The baby names bestowed on little girls and boys in the 1950s were, for the most part, given by parents who had grown up in the 1920s and 1930s. The most frequently bestowed names given to newborns in the 1950s range from the traditional traits of their parents’ formative years to the creative surge that occurred as the decade neared its end.
Top 5 Names
The overall conservatism of the early 1950s shows through in the top 5 names parents picked for their baby boys and girls during that decade. More than 750,000 little boys (out of the approximately 20 million born) were given the common names of James, Michael, Robert, John or David. Of the approximately 20 million little girls born during the same decade, parents named more than 450,000 of them Mary, Linda, Patricia, Susan or Deborah.
Out of the top 20 names for baby boys in the 1950s, more than half were from the Bible, including James, Michael, John, David, Thomas, Mark, Joseph, Paul, Daniel and Stephen. However, of the top 20 girls names from that decade, only the Biblical names of two women — Mary and Deborah, made the list.
Although it isn’t possible to determine exactly why parents choose particular names for their children, it is interesting to speculate that many of the names on the 1950s’ most popular list can be linked to celebrities, particularly movie stars. Thousands of little girls born in the 1950s were named Elizabeth (Taylor), Grace (Kelly), Katherine (Hepburn), Janet (Leigh), Judy (Holliday), (Joan) Crawford, Gloria (Swanson), Jane (Wyman) and, not surprisingly, Marilyn (Monroe). Fewer boys born in the 1950s have movie star names, but included in the list of most popular names are Tony (Curtis), Danny (Kaye) and Gene (Kelley). It would not seem to be a coincidence that the most popular TV “birth” of the 1950s was little Ricky of “I Love Lucy” fame led to 100,000 baby boys being named Ricky or Rick during the 1950s. And in tribute to President Eisenhower, there were more than 20,000 little Dwights born during the decade.
Newly Introduced Names
New names that were not seen in any of the most popular-name lists of previous decades (going back to the 1900s) began showing up, although sparingly, in the 1950s. In addition to names that reflected celebrity influences, these names set kids apart from the overwhelming number of names that had been around for generations. First seen on the 1950s list for girls were Carmen, Vanessa, Holly Veronica, Dana, Toni and Yolanda — each bestowed on more than 18,000 little girls. For more than 15,000 baby boys, those new to the most-popular list included Dana (also on the girls’ list), Leo, Manuel, Wesley, Kurt, Jackie and Todd.