Baby named for Miss Universe, becomes Miss Universe contestant

Chelsi Shikongo at the Miss Universe pageant
Chelsi Shikongo

While doing research for yesterday’s post about Chelsi Smith, I came across another beauty queen with the same first name: Chelsi Shikongo.

Chelsi Tashaleen Shikongo was born in Namibia in 1998, and was indeed named after Chelsi Smith, the American who’d won the Miss Universe pageant in Namibia three years earlier.

Shikongo went on to win the title of Miss Namibia 2021, and to represent Namibia at the Miss Universe pageant (which was ultimately won by Harnaaz Sandhu of India). Though Shikongo wasn’t chosen as a finalist, the red dress she wore during the preliminary evening gown competition was inspired by the one that Smith had been wearing when she’d won the crown decades earlier.


Image: Screenshot of the TV broadcast of the 70th Miss Universe pageant

Baby born to citizen astronaut, named Delta V

Lift-off of the space shuttle Discovery (Feb. 2011)

Florida-based social media influencer Kellie Gerardi isn’t a trained scientist, but she is a science communicator who’s obsessed with outer space.

In 2015, she and her fiancé Steven got married in a space-themed wedding, complete with Star Wars Stormtroopers.

In late 2017, the couple welcomed a baby girl named Delta Victoria, or “Delta V.” Why? Here’s how Kellie explained it:

[W]e named her Delta Victoria for delta-v … aka “change in velocity” as used in spacecraft flight dynamics.


(In mathematics, the uppercase Greek letter delta, which resembles a triangle, denotes a change in quantity.)

In August of 2021, when the Delta variant of COVID-19 was prevalent, Kellie mentioned in a tweet that her 3-year-old daughter “once thought the airline would be the most annoying namesake joke.” In response, Delta Air Lines sent Delta Victoria a care package that included items (like a backpack, and some cookies) featuring their shared name.

P.S. Kellie Gerardi finally took her first trip to space in November of 2023, as part of Virgin Galactic’s “Galactic 05” research mission.


Image: Adapted from STS-133 Discovery Lift Off Launch Pad 39A KSC (NASA)

Where did the baby name Crue come from in 1988?

Motley Crue's album "Girls, Girls, Girls" (1987)
Motley Crue album

In 1988, the names Crue and Tommylee appeared for the very first time in the U.S. baby name data:

Boys named CrueBoys named Tommylee

Both of these debuts can be attributed to the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe.

The band had more than a dozen songs reach Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart from 1984 to 1992. Their two top-ten hits — “Dr. Feelgood” and “Without You” — peaked in 1989 and 1990, respectively. So…what was drawing attention to the names Crue and Tommylee a year earlier, in 1988?

My guess is the song “Girls, Girls, Girls,” which climbed to #12 in the summer of 1987. More importantly, the song’s then-risqué music video — which depicted the Mötley Crüe’s four members (vocalist Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars, bassist Nikki Sixx, and drummer Tommy Lee) carousing at a strip club and riding their motorcycles around Los Angeles — was played frequently on MTV.

How did the band come to be called “Mötley Crüe”? Here’s how Vince Neil told the story:

Mick goes, “How about Motley Crew?” and we go, “That’s cool.” I guess somebody had come into a room that Mick was in and said, “Isn’t this a motley-looking crew?” when he was in another band. And we were drinkin’ Löwenbräu at the time and wanted to feel like we were worldly, so we put the umlauts over the letters and misspelled the name Crüe to make it look more European.

(I don’t know if any of the babies named Crue also got the röck döts.)

The particular focus on the name of the band’s drummer (as opposed to its frontman, à la Axl) is likely attributable to Tommy Lee’s second claim to fame: Husband of Heather Locklear. He’d married the actress, who played Sammy Jo Dean on the ’80s prime time soap opera Dynasty, in May of 1986.

Which name do you like more, Crue or Tommylee?

P.S. Mick Mars’ first child, a son born in 1971, was named Les Paul after pioneering guitarist/luthier Les Paul (born Lester William Polsfuss in Wisconsin in 1915).


How did Uta Hagen get her name?

Actress and acting teacher Uta Hagen (1919-2004)
Uta Hagen

Tony-award winning actress and drama instructor Uta (pronounced OO-ta) Hagen was born to parents Oskar and Thyra Hagen of Göttingen, Germany, in June of 1919.

Uta’s father Oskar, an art historian, named her after the statue of Uta von Ballenstedt at Naumburg Cathedral.

The statue is one of a dozen life-size sculptures that depict individuals who helped establish the church during the 11th century. These “donor figures,” created during the 13th century, have since become well-known examples of early Gothic sculpture in Germany. The statue of Uta von Ballenstedt is thought to have influenced the Walt Disney animators who created the Evil Queen in Snow White, in fact.

Uta von Ballenstedt statue
Uta von Ballenstedt statue

In 1924, Uta Hagen’s family — which included an older brother named Holger — emigrated to the U.S and settled in Madison, Wisconsin. The following year, Oskar Hagen founded the University of Wisconsin’s Art History department.

The feminine name Uta is related to the masculine name Otto, which was originally a short form of Germanic compound names containing the element od/ot, meaning “prosperity, wealth.”


Images: Adapted from Robeson Hagen Othello (public domain); adapted from Naumburger Dom 240 by Thomas Hummel under CC BY-SA 4.0.