In the 1960s, comic books were on their way out in the United States. But they were still going strong in Latin America.
In fact, one of Latin America’s best-selling comic books, Lágrimas, risas y amor (transl. Tears, Laughter and Love), was introduced in Mexico in late 1962.
Lágrimas, risas y amor was created by Yolanda Vargas Dulché. It featured romantic stories, each of which had its own unique set of characters. And, believe it or not, some of these stories ended up influencing U.S. baby names, particularly in states with large Spanish-speaking populations (like California and Texas). Here are some examples:
“Yesenia” (1965-1966) told the love story of Yesenia, a gypsy, and Osvaldo, a Mexican soldier. In 1966, we see the name Yesenia appear for the first time in the U.S. baby name data:
1968: 13 baby girls named Yesenia
1967: 12 baby girls named Yesenia
1966: 17 baby girls named Yesenia [debut]
I don’t know anything about the plot of “Geisha” (1967), but the baby name Geisha first appeared in the U.S. data the same year:
1967: 8 baby girls named Geisha [debut]
“El atardecer de Ana Luisa” (transl. “Ana Luisa’s Middle Years”) (1971) told the story of Ana Luisa, who lost her boyfriend to another woman when she was young, but got him back years later. There’s a gap between the publication and the debut of the compound name Analuisa, but I still think it’s likely that the two events are connected.
1973: 5 baby girls named Analuisa [debut]
…And it doesn’t end there! Many Lágrimas, risas y amor stories were later adapted for TV and film, giving them extra (and much bigger) rounds of exposure. Some examples:
The comic “María Isabel” (1964) featured a character named Rosa Isela. It became a telenovela in 1966, and a year later the compound name Rosaisela first emerged in the data:
1968: 5 baby girls named Rosaisela
1967: 9 baby girls named Rosaisela [debut]
“Yesenia” became a telenovela in 1970 and a movie in 1971. The one-two punch of both of these pieces of media, both made in Mexico, resulted in an huge increase in the usage of Yesenia in the United States:
1973: 343 baby girls named Yesenia [rank: 503rd]
1972: 471 baby girls named Yesenia [rank: 414th]
1971: 526 baby girls named Yesenia [rank: 410th]
1970: 30 baby girls named Yesenia
1969: 9 baby girls named Yesenia
The comic “El pecado de Oyuki” (transl. “The Sin of Oyuki”) (1975-1977) became a telenovela in 1987. It first aired in the U.S. on Univision, and the same year the name Oyuki debuted in the U.S. data:
1989: 8 baby girls named Oyuki
1988: 20 baby girls named Oyuki
1987: 6 baby girls named Oyuki [debut]
Yesenia (yet again)
“Yesenia” was made into yet another telenovela in 1987, and this resulted in the name’s highest-ever usage in the U.S. the same year:
1989: 1,303 baby girls named Yesenia [rank: 204th]
1988: 1,208 baby girls named Yesenia [rank: 215th]
1987: 2,003 baby girls named Yesenia [rank: 137th]
1986: 845 baby girls named Yesenia [rank: 293rd]
1985: 522 baby girls named Yesenia [rank: 422nd]
The comic “Casandra” (which came out during the ’80s) was adapted as Alondra for TV in 1995. It was renamed in honor of Yolanda Vargas Dulché’s granddaughter, orchestra conductor Alondra de la Parra. The same year, the popularity of the name Alondra (the Spanish word for “lark”) rose considerably:
1997: 1,837 baby girls named Alondra [rank: 167th]
1996: 2,020 baby girls named Alondra [rank: 157th]
1995: 1,205 baby girls named Alondra [rank: 238th]
1994: 149 baby girls named Alondra
1993: 193 baby girls named Alondra [rank: 972nd]
“María Isabel” was made into yet another telenovela in 1997. A year later, the name saw its highest-ever U.S. usage:
2000: 20 baby girls named Rosaisela
1999: 33 baby girls named Rosaisela
1998: 51 baby girls named Rosaisela [peak]
1997: 10 baby girls named Rosaisela
1996: 10 baby girls named Rosaisela
…Do you know anyone who was named with one of these comics or telenovelas in mind? Which name did they get?
