Special Report

These Baby Names Totally Rocked the 1950s and '60s

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Many parents take the task of naming their children very seriously. The fact that the boy or girl will live with that name for at least 18 years can be overwhelming. What if they don’t like it? So some expecting parents get creative and try to come up with unique and peculiar names, while others play it safe and go for more classic names. 

24/7 Tempo identified the top 3 boys and girls names rocking the 1950s and 1960s using data from the Social Security Administration

Michael, a Biblical name favored throughout modern history, was common in 19th century America, but soared in popularity in the next century. It came on big in the 1950s, moving from the ninth most popular boy’s name in the 1940s to first place in 1954, where it stayed (except for 1960) for more than four decades until 1998. Michael remained among the top four names for another decade, with Noah, Liam, Mason, Jacob, William, and Ethan overtaking it in the 2010s.

The pop phenom Michael Jackson and the basketball superstar Michael Jordan, whose fabled careers caught fire during the reign of “Michael,” could be partly responsible for the name’s long-lasting popularity. The men’s disappearance from the scene in the first decade of this century — Jordan to retirement and Jackson to an untimely death — may explain the name’s relative decline.

Mary and Linda topped the list of girls names in the 1950s, as they had in the 1940s. Deborah, Patricia, and Barbara were making their way to the top in the period as well until the 1970s when Jennifer, Kimberly, and Melissa were gaining popularity fast rising to the top. They were among the fastest growing names in the country — and these are the fastest growing first names in America now

Click here to read about the baby names that totally rocked the 1950s and 60’s.

The Social Security Administration has compiled statistical lists, by year and decade, of names given to babies, but not nicknames. The SSA has no way of knowing what a child is actually called by his or her family and friends. 

America in the 1950s liked the name Debbie, and a huge number of parents named their little girls Debra or Deborah, intending to use the diminutive. The fad came on quickly. Deborah was only the 67th most common name given to little girls in the 1940s, and Debra was not among the top 200. In the 1950s Deborah zoomed to number 5 and Debra to 7. 

Unlike Michael, which remains a popular name ranking as the 4th most common boy’s name in the past hundred years, Debbie did not have staying power. The name quickly fell out of fashion, and, by the 1980s, Deborah had plummeted to number 189, and Debra was no longer listed among the top 200. Still, Deborah stands at a respectable 25th place among the top girls names of the last century.

Looking into the future, the most popular names are on track to change. The girls’ names projected to be most popular in 10 years are similar to the most popular names nowadays. This is not the case with boys’ names, however — these will be the most popular names in a decade

Source: Photo by Joyce Rudolph / MPTV Images - Image courtesy of IMDB

1950
> All male births: 1,790,549
> Most popular boy names: James (4.8%), Robert (4.7%), John (4.4%)
> All female births: 1,713,151
> Most popular girl names: Linda (4.7%), Mary (3.8%), Patricia (2.8%)

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Source: Brett Carlsen / Getty Images

1951
> All male births: 1,882,982
> Most popular boy names: James (4.6%), Robert (4.6%), John (4.3%)
> All female births: 1,800,880
> Most popular girl names: Linda (4.1%), Mary (3.6%), Patricia (3.1%)

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

1952
> All male births: 1,944,564
> Most popular boy names: James (4.5%), Robert (4.5%), John (4.3%)
> All female births: 1,854,608
> Most popular girl names: Linda (3.6%), Mary (3.5%), Patricia (3.1%)

Source: Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

1953
> All male births: 1,971,304
> Most popular boy names: James (4.4%), Robert (4.4%), Michael (4.3%)
> All female births: 1,880,304
> Most popular girl names: Mary (3.4%), Linda (3.3%), Deborah (2.8%)

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Source: Evening Standard / Getty Images

1954
> All male births: 2,038,027
> Most popular boy names: James (4.2%), Robert (4.2%), John (4.0%)
> All female births: 1,941,857
> Most popular girl names: Mary (3.5), Linda (2.9%), Deborah (2.8%)

Source: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

1955
> All male births: 2,059,007
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.3%), David (4.2%), James (4.1%)
> All female births: 1,955,034
> Most popular girl names: Mary (3.2%), Deborah (2.7%), Linda (2.6%)

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Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

1956
> All male births: 2,113,638
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.3%), James (4.0%), Robert (4.0%)
> All female births: 2,007,432
> Most popular girl names: Mary (3.1%), Debra (2.4%), Linda (2.4%)

Source: Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images

1957
> All male births: 2,155,758
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.3%), James (3.9%), David (3.8%)
> All female births: 2,044,249
> Most popular girl names: Mary (3.0%), Susan (2.2%), Linda (2.2%)

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

1958
> All male births: 2,120,705
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.3%), David (3.9%), James (3.7%)
> All female births: 2,010,952
> Most popular girl names: Mary (2.8%), Susan (2.2%), Linda (2.1%)

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Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

1959
> All male births: 2,133,342
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.0%), David (3.9%), James (3.7%)
> All female births: 2,023,092
> Most popular girl names: Mary (2.7%), Susan (2.1%), Linda (2.0%)

Source: Scott Gries / Getty Images

1960
> All male births: 2,132,359
> Most popular boy names: David (4.0%), Michael (3.9%), James (3.6%)
> All female births: 2,022,018
> Most popular girl names: Mary (2.5%), Susan (1.9%), Linda (1.8%)

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Source: Bethany Clarke / Getty Images

1961
> All male births: 2,122,653
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.1%), David (4.0%), John (3.8%)
> All female births: 2,017,591
> Most popular girl names: Mary (2.4%), Lisa (2.1%), Susan (1.9%)

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

1962
> All male births: 2,068,669
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.1%), David (3.9%), John (3.8%)
> All female births: 1,966,565
> Most popular girl names: Lisa (2.3%), Mary (2.2%), Susan (1.8%)

Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

1963
> All male births: 2,031,505
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.1%), John (3.9%), David (3.9%)
> All female births: 1,927,286
> Most popular girl names: Lisa (2.9%), Mary (2.2%), Susan (1.8%)

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Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

1964
> All male births: 1,993,060
> Most popular boy names: Micheal (4.1%), John (4.1%), David (3.8%)
> All female births: 1,894,740
> Most popular girl names: Lisa (2.9%), Mary (2.2%), Susan (1.7%)

Source: Francois Durand / Getty Images

1965
> All male births: 1,860,956
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.4%), John (3.8%), David (3.6%)
> All female births: 1,765,073
> Most popular girl names: Lisa (3.4%), Mary (1.9%), Karen (1.9%)

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Source: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

1966
> All male births: 1,783,729
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.5%), David (3.7%), James (3.7%)
> All female births: 1,691,945
> Most popular girl names: Lisa (3.4%), Kimberly (1.9%), Mary (1.7%)

Source: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

1967
> All male births: 1,744,265
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.7%), david (3.8%), James (3.5%)
> All female births: 1,650,865
> Most popular girl names: Lisa (3.2%), Kimberly (2.0%), Michelle (1.9%)

Source: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

1968
> All male births: 1,738,661
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.7%), David (3.7%), John (3.5%)
> All female births: 1,640,215
> Most popular girl names: Lisa (3.0%), Michelle (2.0%), Kimberly (1.9%)

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Source: Jason Merritt / Getty Images

1969
> All male births: 1,789,216
> Most popular boy names: Michael (4.8%), David (3.6%), James (3.3%)
> All female births: 1,689,999
> Most popular girl names: Lisa (2.7%), Michelle (2.0%), Jennifer (2.0%)

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