A decade often remembered for its sock hops, milkshakes, backseat bingo, poodle skirts, records, juke boxes and rock and roll, a few years into the 50s, people were full of hope again. On the heels of the post war era, the cold war was ending and the baby boom epoch kicked-off.
According to United States History “the term "Baby Boom" is used to identify a massive increase in births following World War II. Baby boomers are those people born worldwide between 1946 and 1964, the time frame most commonly used to define them. The first baby boomers reached the standard retirement age of 65 in 2011.
There are about 76 million boomers in the U.S., representing about 29 percent of the population. In Canada, they are known as "Boomies;" six million reside there. In Britain, the boomer generation is known as "the bulge."
“The 1950s were, in some ways, years of innocence. The Saturday movie matinee was only 35 cents on the West Coast. The drive-in theater became part of the young-family social scene, primarily owing to cheap tickets. The main movie genres were established: melodramas, westerns, horror films, comedies, and action-adventure films. Musicals and science fiction movies were popular by the 1950s.”
We think these nostalgic baby names can make any baby naming journey a breeze! Though musical inspirations like Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day and Tony Bennett topped the charts with hits that are still nostalgic today, the most popular names from the 1950s just might surprise you. Check out the top 25 baby boy names from the 1950s that are making a comeback.
From Joseph, Robert and James to Charles, Edward and Robert, little ankle-biters with these names, were popular then and — they’re still as classic as classic cars are, today!
The 25th most popular name for baby boys in the 1950s with 180,956 male birth certificates registered according to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the United States, George still reigns supreme today.
Rising to the top again over the last few years, we’re certain the Duke of Cambridge (Prince William) and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) naming their first born George had something to do with the spike. Other famous George’s include George Washington and Curious George, the precocious monkey beloved to children around the world.
Of Greek descent, George means farmer or earth worker. George was the 7th most popular baby boy name in England in 2014 and 17th in New Zealand in 2015. In the United states, George was the 136th most popular name in 2015 and between 1916 and 2015, there were more than 1.2 million boys born of the name George.
For a decade, the name Jeffrey made up 184,544 baby boys of the same name in the United States. In 2015, it was the 290th most popular boys name. Jeffrey was most popular in 1966, ranking as the 9th most popular boys name.
Interestingly, between 1967 and 1970 it ranked as a top 1000 name for girls! It became increasingly popular for boys again in the 1970s.
The name Jeffrey means peaceful pledge or traveler and is of German descent. According to Nameberry, “There are lots of Jeffrey/Jeff namesakes to reference--Actors Jeff Bridges and Jeff Daniels writers Jeffrey Archer and Jeffrey Eugenides and race car driver Jeff Gordon.” Spelled with J’s and G’s, Jeffrey can also be written as Geoffrey, Geffrey, Jeffery and Jeffry.
According to the SSA, Edward was name to 188,279 baby boys in the 1950s, that was about 1% of boys born in that decade. In 2015, Edward was the 136th most popular name in the United States. We love Edward for a baby boy and think it could be darling for a little girls name, even a middle name too!
Edward is traced back to English and Polish ancestry and means guard, wealth, wealthy guardian and fortune. According to Nameberry “youngish actors Edward Norton, Edward Burns and Edward Furlong help keep the name's image fresh. Parents today are more likely to prefer nicknames Ted or Ned to the traditional Ed or Eddie -- or, just as likely, to use the name in full.”
An extremely popular name around the world from 2009 onward, can be credited to the box office smash hit, Twilight.
A classic name in the 1950s, the name Timothy was given to 198,230 baby boys in the United States, making it the 22nd most popular boys name of the decade. In 2015, Timothy was the 147th most popular name for boys. Interestingly, Timothy was a top 100 name until 2008 and we think it’s back on the rise!
A Greek derived name, Timothy means honouring God and fearing God. Common nicknames include Tim, Timmy, Tom and Jimmy.
In the 1950s, famous Timothy’s included singer Tiny Tim. Today film icon Tim Burton and a slew of other actors sport the namesake as well as country crooner Tim McGraw and footballer Time Tebow.
Dennis was the 21st most popular name in the 1950s and according to the SSA, there were 204,131 baby boys born of that name. In 2015, Dennis was in the top 500 names for baby boys, ranking as the 496th.
Greek and English meanings of Dennis relate to the God of Wine. According to Nameberry “Dennis was considered cool when it was near the top of the charts in the 1940s and 1950s… Dennis Barlow is the main character in Evelyn Waugh's satirical 1948 novel The Loved One.
Some prominent namesakes also include Dennis Hopper, Dennis Rodman, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Leary and Dennis Wilson.”
Dennis the Menace also made its television series debut in 1959 and just might be credit to the popularity of the name.
