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The 1950s was a decade of economic growth. World War II had ended in 1945, and for many, there was new hope for peace.
Television joined movies and radio as a major source of entertainment and information. This visual medium brought cultural icons into homes in a brand new way.
The popular names from the 1950s reflected both respect for tradition and fascination with popular culture.
The top ten baby names from the 50s for both boys and girls were largely unchanged from the previous decade, with James and Mary remaining the most popular baby names.
1950s Girl Names
Down at number 98 sits the quiet beginning of a new era. Jennifer made its appearance on the list of most common 1950s girl names.
The popularity of Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Jones is usually considered to be the reason so many girls received this name at the time. Jennifer continued to grow in usage and became the most popular name of the 1970s.
Deborah, a name with biblical roots, gained tremendous popularity in this decade.
The traditional spelling rose from number 68 to number five. An alternate spelling, Debra, made an astonishing entrance to the list at number seven.
Interestingly, Debra Kerr became a popular actress during this era. Among her many films were the 1950s hits “From Here to Eternity” and “The King and I”.
Leslie, which had traditionally been a common name for boys, was now becoming a popular name for girls and entered the list at 99.
Some names went out of fashion in this decade.
Phyllis fell from 38 to 75 and Doris fell from 44 to 100, while Judith fell from number nine to number 34.
Evelyn was at 64 in the 1940s but fell completely off the list in the 1950s.
1950s Boy Names
For the most part, the top 1950s names for boys made less dramatic movements on the list.
One exception is George, which had sat at number 15 during the 1940s, fell to number 25 in the 1950s.
Randall made an entrance to the list at number 58. This name was even more popular than such traditional favorites as Jack, Henry and Andrew.
Kevin, a name with Irish origins, entered the list at number 27. Actor Kevin McCarthy was in the film adaption of “Death of a Salesman” and the science-fiction movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.
Actor Tony Randall rose to popularity and appeared in the popular TV show “Mr. Peepers”. His Emmy-winning performance may have been part of the reason parents favored this name.
Vincent entered the list at number 100. Vincent Price was a popular and well-respected movie and radio actor of this era.