How popular is the baby name Sammy 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 Sammy.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Sammy


Posts that Mention the Name Sammy

How did “Tattletales” influence baby names in the 1970s?

scoey, baby name, 1970s, television
Scoey & Claire on Tattletales in Aug. 1974

So far we’ve looked at baby names associated with the game shows What’s My Line?, Card Sharks, and Press Your Luck, so today let’s check out names given a boost by Tattletales, which originally aired from 1974 to 1978.

Tattletales featured three celebrity couples competing against each another for a full week, which is notable. The couples were split up, and either the men or the women were asked a question — often a provocative one — while their partners were offstage. The partners were then brought in via TV camera and asked the same question. Each couple’s objective was to come up with as many matching answers as possible.

As one source put it: “Famous celebrities revealing their intimate secrets on national television made Tattletales a success.” And with all those people watching, it’s not surprising that the show had an influence on baby names…

Dareth
Dareth Rich and her husband, actor Anthony Newley, were on 10 episodes in 1975, starting in May. The name Dareth debuted in the baby data the same year.

Chevi
Chevi Colton and her husband, actor Joe Silver, were on 5 episodes in November of 1975. The name Chevi debuted in the data the same year.

Scoey
Actor Scoey (SKOH-ee) Mitchell and his wife Claire Thomas were on the show dozens of times, including 15 episodes in 1974, starting in June. Mitchell had been appearing elsewhere on TV since the late ’60s, but the name Scoey didn’t debut in the data until 1974. (One source noted that “Scoey” was short for “Roscoe.”)

Bernnadette
Actress BernNadette Stanis and her then-husband Tom Fauntleroy were on 5 episodes in November of 1975 (the week before Chevi, in fact). Stanis had been playing the role of Thelma on Good Times since early 1974, but the name Bernnadette didn’t debut in the data until 1976.

I also think there are connections between the appearances of Altovise Davis (wife of singer Sammy Davis Jr.), Nalani Kele (wife of comedian Shecky Greene), Reiko Douglas (wife of comedy writer Jack Douglas), and Tiana Alexandra (wife of screenwriter Stirling Silliphant) and the respective rises in usage of Altovise, Nalani, Reiko, and Tiana in the mid-’70s.

Speaking of rises…

The show was rebooted in the early ’80s, and it looks like one of those ’80s contestants triggered that steep rise in usage of the name Jere in 1982:

  • 1984: 18 baby girls named Jere
  • 1983: 33 baby girls named Jere
  • 1982: 66 baby girls named Jere [peak]
  • 1981: 6 baby girls named Jere
  • 1980: 8 baby girls named Jere

In February of 1982, actress Jerelyn “Jere” Fields appeared on Tattletales with actor/comedian Jimmie Walker (who’d played Thelma’s brother J.J. on Good Times). They weren’t romantically involved — just paired up for the show — but their appearance together sparked rumors that they were dating.

…So which game show should I tackle next? Suggestions welcome!

Source: Baber, David. Television Game Show Hosts. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008.

Fastest-rising U.S. baby names (relative increase), 1881 to today

arrow, increase

Many years ago, I published a list of the top debut baby names. A few years after that, I posted a list of the top one-hit wonder baby names.

So today let’s check out another fun set of “top” names: the top rises. The names below are those that increased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next according to the SSA data.

Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year jumps in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Isa grew 240% and usage of the boy name Noble grew 333%.)