The 20th most popular name for baby boys in the 1950s was Stephen, with the SSA reporting 207,171 registered names in the United States. Stephen was in the top 25 baby names from 1946 to 1957. Stephen was the 246th most popular boys name in 2015.
Of English descent, Stephen means crown or garland. No stranger to the spotlight, according to Nameberry “there have been innumerable pop-culture role models among its bearers, including Foster, Hawking, Sondheim, Colbert and King. Steves and Stevens, meanwhile, count Spielberg, Martin and the late Jobs among them.
In literature, the name has been used by Dickens (in Hard Times), George Eliot (in The Mill on the Floss) and James Joyce (in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man).
With 243,591 baby boys named Daniel in the 1950s, the name has maintained popularity throughout subsequent decades. Ranking as the top 12th name for boys in 2015, Daniel has been a top 25 boys name in the United States since 1972. In 2015, Daniel was the 12th most popular name for boys.
The name Daniel means attractive and judge of God, is derived from Hebrew ancestry and is commonly used in English and Irish families.
Nameberry divulges “Daniel was popular in the days of Daniel Webster and Daniel Boone, and its appeal is international, from Ireland to Israel. It was the name of one of the greatest biblical heroes, with the inspiring story of the prophet whose faith protected him when he was thrown into a den of lions… And its nicknames – Danny and Dan -- make it sound even friendlier, though, as with other classics, many modern parents are opting to use the name in full.”
The 18th most popular baby boys name in the 1950s, Larry was name to 245,535 newborn males in the United States during the retro decade. The name Larry peaked in the 1950s and according to the SSA was the 556th most popular boys name in 2015.
This boy’s name means Laurel in English, Dutch and Swedish languages. In Italian, Larry means “From Laurentum, Italy” and is derived from Lawrence, also spelled Laurence.
One of the most famous Larry’s is basketball superstar Larry Bird, born in 1956 and now the president of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers. And let’s not forget Larry Fine (Louis Feinberg) from The Three Stooges, a jokester for sure — Larry is the perfect choice for those looking for a name with an ode to comedy.
With 253,081 baby boys named Paul in the United States in the 1950s, this classic name is timeless. The name Paul was ranked the 200th most popular in 2015.
Paul means small or little and is a name commonly used across multiple countries and is derived from Roman ancestry.
Nameberry reminds us that “to the thousands of girls who screamed the name of their favourite Beatle in the 1960s, Paul had a thrillingly unique image, but to the rest of the world, then and now, it's a name that's so simple and yet so widely diffuse that it could belong to almost anyone. Paul is an ancient name -- popular in Roman and medieval times -- that's not very fashionable now, which can work in its favor, scarcity balancing simplicity.”
Kenneth was a very popular name in the 1950s with 262,683 boys of the same name in that decade. Between the 1920s and 1950s, Kenneth was a staple on the top 20 names list year after year. In 2015 Kenneth just made the cut of the top 200 names, ranking 199th. Kenneth was actually a top 20 name from the 1920s through the 1950s.
The name Kenneth means handsome, fair and obligated to the royals. We think the name Kenneth is adorable for a country baby, with may famous Kenneth’s in the country music industry — icons include Kenney Chesney AND Rogers. Or for an R&B superstar like Kenneth “Babyface” Edmunds.
Let’s not forget Barbie’s go to guy! Nameberry reminds us that “for many girls growing up, Ken was the name of Barbie’s eternal boyfriend and ultimate dream date. Most recently, Kenneth Ellen (!) Parcell was the naive, perpetually smiling character on 30 Rock.”
Ranking number 15 on the top 25 baby boys names in the 1950s, Ronald was name to 271,011 baby boys born during the do whop decade. Strongly associated with President Ronald Reagan, Ronald has been popular on and off for years and was the 433rd most popular boys name in 2015.
Ronald first appeared on the United States popular name list in 1883 and was in the top 20 names from the 1930s to the 1950s.
Ronald is of Viking descent and means mighty and powerful. The Vikings are credited to bringing the name to England and Scotland.
We love Nameberry’s take on the name “In the Top 10 in the late 1930s through the mid-1940s, the name came to be strongly associated with President Reagan, along with his nicknames, Ron and Ronnie—as well as with the McDonald franchise mascot. A more youthful bearer is the likable character Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter series.
In the early days of Hollywood, Ronald Colman was a dashing matinee idol.”
What rhymes with Ronald? Well Donald of course! Leading the way by only a few thousand, Donald was the 14th most popular name for baby boys in the 1050s with 273,413 birth certificates registered in the United States according to the SSA. Donald was the 441st most popular boys name in 2015.
A Gaelic baby name, Donald means world mighty, dark stranger and great chief. Of Scottish descent it also means proud chief.
