The 20 Most Popular Girls’ Names From The 1950s

Much like music and fashion trends, names are a sign of the times. And during the 1950s — a period known for the births of post-war Baby Boomers — Americans had a short list of names that grew really popular.

While these days many people push the envelope with creative and often nonsensical names, in the ’50s, parents were all about keeping it classic and returning to “normalcy.” These are the top twenty most popular names for girls born in the decade of daddy-os and wig chops.

1. Mary: This name is timeless, considering the fact that it was the most popular girl name in the United States from 1880 to 1961. It fell out of the top 100 for the first time in 2009.

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2. Linda: This name is another one that has stood the test of time, with some of the most famous Lindas being born during the 1950s. The list includes actress Linda Blair, model Linda Evangelista, and Terminator star Linda Hamilton.

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3. Patricia: This nam may have been very popular during the 1950s, but Patricia has certainly fallen out of popularity. In 2018, it was the 918th most popular girls name in the United States. So, if you know someone named Patricia today, she is pretty special.

4. Susan: This name hit peak popularity during the 1940s and ’50s. Of course, this name is one of the most nicknamable, leading to Sue, Susie, and Suz. And how can we forget the convenient kitchen tool, the Lazy Susan?

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5. Deborah: In 1955, the name Deborah reached peak popularity when it became the second most popular name in the United States! The alternate spelling “Debra” was also in the top ten names during the ’50s.

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6. Barbara: Glamorous actresses like Barbara Stanwyck and Barbara La Marr cemented the popularity of the name during the ’20s and ’30s, keeping it popular through the ’50s. However, the name went out of style in the ’60s.

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7. Karen: Today, this name is often jokingly associated with a middle-aged woman seeking help from a manager, but during the 1950s, it was all the rage. In 1956 alone the name when up 117% in usage!

8. Nancy: Although the Nancy Drew mystery series gained popularity well before the ’50s, the name stuck around. Plus, Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, was born in 1957 during the Nancy boom!

9. Donna: The origin of the name Donna is pretty simple: it means “woman” in Italian. Ritchie Valens released a song “Oh Donna” in 1958, which lead to an all-time peak of babies named Donna in 1959.

10. Cynthia: Although this name might make you think of the adorable Cindy Brady, the fairly common title surprisingly has its roots in Greek mythology. The Greek goddess Artemis was born on Mount Cynthus, earning her the sometimes-nickname Cynthia.

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11. Sandra: Anyone named Sandra has a lot to live up to, even from birth. The name means “protector of man” and rose to popularity during the 1920s. It peaked during the 1960s because of popular figure Sandra Dee.

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12. Pamela: The year 1954 saw over 27,000 girls named Pamela born. It was popular during the ’40s and ’50s, but fell out of popularity in the 1960s, when it wasn’t even in the top 1,000 most popular girl names.

13. Kathleen: This Irish name was in the top 100 most popular named from 1948 to 1953. It is the subject of old songs such asI’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen,” sung by Bing Crosby. It was also popular in the 1980s.

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14. Carol: The popular comedian Carol Burnett helped create a wave of Carols during the 1950s. Sadly, today it is on the verge of extinction in the United States, as it has basically disappeared from the popular name charts.

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15. Diane: Diane reached peak use in 1955 and is one of the rare names that managed to remain popular throughout the 1990s. However, by 2015, it fell out of the top 100 most popular names.

16. Janet: If you know someone named Janet, hopefully they have managed to be humble even though the name means “God’s gracious gift.” The name is certified vintage, as hardly any new baby girls are graced with the name.

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17. Elizabeth: As a name literally fit for a queen, Elizabeth has been consistently popular for a long time. It has remained on the top 25 list of girls names for the past 100 years.

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18. Margaret: A popular choice among saints and royals, this name has been popular in the United States since the 1800s. Plus, it comes with cute nicknames like Peggy and Maggie!

19. Janice: Long before Chandler from Friends dated his Long Islander girlfriend with this name, the Baby Boomers were all named Janice. The name dropped off in popularity by the 1970s.

