How did Mexican comic books influence U.S. baby names?

Partial cover of the comic book "Lágrimas, risas y amor" #78, featuring the story "María Isabel" (1964).
One of the “María Isabel” covers

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

“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]
  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: unlisted

Geisha

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:

  • 1969: unlisted
  • 1968: unlisted
  • 1967: 8 baby girls named Geisha [debut]
  • 1966: unlisted
  • 1965: unlisted
Partial cover of the comic book "Lágrimas, risas y amor" #279, featuring the story "Geisha" (1967).
One of the “Geisha” covers

Analuisa

“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.

  • 1975: unlisted
  • 1974: unlisted
  • 1973: 5 baby girls named Analuisa [debut]
  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: unlisted

…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:

Rosaisela

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:

  • 1969: unlisted
  • 1968: 5 baby girls named Rosaisela
  • 1967: 9 baby girls named Rosaisela [debut]
  • 1966: unlisted
  • 1965: unlisted

Yesenia (again)

“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

Oyuki

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]
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted

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]

Alondra

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]

Rosaisela (again)

“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?

Sources:

  • 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.
  • Lágrimas, risas y amor – Wikipedia

Images adapted from Lagrimas, Risas y Amor #78 and Lagrimas, Risas y Amor #279 from the Grand Comics Database under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Where did the baby name Thielen come from?

The name Thielen is relatively new to the U.S. baby name data, having debuted in 2018:

  • 2020: 14 baby boys named Thielen
  • 2019: 34 baby boys named Thielen
    • 12 born in Minnesota, 5 born in South Dakota
  • 2018: 21 baby boys named Theilen [debut]
    • 10 born in Minnesota
  • 2017: unlisted
  • 2016: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Professional football player Adam Thielen, who’s been a wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings since 2013. His surname is pronounced THEE-len (the “th” is unvoiced, as in the words theme, or three).

He’s a Minnesota native who also played football for Minnesota State University (2009-2012), so it seems appropriate that a good proportion of the usage has occurred in Minnesota specifically. :)

Adam Thielen’s breakout season was 2016. His next two seasons were so successful that he ended up being both chosen for the Pro Bowl (2018 & 2019) and voted an NFL Top 100 Player (2018 & 2019) twice in a row.

The German/Dutch surname Thielen can be traced back to the early medieval name Thietilo, a pet form of Dietrich, Diederik, or any other compound personal name starting with the Germanic element theud-, meaning “people,” “race.”

What are your thoughts on this name? Would you use it?

Sources:

Where did the baby name Tristana come from?

The character Tristana from the Spanish film "Tristana" (1970).
Tristana from “Tristana

The name Tristana has popped up in the U.S. baby name data a total of four times. The first three appearances were in the early 1970s:

  • 1974: unlisted
  • 1973: 5 baby girls named Tristana
  • 1972: 7 baby girls named Tristana
  • 1971: 8 baby girls named Tristana [debut]
  • 1970: unlisted
  • 1969: unlisted

What put Tristana on the map?

The 1970 Spanish-language film Tristana, directed by Luis Buñuel. It was set in the early 1900s, and the title character — whose name was based on the phrase “triste Ana” (“sad Ana”) — was played by French actress Catherine Deneuve.

Here’s a summary of the film:

After the death of her mother, Tristana goes to live with her guardian Don Lope, who seduces her. She runs away from Lope with a young artist named Horacio. Unable to commit to Horacio and in need of health care due to her growing cancer, Tristana returns to Don Lope.

The film was released in the U.S. in September of 1970. It ended up receiving an Oscar nomination for “Best Foreign Language Film.”

It was based on the 1892 novel Tristana by Spanish novelist Benito Pérez Galdós.

Sources: Tristana (1970) – IMDb, The 43rd Academy Awards, Tristana (1970) – Rotten Tomatoes

P.S. Tristana reminds me of Tristaca, another name that debuted in the ’70s…

How did “I Love Lucy” influence baby names?

Arnaz family on the cover of LIFE magazine (Apr. 6, 1953)
Arnaz family on the cover of LIFE, 1953

The sitcom I Love Lucy (1951-1957) was TV’s first mega-hit. It won five Emmys and was ranked the #1 TV show in America four out of its six seasons.

The central characters were Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, played by real-life couple Lucille Ball (b. 1911 in New York) and Desiderio “Desi” Arnaz (b. 1917 in Cuba).

Ricky worked as a singer and bandleader at the Tropicana nightclub, while Lucy was a housewife on a quest for show business fame who “concocted hilarious (and ultimately doomed) schemes to finagle her way out of the kitchen and into the limelight.”

Though the show ended in 1957, and a modified version called The Ford Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show kept the characters on the air for several more years.

So did I Love Lucy affect U.S. baby names? Yes, though not as much as one might expect, given its popularity.

Lucy & Lucille
Old-fashioned Lucy and Lucille spent most of the 20th century declining in usage. But Lucy saw an increase in 1952, and both names saw increases in 1953. (The most fashionable L-name at that time was #1 Linda.)

Ricky & Ricardo
Ricky and Ricardo had been on the rise since the ’40s, but those rises accelerated during the ’50s. One event that certainly helped Ricky was the birth of Little Ricky on a particularly popular episode that aired in January of 1953.

Little Ricky’s birth coincided with the birth of Lucy and Desi’s second child, Desi Arnaz, Jr. In fact, the cover of the very first issue of TV Guide (April, 1953) featured a photo of baby Desi:

Baby Desi Arnaz, Jr., on the cover of the very first issue of "TV Guide" (April, 1953).
First issue of “TV Guide

(Another Ricky who was on TV in the ’50s was Ricky Nelson, son of Ozzie and Harriet.)

Desi & Arnaz
The ’50s is the first decade we see the regular appearance of Desi (pronounced DEH-zee) in the data. Similarly, we first see the surname Arnaz (pronounced ahr-NEZ) in 1958 specifically. Variant spelling Arnez showed up in 1960.

Now it’s your turn: Do you love the name Lucy? Or do you prefer Lucille?

Do you love Lucy or Lucille?

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Source: I Love Lucy – Britannica.com
Top image: © 1953 LIFE

Where did the baby name Camacho come from?

The baby name Camacho was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 1985:

  • 1987: unlisted
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: 5 baby boys named Camacho [debut]
  • 1984: unlisted
  • 1983: unlisted

Why?

Because of Puerto Rican boxer Héctor “Macho” Camacho. He’d been competing professionally since 1980, and in 1985 he won the WBC lightweight title (defeating José Luis Ramírez of Mexico in August).

The “very common” Portuguese surname Camacho probably originated in the Andalusia region of Spain, but its meaning is unknown.

Sources:

Image: KO Magazine, June 1984