Nameberry states “Donald has been used for centuries in Scotland, where the Macdonald clan is one of the most ancient and where there have been six early Scottish kings by that name. Donald was a Top 20 name throughout most of the early twentieth century. But first there was the quacking Donald Duck, introduced in 1934, to affect its image, and then there was The Donald Trump, leaving it drained of much baby appeal.
Many famous Donald’s opt to go by a nickname, think Donnie Wahlberg, Donny Osmond, Don Rickles and Don Draper.
With almost 300,000 boys named Joseph born in the United States in the 1950s, Joseph boasts 299,854 baby boys of the same name. In 2015, Joseph was the 21st most popular boys name. Of Hebrew descent, the Biblical derived name means to add or increase.
Nameberry expands on this as last year was the second year in decades that the name fell out of the top 20 and even though “Joseph may be dipping ever so slightly in the popularity charts…it will always be a strong and solid choice. Variations of Joseph are popular worldwide, including Jose, Giuseppe and Josef, while the female Josephine is a currently enjoying a style revival.”
Hello! We love Josephine for a little lady!
The 12th most popular baby boy name in the 1950s with 329,751 recorded birth certificates, Gary was the 582nd most popular boys name last year. Nameberry reveals “When Gary cracked the Top 10 in 1950, it was one of the first nonclassic boys' names to do so, largely due to Gary (born Frank) Cooper, who was renamed after Gary, Indiana, his agent's hometown. Now, a 65 years later, Gary is down at Number 582, and has lost any glitter it had.” Maybe it’s time for a comeback?
Today, there are a multitude of celebs named Gary. From Gary Sinise to Gary Busey, we think a few more Gary’s in the world would be fab.
With English, Irish, American, Welsh and American popularity, Gary means spear, gentle and hard. We are digging this name for a little girl too!
We saw Steven spelled Stephen ranking 20th on the top 25 baby boy names from the 1950s and with the Steven spelling ranks the 11th most popular in the United States. According to the SSA there were 333,513 Stevens born in that decade. In 2015, Steven was the 154th most popular name for baby boys.
Of Greek, Dutch and English descent, Steven means honor, reward, crown and wreath.
Like Stephen above, Nameberry reminds us that Steven has a predominant spelling these days, of Stephen. “Steven, the phonetic and now predominant spelling of the classier Stephen, has finally dropped out of the Top 100 after seventy years. Steve has become one of the ultimate regular-guy names, right up there with Dave and Joe.
There have been innumerable pop-culture role models among its bearers--from Steven Spielberg to Steven Soderbergh to Steve Jobs.”
The 10th most popular name in the 1950s was Charles with 360,979 names registered to boy birth certificates. An absolute classic, Charles was the 50th most popular baby name in 2015 according to the SSA.
Of French and German descent, Charles means free man, manly, strong and man. Made popular by the birth of British Charles, Prince of Wales who was born just ahead of the 50s, in 1948.
Nameberry "Charles has been so well used for so long that it is virtually faceless—it can conjure up anyone from Dickens to Chaplin to Bronson. It has been an elegant royal name— designating both Bonnie Prince Charlie, leader of a 1745 rebellion... as well as kings of France, Spain, England, Portugal, and Hungary.
The nickname Charlie (and Charley) has taken on a life of its own and is now a popular choice for both sexes. And though Chuck is now virtually gone, Chas/Chaz is becoming a nickname of choice.
The countdown continues! The 9th most popular name for boys in the 1950s was Mark with 382,419 newborn males registered of the same name in the United States. Throughout the decade it ranged from the 23rd most popular name to the 6th. In 2015, Mark was the 196th most popular name
The name Mark means warlike, warring and hammer. Marcus is the Latin derivative and the name has numerous spellings including Marc.
Nameberry reminds us of some very famous Mark’s! “Mark Twain was, of course, the pen name taken by Samuel Clemens. Prominent current bearers include actor Mark Ruffalo, Mark Wahlberg (the onetime Marky Mark) and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.”
Choo Choo! Not just a name for tank engines, Thomas was the 8th most popular name in the 1950s with a recorded 454,169 birth certificates over the course of a decade. Thomas was the 15th most popular name in 2015. In Australia, it was the t6th most popular name in 2015. Thomas is timeless!
Thomas means twin and is derived from multiple countries and is most popular in the United States and England.
Nameberry reminds us that the name “Thomas has some noteworthy foreign versions: the multicultural Tomas, the Italian Tomasso, the Portuguese Tomaz and the Scottish nickname Tam. In Paris these days, Tom is a popular name used on its own. Jack Black and Dennis Quaid both have sons named Thomas.”
With a whopping half million baby boys named Richard in the 1950s, the 7th most popular name comprises 535,149 birth certificates on record. In 2015, it was the 255th most popular boys name in the United States.