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20. Carolyn: This cheery title means “song of happiness,” so anyone named Carolyn will probably brighten your day. The 1950s had some interesting names, but there is something that decade is even more famous for: slang terms that need to make a comeback.

“Wig chop” – Every pompadour needs a touch-up now and then. Elvis and other greasers went to their local barbers for a regular wig chop, or haircut. Obviously, the “wig” part is just a joke, though Elvis (a natural blond) did dye his hair!

“Come on snake, let’s rattle” – Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega would’ve approved of this slang. The reptilian idiom is an invitation to dance, perhaps to Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell.”

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“Backseat bingo” – A favorite activity of sweethearts at the drive-in theater, this is slang for making out. Unlike actual bingo, your chances of winning this game are decently high — plus it’s actually fun most of the time.

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“Give me a bell” – Decades ago, phones couldn’t take photos or play Candy Crush. All you could do was call friends and hope they’d pick up. This request meant that you wanted someone to call you, as folks used to actually look forward to a ringing phone.

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“Bird dog” – Luckily, this term doesn’t refer to some mad science experiment gone awry. A bird dog, like a bloodhound following a trail, is a shifty guy who tries to steal someone else’s date.

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“Radioactive” – Contrary to the Cold War tensions of the era, 1950s folk described incredibly popular things as “radioactive.” This probably made sense because nuclear technology was relatively new at the time, although now nobody would want to get close to radioactive food or clothes.

“Later, gator” – Often followed by, “After a while, crocodile,” it’s just a cool way to say goodbye. Bill Haley and His Comets even managed to score a hit song in 1955 called “See You Later, Alligator.”

“Ankle biter” – It’s not just Charlie from the famous YouTube video that has a biting problem. Apparently ’50s tots were constantly sinking their teeth into their parents’ legs, because adults coined “ankle biter” to refer to any young child.

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“Made in the shade” – A nice shadow is more than just a way to avoid sunburn at the beach. This idiom describes an ideal situation where nothing is wrong or something that is a total success.

“-ville” – You can add this suffix to any adjective to describe a place, real or imaginary. Coolsville is where all the hip daddy-os hang out. Squaresville is full of nerds. And Nashville, well, that’s actually just the name of a city in Tennessee.

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“Cruising for a bruising” – Tough guys like James Dean dropped this catchy line to let other fellas know that they were seconds away from instigating a fight. Violence is never the answer, but at least these toughs had a passion for rhymes.

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“Pile up z’s” – Frank Sinatra would’ve done this after a long night of performing and partying with the Rat Pack out in Vegas. It just means going to sleep — with or without the most famous set of blue eyes in the world.

“Razz my berries” – How did people in the 1950s feel about fruit? Well, if something got your proverbial berries razzed, then you felt excited or impressed. There’s no evidence of anyone’s berries ever being cranned or blued, however.


“Meanwhile, back at the ranch…” – At the end of a long digression, people used this phrase to get a conversation back on track. The phrase is a reference to western dramas, which were everywhere in the 1950s, and was meant to curtail blabbermouths, who are still everywhere.

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“Go for pinks” – Hear those motors rumbling in the distance? That sound usually follows this phrase, which is a challenge to drag race. The winner would get the pink slip to the loser’s car, giving him ownership.


“Bash my ears” – Ralph Kramden probably wasn’t hip enough to know the slang of his time, but the main character of The Honeymooners certainly knew what it was like to get your ears bashed, or to get talked at too much.

“Knuckle sandwich” – If you’re familiar with this dish, then you know you won’t find it on an actual menu. A knuckle sandwich is nothing but a punch delivered straight to the mouth. Worst of all, it doesn’t come with fries.

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“Earth pads” – You might be thinking this term has something to do with the space race, but you can get those images of rockets and satellites out of your head. Earth pads the strips of rubber keeping your feet off the dirt, otherwise known as shoes.

“Agitate the gravel” – This saying isn’t literal, so no need to start a brawl with your driveway. It’s roughly equivalent to “let’s go,” but with lots of extra syllables. Perfect for when you’re at a boring place, but aren’t in a hurry.

