In the mid-1970s, the name Tavares suddenly popped up in the U.S. baby name data:
1978: 163 baby boys named Tavares
1977: 169 baby boys (peak) named Tavares
1976: 169 baby boys (peak) / 5 baby girls named Tavares
1975: 162 baby boys / 10 baby girls named Tavares
1974: 60 baby boys / 8 baby girls named Tavares [dual-debut]
What was behind the debut?
Tavares, a soul/R&B music group consisting of the five Tavares brothers: Ralph, Arthur (called “Pooch”), Antone (“Chubby”), Feliciano (“Butch”), and Perry (“Tiny”).
They scored their first hit in 1974 with a cover of the Hall & Oates song “She’s Gone.” The cover reached #1 on Billboard‘s R&B chart and peaked at #50 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. Over the next few years, the brothers put out a string of successful songs, including “It Only Takes a Minute” (1975) and “Whodunit” (1977).
The Tavares brothers were born and raised in New England, but were of Cape Verdean ancestry. Their Portuguese surname was originally a “habitational name from any of at least seven minor places” in Portugal called Tavares.
The gritty TV police drama Toma, which starred actor Tony Musante as New Jersey police detective David Toma, started airing in 1973.
The year the show premiered, the baby name Toma, which had only ever appeared in the data as a girl name, started seeing usage as a boy name. It even cracked the boys’ top 1,000 briefly.
Girls named Toma
Boys named Toma
84 [rank: 884th]
But usage returned to pre-Toma levels after the series was canceled in 1974.
In 1975, a retooled version of Toma called Baretta came out. The new show, which starred Robert Blake as New York City police detective Tony Baretta, was less violent and included more comic relief than the original. (Baretta had a pet cockatoo named Fred, and one of his informants was a man called Rooster.)
In response, the name Baretta debuted in the baby name data, and it remained there for the same number of years the Emmy-winning series was on the air (1975-1978).
1978: 8 baby boys named Baretta
1977: 13 baby boys named Baretta
1976: 6 baby girls / 13 baby boys named Baretta
1975: 14 baby girls [debut] / 18 baby boys [debut] named Baretta