  • 1881: Isa, 240%; Noble, 333%
  • 1882: Clementine, 300%; Clarance, 300%
  • 1883: Malissa, 243%; Alf, 150%
  • 1884: Belva, 1,220%; Grover, 532%
  • 1885: Phebe, 220%; Bryant, 200%
  • 1886: Felicia, 180%; Thornton, 240%
  • 1887: Ossie, 240%; Aubrey, 240%
  • 1888: Bennie, 250%; Thurman, 414%
  • 1889: Diana, 233%; Grady, 267%
  • 1890: Easter, 238%; Isaiah, 215%
  • 1891: Lutie, 200%; Colonel, 217%
  • 1892: Lollie, 271%; Pierce, 340%
  • 1893: Annabell, 240%; Lindsay, 320%
  • 1894: Versie, 320%; Alvie, 233%
  • 1895: Glenn, 283%; Alma, 220%
  • 1896: Vernice, 217%; Hobart, 744%
  • 1897: Sigrid, 200%; Roswell, 183%
  • 1898: Manila, 1,386%; Dewey, 606%
  • 1899: Tula, 280%; Rogers, 220%
  • 1900: Rosia, 480%; Wilber, 417%
  • 1901: Dellie, 180%; Kermit, 183%
  • 1902: Lolita, 420%; Judge, 260%
  • 1903: Rafaela, 280%; Jordan, 250%
  • 1904: Amber, 314%; Adelbert, 260%
  • 1905: Orma, 300%; Armand, 222%
  • 1906: Ena, 456%; Sheldon, 240%
  • 1907: Lota & Tula, 240%; Quincy, 183%
  • 1908: Bernetta & Nila, 260%; Taft, 288%
  • 1909: Laverna & Nevada, 267%; Toney, 300%
  • 1910: Cleopatra, 240%; Arturo & Sammy, 283%
  • 1911: Maryellen, 280%; Vincenzo & Wyman, 320%
  • 1912: Marina, 420%; Woodrow, 1,423%
  • 1913: Carroll, 263%; Rosendo, 320%
  • 1914: Lucyle, 280%; Irvine, 333%
  • 1915: Zudora, 460%; Charlton, 320%
  • 1916: Aldena, 291%; Tatsuo, 850%
  • 1917: Liberty, 617%; Masami, 338%
  • 1918: Kazuko, 320%; Quentin, 567%
  • 1919: Verbie, 300%; Belvin, 360%
  • 1920: Marcene, 386%; Harding, 718%
  • 1921: Elwanda, 1,860%; Gareth, 560%
  • 1922: Carley, 320%; Colie, 340%
  • 1923: Eris, 1,313%; Coolidge, 820%
  • 1924: Janeth, 517%; Phyllis, 260%
  • 1925: Murlene & Normalee, 260%; Estell & Unknown, 214%
  • 1926: Ileana, 633%; Jarrell & Lenoard, 240%
  • 1927: Charmaine, 825%; Lindbergh, 867%
  • 1928: Jeannine, 1,147%; Hoover, 522%
  • 1929: Dorla, 800%; Davey, 889%
  • 1930: Arlayne, 317%; Derl, 1,060%
  • 1931: Marlene, 745%; Colbert, 280%
  • 1932: Harlene, 270%; Delano, 1,057%
  • 1933: Sharleen, 425%; Delano, 289%
  • 1934: Adriana, 283%; Kelvin, 360%
  • 1935: Norita, 1,171%; Darwyn, 458%
  • 1936: Shelba, 2,667%; Lonzie, 320%
  • 1937: Deanna, 2,009%; Tyrone, 788%

The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does get a lot more accurate starting in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…