Of German origin, Richard means brave, strong ruler and powerful.
We agree with Nameberry prediction! “If parents do readopt the name Richard, it will be in its full and formal version. All the possible nicknames -- Richie (too Happy Days), Ricky, (too I Love Lucy) and especially Dick (too tricky and teasable) -- sound so dated that it's hard to imagine Richard ever coming back into style. But not that long ago, people said that about now-hot baby names Jake and Max.”
We’re not surprised William is high on the list! Made wildly popular in decades after the 50s, specifically with the Duke of Cambridge (Prince William)’s birth in the 80s. The 6th most popular baby boy name in the 1950s, there were 590,973 Willam’s on record in the United States.
In 2015, William was the 5th most popular name for boys. William is a German and English name meaning determined or resolute protector.
The name has become a bit more relaxed over the years and Nameberry says "in terms of short forms, yesterday's Bills and Billys have given way to today's Wills -- or Williams, with no diminutive -- though a few hip Billys, including Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton's, have surfaced recently.
But Will, sometimes used on its own, is still the most stylish William nickname. Riding the William bandwagon are the Irish spinoff Liam (now in second place) and, to a lesser extent, the Dutch Willem."
David was the 5th most popular name for baby boys in the 1950s with 769,555 recorded births throughout the decade. David is traditional and popular, in 2015 it was the 18th most popular name in the United States.
David is of Hebrew origin and means beloved or friend in Swedish, English, Scottish and Welsh languages.
Nameberry reminds us "there have been countless Davids of note in history, entertainment, sport and fiction, including Copperfield, Crockett, Letterman and Beckham. Celebrities who have chosen it for their baby boys include Jennifer Hudson, Mo'Nique, and that incomparable name creator, J. K. Rowling. Dawson means "son of David."
Nearly 800,000 baby boys were named John in the 1950s, according to the SSA 797,528 to be exact! In 2015, it was the 26th most popular name in the United States.
Meaning God is gracious, the Hebrew derived name also means mercy of the lord.
“Celebrities who have gone with the timeless John include Michelle Pfeiffer, Bono, Johnny Depp, Lauryn Hill, Bridget Moynahan and Rob Lowe,” according to Nameberry. “John reigned as the most popular of all boys' Christian names for 400 years, from the time the first Crusaders carried it back to Britain until the 1950s."
"At which point American baby namers finally seemed to be tiring of this most straight-arrow, almost anonymous John Doe of names and started to replace it with fancier forms like Jonathan and the imported Sean and Ian. John was a key name in early Christianity, borne by John the Baptist, John the Apostle and John the Evangelist, plus 84 saints and 23 popes, as well as kings and countless other illustrious notables.”
830,032 American-born boys were named Robert in the 1950s and means bright, shining and famed. Nameberry reports "Robert was Number 1 in both 1925 and 1950, and in fact was in the Top 25 for an entire century, giving it true classic status. Though no longer stylish, Robert is still widely used as a family name, given to over 6,000 boys last year."
Today there are many Hollywood superstars named Robert, perhaps the result of the meaning of their name? From Robert Pattison to Robert Downey Jr, Robert Redford and Robert DeNiro, this strong name has Hollywood written all over it!
The name Robert is adopted from the Norse words 'hroud' and 'perht,' which means bright fame. This name originated in 1035, now that's an old name! But it's still a great name for any little boy who has a lot of spirit and is pretty popular amongst his peers.
The second most popular names for boys in the 1950s was Michael. The SSA indicates there 837,084 boys named James, throughout the decade. In 2015 Michael was the 9th most popular name for boys.
We agree with Nameberry, "Michael was the Number 1 American boys' name for almost half a century. Now, though, Michael has moved down to ninth place, still translating to about an annual 15,000+ babies. How has Michael racked up this phenomenal record? Credit its use by parents of diverse ethnic and religious groups, and Michael's all-around likability, strength, and sincerity."
The name Michael means humble. While multiple spellings continue to emerge, Michael is the most traditional spelling and can also be written Michel, Michaele and Mikelle.
James was the leading name for boys, with the Social Security Administration (SSA) reporting 843,377 American boys born with this namesake during that decade. And in 2015, James was the 7th most popular name for boys. James is an English name meaning supplant.
Nameberry reports "there are fewer Jimmys, Jimbos or even Jamies these days; the most fashionable form of the name is James itself. Several stylish celebrities have chosen it in recent years for their sons, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Liz Phair, Colin Farrell and Isaac Hanson. Brendan Fehr thought out of the box and named his daughter James."
An American icon, James Dean was an actor and American heartthrob for many teenagers around the world in the 1950s. We think James, spelled Jaymes — is also adorable for a baby girl.