Foster, David William. (Ed.) Handbook of Latin American Literature. New York: Routledge, 2015.
Hinds, Harold E. and Charles M. Tatum. Not Just for Children: The Mexican Comic Book in the Late 1960s and 1970s. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992.
Dale Dale Fuller was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in California in 1885. Her birth name was Marie Dale Phillipps. Dale was also a character name in multiple films, including Top Hat (1935) and King of Alcatraz (1938).
Derelys Derelys Perdue was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in Missouri in 1902. Her birth name was Geraldine Perdue. Derelys was also a character played by actress Lilyan Tashman in the film Take Me Home (1928).
Usage of the baby name Derelys (which debuted in the data in 1924).
Deria Deria was a character played by actress Julia Dean in the film Experiment Perilous (1944).
Despina Despina was the 114-year-old woman featured in the short documentary The Weavers (1905), believed to be the first motion picture shot in the Balkans. (There’s no proof of Despina’s year of birth, but if she really was 114 years old, then she’s the earliest-born person ever filmed.)
Dolly Dolly Larkin was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in New York in 1889. Her birth name was Margaret Larkin. Dolly was also a character played by actress Cleo Madison in the short film The Ring of Destiny (1915).
Dolores Dolores del Rio was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1970s. She was born in Mexico in 1904. Dolores Moran was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1950s. She was born in California in 1926. Dolores was also a character played by actress Hedy Lamarr in the film Tortilla Flat (1942).
Dolorita Dolorita was a dancer who appeared in films in the 1890s and 1900s. Her first film, The Dolorita Passion Dance (1897), was the first motion picture to be banned in the United States. (It was banned in Atlantic City specifically.)
Domini Domini was a character played by various actresses (such as Helen Ware and Marlene Dietrich) in various movies called The Garden of Allah, all based on the 1904 novel of the same name by Robert Smythe Hichens.
Donia Donia Bussey was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1950s. She was born in Ohio in 1899. Donia was also a character played by actress Edith Storey in the short film The Chains of an Oath (1913).
Dorinda Dorinda Clifton was an actress who appeared in films in the 1940s and 1950s. She was born in California in 1928. Dorinda was also a character name in multiple films, including Rosemary, That’s for Remembrance (1914) and The Farmer’s Daughter (1940).
Dorothea Dorothea Kent was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1940s. She was born in Missouri in 1916. Dorothea was also a character name in multiple films, including The Heart of a Child (1915) and Broken in the Wars (1919).
The girl name Prosperity adds up to 161, which reduces to eight (1+6+1=8).
8 via 170
The boy name Josephanthony adds up to 170, which reduces to eight (1+7+0=8).
8 via 197
The girl name Moyosoreoluwa adds up to 197, which reduces to eight (1+9+7=17; 1+7=8).
What Does “8” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “8” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “8” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“8” (the octad) according to the Pythagoreans:
“They used to call the ogdoad [group of eight] ’embracer of all harmonies’ because of this marvellous attunement, or because it is the first to have been attuned and multiplied so as to be equal-times-equal-times-equal, which is a most lawful generation. So when they call it ‘Cadmean,’ they should be understood to be referring to the fact that, as all historians tell us, Harmonia was the wife of Cadmus.”
“The number 8 is the source of the musical ratios”
“All the ways in which it is put together are excellent and equilibrated tunings.”
“The ogdoad is called ‘safety’ and ‘foundation,’ since it is a leader, because two is a leader: the seed of the ogdoad is the first even number.”
“They used to call the ogdoad ‘mother, ‘ perhaps [because] even number is female”
“The eighth sphere encompasses the whole ‘ hence the saying ‘All is eight.'”