  • 1938: Danielle, 878%; Dion, 355%
  • 1939: Brenda, 308%; Hall, 280%
  • 1940: Scarlett, 743%; Clemmie, 257%
  • 1941: Jerilyn, 1,250%; Rulon, 250%
  • 1942: Michal, 1,520%; Macarthur, 2,740%
  • 1943: Shaaron, 456%; Suzanne, 240%
  • 1944: Dorinda, 568%; Kennedy, 280%
  • 1945: Lauren, 709%; Dorian, 220%
  • 1946: Jacalyn, 740%; Cornel, 533%
  • 1947: Jolinda, 388%; Brock, 364%
  • 1948: Sharman, 275%; Kevan, 260%
  • 1949: Lorry, 360%; Hanson, 240%
  • 1950: Vallorie, 717%; Brion, 400%
  • 1951: Krystal, 588%; Denise, 350%
  • 1952: Pandora, 1,100%; Corby & Wilhelm, 240%
  • 1953: Angelique, 1,157%; Shane, 392%
  • 1954: Sheree, 756%; Dain, 360%
  • 1955: Sabrina, 711%; Davy, 509%
  • 1956: Venetia, 543%; Cheyenne, 680%
  • 1957: Tammy, 1,591%; Tammy, 467%
  • 1958: Keely, 1,100%; Bret, 680%
  • 1959: Torri, 411%; Efrem, 963%
  • 1960: Lisha, 1,096%; Stephon, 1,200%
  • 1961: Marisol, 481%; Parrish, 1,460%
  • 1962: Penne, 447%; Chance, 350%
  • 1963: Tamiko, 1,440%; Tal, 617%
  • 1964: Deneen, 7,191%; Temple, 420%
  • 1965: Fontella, 880%; Branden, 340%
  • 1966: Tabatha, 9,900%; Heath, 1,070%
  • 1967: Anisa, 1,600%; Garrison, 320%
  • 1968: Coretta, 2,485%; Dustin, 778%
  • 1969: Lalena, 640%; Jeromy, 514%
  • 1970: Shiloh, 540%; Jermaine, 3,320%
  • 1971: Ashli, 1,900%; Jermaine, 494%
  • 1972: Catina, 9,033%; Demond, 3,920%
  • 1973: Cicely, 1,827%; Caine, 780%
  • 1974: Nakia, 16,100%; Rashad, 1,100%
  • 1975: Rasheda, 988%; Jamaal, 688%
  • 1976: Rhiannon, 1,713%; Seneca, 1,429%
  • 1977: Shawntae, 686%; Lavar, 5,480%
  • 1978: Aja, 3,407%; Dequan, 988%
  • 1979: Renada, 780%; Yoel, 525%
  • 1980: Genese, 1,920%; Rayshaun, 440%
  • 1981: Krystle, 1,623%; Cavin, 833%
  • 1982: Jere, 1,000%; Colt, 1,620%
  • 1983: Ciji, 2,950%; Remington, 657%
  • 1984: Santana, 3,467%; Ryne, 424%
  • 1985: Kayleigh, 2,914%; Jaymes, 769%
  • 1986: Kyrie, 3,180%; Orry, 789%
  • 1987: Janay, 1,168%; Jareth, 400%
  • 1988: Whitley, 916%; Nico, 860%
  • 1989: Audriana, 3,467%; Alexande, 4,917%
  • 1990: Alannah, 1,583%; Tevin, 4,569%
  • 1991: Tanairi, 820%; Devante, 1,356%
  • 1992: Darian, 703%; Jalen, 3,980%
  • 1993: Coraima, 4,320%; Savon, 2,457%
  • 1994: Aaliyah, 6,495%; Romario, 1,940%
  • 1995: Iridian, 1,845%; Tristin, 747%
  • 1996: Alanis, 1,047%; Json, 880%
  • 1997: Yulisa, 2,729%, Ennis, 620%
  • 1998: Jazsmin, 960%; Denilson, 900%
  • 1999: Tionne, 1,100%; Sincere, 647%
  • 2000: Litzy, 1,189%; Elian, 2,413%
  • 2001: Nevaeh, 1,111%; Jaheim, 5,440%
  • 2002: Lashanti, 2,060%; Omarion, 8,260%
  • 2003: Azeneth, 1,913%; Andon, 2,200%
  • 2004: Betzaida, 1,233%; Jakwon, 1,260%
  • 2005: Mikalah, 1,906%; Talan, 2,130%
  • 2006: Bethzy; 2,636%; Dereon, 1,217%
  • 2007: Jaslene, 9,920%; Leonidas & Renner, 700%
  • 2008: Dayami, 3,464%; Barack, 940%
  • 2009: Baya, 1,020%; Dhani, 520%
  • 2010: Collins, 1,557%; Bentlee, 733%
  • 2011: Thaily, 1,400%; Neymar, 900%
  • 2012: Cataleya, 2,182%; Long, 740%
  • 2013: Daleyza, 1,055%; Jaiceon, 1,057%
  • 2014: Aranza, 1,297%; Jameis, 720%
  • 2015: Vail, 700%; Rhydian, 667%
  • 2016: Kehlani, 571%; Kylo, 580%
  • 2017: Westlynn, 600%; Oseias, 1,080%
  • 2018: Maleni, 950%; Atreus, 1,888%
  • 2019: Yalitza, 1,490%; Ermias, 3,360%
  • 2020: Ehlani, 2,100%; Omere, 460%
  • 2021: Thyri, 1,033%; Calian, 914%

(Did you catch all the doubles? Tula, Delano, Tammy, Jermaine, and Davey/Davy.)

I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about many of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it! Leave a comment and let us know what popularized Dorla in 1929, or Lauren in 1945, or Dustin in 1968, or Kayleigh in 1985, or Talan in 2005…

Babies named after Oprah’s boyfriend?

Stedman on Oprah, 1989
Stedman on Oprah, 1989

According to Wikipedia, Stedman Graham is an “educator, author, businessman and speaker.” But without Wikipedia’s help, how would you describe Stedman? That’s right: “Oprah’s boyfriend.”

