Names that became popular or unpopular due to pop culture.

There is a set of lists on Wikipedia of the most popular given names in the United States for each year. One thing that caught my attention was how the name Michelle, which doesn’t appear in any previous years’ top ten, becomes very popular from 1966 onward - the year that “Michelle” was ‘Song of the Year’ or something The most popular names of the 1960s

I know there were Michelles born before 1966 (Michelle Phillips and Michelle Pfeiffer), but it does seem very much like the Beatles’ song inspired a sudden spike in the name’s popularity, as the name was nowhere in the top ten before, but became among the top five names in the latter 1960s.

Are there any instances where a song, movie, or show makes a name popular - or perhaps unpopular?

I know Trinity became much more popular after The Matrix. It goes for 555th most common female name [assigned to newborns] in 1998 to 216th in 1999 to 74th in 2000 to 67th in 2001. In 2002 it was 70th and in 2003 it was 57th.
Link: Social Security most common names

I’d wager that there were a lot more “Lukes” after Star Wars came out.

And I’d definitely bet that Dustin Hoffman’s popularity caused the boom of boys being named Dustin. Throughout high school I knew many Dustins, and I understand that this was a fairly uncommon name before Dustin Hoffman became a star.

I bet Damien took a nose dive after The Omen.

Oh and I went through my entire schooling (b 1966) never meeting another Kelly. Seemed to be a ton of them about after Berverly Hills 91210.

The number of Kylies and Charlenes leapt after Miss Minogue’s Neighbours adventures.And I’m sure in a few more years,there’ll be a spurt of little Britneys racing about.Although this only really works with unusual names.How can you tell if little Jennifer was named after Miss Aniston,Miss Love Hewitt,Miss Lopez or just cos it was a nice name…

How about one better – where the movie apparently created the name from scratch?

It seems quite likely that the name Madison for a girl was started as a joke in the Tom Hanks / Darryl Hannah movie Splash (1984).

Previous SDMB threads are here and here.

I have a friend whose father’s name is Adolph. He is in his 70s and has stories about how Hitler made his name very unpopular overnight.

The name Wendy was popularized by Peter Pan.

The trend in names today seems to be anything slightly unusual; “Cadence”, “Gavin”, “Xavier”, “Larissa”. Seriously, it’s been 5 or 6 years at least since I’ve seen a preschool-aged kid with a “common” name.

The funny thing is, these kids will grow up in classrooms full of Cadences, Gavins, Xaviers, and Larissas; just like I grew up in classrooms full of Michaels, Justins, Melissas, and Jennifers.

Trying to be different by following a trend is self-defeating. They might as well all be naming their kids Bob.

Shortly after the 1992 elections, I read an article by a man who bore the name Hillary. He bemoaned the fact that people would now think he had a woman’s name.

Alot of people I know take a name out of the Bible for their children, but no one ever picks Onan, go figure.

I believe the TV show “Dynasty” inspired a bunch of Krystles and Alexises.

Wasn’t it olestra that became extremely unpopular after it was <ahem> scientifically proven</ahem> to cause that frightful ailment, “anal leakage”?

D’OH!! You said names, NAMES - for some reason I read it as “Things that became popular or unpopular due to pop culture.”

My bad, nothing to see here, move along.


Well, so much for my plans to name my first child Olestra.

You could always name her Chlamydia. Chlamydia Boink. Has a nice ring to it.

With a new Willy Wonka film coming out, I wonder if anyone will name a daughter Verruca. :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, notwithstanding the whole “made up names” trend, I remember reading about an upswing in parents naming their boys “Gage.” It was apparently the generation that watched “Emergency!,” which featured a technician by that name.

I knew a Jeremy who was named after a tv character in the late 70’s. Seemed to be quite a few Jeremys in that age group.

I recall reading that Jennifer became popular after the name of a character in a 1960s movie - but damned if I haven’t forgotten which one. As Antonius Black notes, the story behind Madison is well known - and so collossally stupid that it’s a very good argument for forced sterilization.

On the flip side, Richard is alleged to have plummeted at around Watergate, and the popularization of “dick” as an anatomical reference didn’t help matters. I don’t think Richard will ever be quite as popular again (although variations might take up some slack - Rick, Ricky, Enrique, etc.).

Actually, the name Wendy was invented by J. M. Barrie when he wrote Peter Pan.