The Emmy Award-winning television series Room 222 (1969-1974) was set at a racially diverse high school in Los Angeles. Ahead of its time in terms of realism and authenticity, the show frequently dealt with topical issues such as civil rights, women’s rights, drug use, and the Vietnam War.
We don’t hear much about Room 222 these days, but the series did leave a mark on baby names. Here are three Room 222-associated debuts I’ve spotted so far:
The show’s second episode, “Naked Came We Into the World” (Sept. 1969), featured a character named Howie Wong played by actor Keone (pronounced kee-oh-nee) Young. The same year, the name Keone started appearing in the U.S. baby name data:
1971: 5 baby boys named Keone
all 5 born in Hawaii
1970: 6 baby boys named Keone
1969: 6 baby boys named Keone [debut]
5 born in Hawaii
Keone Young is a native of Hawaii, and the Hawaiian name Keone means “the sand” or, by extension, “the homeland.”
Actress Ta-Tanisha, who played the character Pam Simpson, was featured in dozens of episodes from 1969 to 1972. (She was also on other TV shows — Mod Squad, Mission Impossible, The Partridge Family, Good Times, etc. — during the same time period.) The name Tatanisha started appearing in the data in 1970:
1972: 111 baby girls named Tatanisha [peak usage]
1971: 57 baby girls named Tatanisha
1970: 9 baby girls named Tatanisha [debut]
Usage of the similar name Tanisha also rose drastically during this time:
1972: 629 baby girls named Tanisha [rank: 352nd]
1971: 374 baby girls named Tanisha [rank: 506th]
1970: 129 baby girls named Tanisha [rank: 978th]
1969: 27 baby girls named Tanisha
1968: 12 baby girls named Tanisha
Ta-Tanisha was born Shirley Cummings; her stage name is based on the Swahili word tatanisha, meaning “perplexing,” “confusing.” (The translation sometimes offered to the press was “the puzzling one.”)
Actor Heshimu, who played the character Jason Allen, was featured in ninety episodes from 1969 to 1974. The name Heshimu started appearing in the data in 1971:
1973: 9 baby boys named Heshimu
1972: 15 baby boys named Heshimu
1971: 6 baby boys named Heshimu [debut]
Heshimu’s name is based on the Swahili word heshimu, meaning “respect.”
In March of 2006, a Scottish woman named Shirley Anne Hodge went into labor amid wintry weather that turned the 40-minute drive to Ayrshire Central Hospital into a trek that “took four hours and involved three vehicles, including a helicopter.” (The other two vehicles were an ambulance and a police jeep, both of which got stuck in snow.)
After the airlift, she gave birth to a baby girl at the hospital.
The baby’s name? Skye.
My hunch is that the name was a nod to the helicopter ride, though my source didn’t state that explicitly.
(Another potential influence might be Scotland’s Isle of Skye.)
The name Shirelle debuted impressively in the U.S. baby name data 1961:
1963: 25 baby girls named Shirelle
1962: 19 baby girls named Shirelle
1961: 21 baby girls named Shirelle [debut]
The variant spelling Shirell debuted that year as well.
What influenced both of these names?
The Shirelles, a New Jersey-based girl-group made up teenagers named Shirley, Doris, Addie, and Beverly.
Signed in the late ’50s, the foursome became famous in the early ’60s with a string of hits including “Tonight’s the Night,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in early 1961), and “Mama Said.”
The group’s name was created by combining the “Shir-” of Shirley (the primary lead singer) with a trendy “-elle” ending. The result was reminiscent of the name of the New York fivesome The Chantels.
Which name do you like better, Shirelle or Chantel?
“150” boy names: Ibukunoluwa, Luisenrique, Morireoluwa, Oluwamayowa
6 via 159
The following baby names add up to 159, which reduces to six (1+5+9=15; 1+5=6).
“159” girl names: Krystalynn, Charlotterose
6 via 168
The following baby names add up to 168, which reduces to six (1+6+8=15; 1+5=6).
“168” girl names: Oluwasemilore, Chrysanthemum
“168” boy names: Quintavious, Oluwasemilore
6 via 177
The girl name Oluwajomiloju adds up to 177, which reduces to six (1+7+7=15; 1+5=6).
What Does “6” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “6” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “6” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“6” (the hexad) according to the Pythagoreans:
“They rightly call it ‘reconciliation’: for it weaves together male and female by blending, and not by juxtaposition as the pentad does. And it is plausibly called ‘peace,’ and a much earlier name for it, based on the fact that it organizes things, was ‘universe’: for the universe, like 6, is often seen as composed of opposites in harmony”
“They also called it ‘health’ and ‘anvil’ (as it were, the unwearying one), because it is reasonable to think that the most fundamental triangles of the elements of the universe partake in it, since each triangle is six, if it is divided by three perpendiculars”
“It arises out of the first even and first odd numbers, male and female, as a product and by multiplication; hence it is called ‘androgynous.'”
“It is also called ‘marriage,’ in the strict sense that it arises not by addition, as the pentad does, but by multiplication. Moreover, it is called ‘marriage’ because it is equal to its own parts, and it is the function of marriage to make offspring similar to parents.”
“They also called it…’measurer of time in twos’ because of the distribution of all time, which is accomplished by a hexad of zodiacal signs over the Earth and another under the Earth, or because time, since it has three parts [past, present, future], is assimilated to the triad, and the hexad arises from two threes.”
“It is also called ‘Thaleia’ [etym. Greek, “the plentiful one”] because of its harmonizing different things, and ‘panacea,’ either because of its connection with health…or as it were self-sufficiency, because it has been furnished with parts sufficient for wholeness.”
“6” according to Edgar Cayce:
“Six – the strength of a three, with a helpful influence” (reading 261-14).
“Six being the changes that have been made in the double strength of three” (reading 261-15).
“Six – again makes for the beauty and the symmetrical forces of all numbers, making for strength” (reading 5751-1).
Does “6” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 33, 42, 96, 123) — have any special significance to you?
Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. For example, maybe your favorite book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which highlights the number 42.
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 6, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).
Just remember that the SSA data doesn’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t reflect reality all that well.
Same format as usual: Girl names on the left, boy names on the right. Numbers represent single-year decreases in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, usage of the girl name Mary dropped by 146 babies and usage of the boy name William dropped by 1,008 babies.
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and will write about others in the future. In the meanwhile, feel free to beat me to it! Comment below with the backstory on the fall of Shirley in the late ’30s, Linda in the early ’50s, etc.