Oprah began dating Stedman in mid-1986, a few months before The Oprah Winfrey Show premiered. We’ve already seen how the baby name Oprah debuted on the national list that year, but did you know that the talk show gave the baby name Stedman a boost as well?

  • 1991: 28 baby boys named Stedman
  • 1990: 38 baby boys named Stedman
  • 1989: 82 baby boys named Stedman
  • 1988: 29 baby boys named Stedman
  • 1987: 20 baby boys named Stedman
  • 1986: unlisted

Not only did Stedman reappear on the national baby name list in 1987 after a 48-year absence, but the variant names Steadman, Stedmen, Stedmon and Stedmond all followed suit in 1988.

And what accounts for the Stedman spike of 1989?

In February of that year, Stedman appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show for the first time. The episode was about “men who marry or date famous women, and how they cope with it.” The other guests were actress Susan Lucci and her husband Helmut, and singer Barbara Mandrell and her husband Ken. (Here’s the episode, if you want to watch.)

While usage of the name Stedman has tapered off since 1989, the relationship between Oprah and Stedman is still going strong nearly 3 decades later. They attended the Oscars together last month, in fact.

Stedman is one several “significant other” baby names I’ve spotted on the SSA’s baby name list so far. Others include Josanne, Movita and Tarita (all associated with Marlon Brando), Syreeta and Londie (both associated with Stevie Wonder), Loray and Altovise (both associated with Sammy Davis, Jr.), one-hit wonder Kayatana (girlfriend of Flip Wilson), Marva (first wife of Joe Louis) and Sonji (first wife of Muhammad Ali). Stedman is unique, though, in that it’s a male name that was popularized by a famous female — not a common scenario, it seems.

Sources: Stedman Graham – Wikipedia, Oprah’s Beau Drops In Her Main Squeeze Meets Star’s Tv ‘Family’

Are baby names influenced by hurricane names?

hurricane

Yes.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, baby names starting with the letter K increased in popularity by 9%.

After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, baby names starting with A increased in popularity by 7%.

People weren’t naming their children after the storms. (Usage of both Katrina and Andrew decreased after each respective hurricane.)

But people did suddenly have an affinity for like-sounding names.

Why?

Because we like familiar things. (Remember the name-letter effect?) When a named storm is in the news, we hear that name repeatedly. If it’s a particularly bad storm, we hear the name constantly.

And as the name becomes more familiar to us, we start to like it more and more. (Even if we don’t realize it!)

So in 2012, we shouldn’t necessarily expect the usage of the name Sandy to increase.

But we might see an uptick in the number of babies given names similar to Sandy — names like Sarah, Sammy, Sydney, Mandy and Brandy.

Source: Hurricanes and Hot Baby Names

(I also mentioned this research in Name Quotes for the Weekend #3.)

What gave the baby name Vidalia a boost in 1997?

The rare name Vidalia returned to the U.S. baby name data in 1996, then saw a spike in usage the very next year:

  • 1999: 6 baby girls named Vidalia
  • 1998: 13 baby girls named Vidalia
  • 1997: 17 baby girls named Vidalia
  • 1996: 11 baby girls named Vidalia
  • 1995: unlisted
  • 1994: unlisted

That 1997 high-point remained Vidalia’s peak usage for over two decades.

What inspired this sudden interest in the name Vidalia?

The country song “Vidalia” (pronounced vie-DAYL-ya) by Sammy Kershaw. The song was released in mid-1996 and, later the same year, reached #10 on Billboard‘s “Hot Country Songs” chart.

The song is about a girl named Vidalia whose parents combined their own names (“Your dear mama Violet/And your proud daddy Dale”) to come up with a name that happened to be the name of an onion — an unusually sweet onion, but an onion nonetheless (“Sweet Vidalia/You always gotta make me cry”).

The Vidalia onion — Georgia’s official state vegetable — was first discovered/grown near Vidalia, Georgia, in the early 1930s. (In fact, an old Atlanta Journal-Constitution article reveals that 5 of the baby Vidalias born between 1990 and 2008 were born in Georgia specifically.)

The town of Vidalia may have been named in honor of Spanish aristocrat Don José Vidal, or after Vidalia, Louisiana (which itself was named for Vidal).

The surname Vidal can be traced back to the Latin personal name Vitalis, which comes from the Latin word vita, meaning “life.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Vidalia?

Sources:

(h/t to Jack in the comments for letting me know about the song!)

[Latest Update: Aug. 2021]