“8” according to Edgar Cayce:
“Eight – a money number” (reading 261-14).
“Eight indicates the commercial change” (reading 261-15).
“This brings eight as a vibration for the entity that means an awakening within the inner self to the new possibilities, the new opportunities within self that may make for not only carrying with it the abilities but the obligations of same as well. For to whom much is given in any manifested form, of him much is required” (reading 707-1).
Does “8” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 35, 44, 71, 143) — have any special significance to you?
Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe you like how “35” (i.e., 35 mm format) reminds you of photography and film, for example.
Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.
If you have any interesting insights about the number 8, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).
New Orleans dogs are often the namesakes of the cuisine (Gumbo, Roux, Beignet, Po-Boy, Boudin); the Saints (Brees, Payton, Deuce); music (Toussaint, Jazz, Satchmo); streets (Clio, Tchoupitoulas, Calliope); neighborhoods (Pearl, Touro, Gert) and Mardi Gras krewes (Zulu, Rex, Bacchus).
At any given moment, the trucks are working away to keep Scotland’s roads safe, with their progress available for all to see on an online map [the Trunk Road Gritter Tracker], which updates in real time. But a closer look at this map, with its jaunty yellow vehicles, reveals something still more charming: An awful lot of these salt trucks have very, very good names. Gritty Gritty Bang Bang is putting in the hard yards near Aberuthven. Dynamic duo Ice Buster and Ice Destroyer are making themselves useful near Glasgow and Loch Lomond. Three trucks apparently hold knighthoods–Sir Salter Scott, Sir Andy Flurry, Sir Grits-a-Lot. At least two (Ice Queen and Mrs. McGritter) are female. Every one is excellent.
(Some of the other gritter names are: For Your Ice Only, Grits-n-Pieces, Grittalica, Grittie McVittie, Luke Snowalker, Plougher O’ Scotland, Ready Spready Go, Salty Tom, and Sprinkles.)
No doubt the popularity of the name Brenton interstate and in the US is down to the paddleboat TV drama All the Rivers Run, which starred John Waters as captain Brenton Edwards and Sigrid Thornton as Philadelphia Gordon.
The miniseries first ran on Australian television in October 1983 and was later broadcast on the American channel HBO in January 1984.
(Indeed, the name Brenton saw peak usage in the U.S. in 1984, and the name Philadelphia debuted the same year.)
Once upon a time the list of top 100 names in a year used to capture nearly 90 per cent of the boys born, and three-quarters of girls. Now it’s less than half of either gender.
The reason is an explosion in variety, with multiculturalism and parents’ desire for individuality seeing the pool of baby names grow from 4252 in 1957 to 16,676 today. That’s 300% more names for only 30% more babies being born.
Professor Jo Lindsay from Monash University has researched naming practices in Australia and said parents today had more freedom and fewer family expectations than previous generations.
They were, in order, Cretta in 1910, Leland in 1912, Rosa in 1913, Woodrow in 1916, Wilmar in 1918, Joseph in 1919, Dorothy in 1921 and Virginia in 1923.
The second wave included Irving in 1924, Blanche in 1925, C.D. in 1927, Geraldine in 1928, Marverine in 1930, Billy in 1932, Tom in 1934 and Gene in 1938.
Gene Autry Sullivan, the youngest of the children and the one who organizes the reunion each year, said he was told he was named after legendary cowboy movie star Gene Autry “because his parents had run out of names by then.”
(The post about Sierra includes a photo of Gene Autry.)
Recently I was asked to give a talk to students at a mostly white school. I’d been in back-and-forth email contact with one of the teachers for ages. My full name, Bilal Harry Khan, comes up in email communication. I’d signed off all our emails as Bilal and introduced myself to him that way too. He had been addressing me as Bilal in these emails the entire time. But as he got up to introduce me to a whole assembly hall of teachers and students, he suddenly said, “Everyone, this is Harry.”