benedict (played by Rock Hudson) and his wife Leslie Benedict (Elizabeth Taylor). Secondary characters included the Benedicts’ son Jordan, or “Jordy” (Dennis Hopper) and a neighbor named Vashti (Jane Withers).

The movie did well at the box office and was nominated for various Academy Awards, including a posthumous Best Actor nomination for Dean. It also gave a boost to several baby names.

In 1957, the year after the movie was released, the name Jett saw its then-highest-ever usage (a level that wasn’t surpassed until the 1980s).

  • 1958: 17 baby boys named Jett
  • 1957: 24 baby boys named Jett
  • 1956: 14 baby boys named Jett
  • 1955: 5 baby boys named Jett
  • 1954: unlisted

The boy name Jordan more than doubled in usage in 1957, and the diminutive form Jordy debuted the same year:

JordanJordy
1958186 [rank: 567th].
1957207 [rank: 539th]5*
1956101 [rank: 733rd].
1955106 [rank: 712th].
1954109 [rank: 692nd].
*Debut

Leslie — which had started being given more often to baby girls than to baby boys about a decade earlier — saw its highest-ever usage as a girl name in 1957:

  • 1958: 6,010 baby girls named Leslie [rank: 79th]
  • 1957: 6,101 baby girls named Leslie [rank: 77th] (peak usage)
  • 1956: 4,386 baby girls named Leslie [rank: 104th]
  • 1955: 4,403 baby girls named Leslie [rank: 99th]
  • 1954: 4,148 baby girls named Leslie [rank: 99th]
Graph of the usage of the baby name Leslie in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Leslie

And Vashti, like Jordan, more than doubled in usage:

  • 1958: 10 baby girls named Vashti
  • 1957: 16 baby girls named Vashti
  • 1956: 7 baby girls named Vashti
  • 1955: 8 baby girls named Vashti
  • 1954: 8 baby girls named Vashti

Interestingly, Luz — another name that was used for two different characters in the movie — saw a slight decline in usage from 1956 to 1957.

Source: Giant (1956) – Wikipedia

Where did the baby name Glenalee come from in 1951?

glenna lee mccarthy, glenalee, baby name, 1950s

The baby name Glenalee was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. data in 1951. (In fact, it was tied for 1951’s top one-hit wonders of the year.)

  • 1953: unlisted
  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: 9 baby girls named Glenalee [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted
  • 1949: unlisted

Where did it come from?

An oil heiress who eloped with a cobbler’s son!

The bride was 17-year-old Glenna Lee McCarthy, daughter of famous Texas oilman Glenn McCarthy. She was a student at Lamar High School in Houston at the time.

(Glenn McCarthy was one of the men who inspired Edna Ferber to write the novel Giant in 1952. It was later made into a film starring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson.)

The groom was 19-year-old George Pontikes, son of a Greek cobbler. He had graduated from Lamar and was now attending Rice University, where he played football.

In early December, 1950, the pair ran off to Waco to be married by a justice of the peace. News of their elopement broke toward the end of the month — right around the time that Glenna’s older sister, Mary Margaret, was getting married in a much more traditional manner. (Which…could have been awkward.)

Glenna and George were in the news for several days straight at the very end of 1950. Many papers, including the New York Times, mistakenly called the bride “Glenalee McCarthy.” (Not all did, though, and the baby name Glenna saw peak usage in 1951 as a result.)

Papa Glenn McCarthy was unhappy about the elopement at first, but one paper reported that “trigger-tempered McCarthy” had “calmed down after [the] initial outburst of anger.” Perhaps he was quick to forgive because the situation was eerily familiar: He’d eloped with his own wife, the 16-year-old daughter of a wealthy oilman, back when he was a 23-year-old gas station attendant in 1930.

Do you like the name Glenalee (…even if it started out as a typo)?

Sources:

What turned Bronco into a baby name?

bronco lane, western, television,
Ty Hardin as Bronco Layne

The unlikely name Bronco first popped up in the U.S. baby name data in 1960:

  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 5 baby boys named Bronco [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: unlisted

Around the same time, the streamlined name Ty became markedly more popular:

  • 1963: 372 baby boys named Ty [rank: 417th]
  • 1962: 357 baby boys named Ty [rank: 423rd]
  • 1961: 323 baby boys named Ty [rank: 452nd]
  • 1960: 254 baby boys named Ty [rank: 495th]
  • 1959: 188 baby boys named Ty [rank: 571st]
  • 1958: 82 baby boys named Ty [rank: 831st]
  • 1957: 64 baby boys named Ty [rank: 952nd]

Both names were influenced by the same thing: TV western Bronco (1958-1962), which starred actor Ty Hardin as former Confederate officer Bronco Layne.

(The names Layne and Lane also saw upticks in usage in 1959 specifically.)

Ty Hardin was initially hired to play Bronco Layne on the series Cheyenne while there was a contract dispute going on between Warner Brothers and Cheyenne star Clint Walker. After the dispute ended and Clint returned to Cheyenne, the company decided to create a spin-off series featuring Hardin’s character.

So why was the character called “Bronco”? Here’s what the show’s theme song said: “There ain’t a horse that he can’t handle, that’s how he got his name.”

And how did Ty Hardin get his name? It wasn’t from his parents; his birth name was Orison Whipple Hungerford. Here’s one explanation:

He took the name Ty Hardin — according to some news accounts, Ty was short for a childhood nickname, Typhoon, and Hardin was a reference to the western outlaw John Wesley Hardin — after signing with Warner Bros.

Another explanation is simply that his agent was Henry Willson, who had a knack for coining catchy stage names (e.g., Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter).

Sources: Bronco (TV series) – Wikipedia, Ty Hardin, rugged actor who played Bronco Layne in TV westerns, dies at 87