“Daddy-o” – Every greaser knew daddy-o referred to a man, usually a cool one. And while Americans won’t find a self-described daddy-o outside of a vintage diner, there is one place in the world where plenty of people still hold on to that label.

When you picture the average Tokyo resident, you might imagine a businessman who spends most of his time crammed into crowded subways or board meetings. There are plenty of those, but not everyone in Japan is so buttoned-up.

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Daigo Yamashita certainly isn’t one of those squares. Going by the moniker Johnny Jeana, he spends each morning meticulously sculpting his hair into a tall, slicked-back mound. It’s a tribute to one man who’s the personal hero of Johnny and many others in Japan.


That would be the King of Rock and Roll. Even decades after his death, Elvis Presley remains as iconic a cultural touchstone as ever. His heyday during the 1950s represents an era of fun and innocence that many fans are desperate to connect with.

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Most people can get their 1950s fix simply by checking out a retro diner or watching an old movie. Johnny Jeana and his pals, on the other hand, are far more dedicated. It’s not unusual for all of Tokyo to be staring at them.

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These diehards make up Tokyo’s little-known rockabilly subculture. Instantly recognizable by their incredible pompadours and leather get-ups, the greasers frequent many of the city’s parks on weekends. They’re not just playing dress-up either.

The rockabilly lifestyle is the most important part of many of their lives, and some have been members of this retro circle since their teens. As a matter of fact, Japan’s love affair with American rock and roll predates Elvis.

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The Japanese weren’t just following American trends; they made the culture their own. From the day that singer Chiemi Eri covered “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets in 1955, greasers popped up all over the country, which terrified more conservative folk.

A biker gang called the kaminari zoku, meaning “thunder tribe” arose soon after. They tore up the streets with rampant drug use, fighting, and illegal racing, but also provided a sense of identity for youth raised in a country ravaged by war.

With the Cold War brewing not long after, the leather clad-gangs died out. Japan was no longer as interested in imitating the fashions of the politically aggressive Americans. Still, they couldn’t stay away from rock forever.

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The 1980s saw Japan’s love for the oldies come roaring back. All of the sudden, there were more pompadours and pointed boots walking Tokyo’s streets than ever. Musicians started blasting rockabilly music around every club and street corner.

Between writing their own boogie-woogie tunes and covering classics by Elvis and Eddie Cochran, rock and roll seemed like it was here to stay. Specialty stores opened up for greasers like Johnny Jeana to always dress to the nines.

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Specialty boutiques like Jumpin’ Jack’s peddle the vintage clothing and tubs of pomade necessary to keep this subculture alive. But make no mistake — the ardent rockabillies are more than just a fashion trend.


It’s a way of life, one that places extensive demands on the greasers’ wallets and careers. Johnny, for instance, works as a nightclub rock singer whenever he can land a gig. Every minute of stagetime is becoming increasingly precious.

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That’s because, with every passing year, it’s undeniable that Japanese rockabilly is shrinking. Leaders of the movement are getting older or dropping out, while many younger people simply aren’t interested in reviving 1950s counterculture.

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For long-standing members, keeping up with retro looks can take its toll. Members of the Rockabilly Club often resort to keeping their old boots intact with duct tape. Others who are severely balding have given up on their slicked-back ducktails.


Even so, any Japanese greaser will tell you that they wouldn’t give up the lifestyle for anything in the world. They still meet up every Sunday in the scenic Yoyogi Park to crank up some Bill Haley and shake a tail feather.

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Throw in a couple souped-up hot rods, and the rockabillies are guaranteed to draw a crowd any given weekend. The exposure should keep this niche group going, especially in the age of social media. A few animal-lovers in the group have already acted accordingly.

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With custom jackets and biker goggles, a couple canines have joined the trend! That adds an extra layer of meaning when the greasers get down to Elvis’ “Hound Dog.” While members consider themselves descendants of the kaminari zoku, the modern gang is far more accessible.

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With such an invigorating blend of old and new, East and West, Japense rockabilly will live on. After all, far more elaborate subcultures are flourishing in other parts of the world. Maybe Johnny Jeana can take a hint from some of the more metal rockers out there.


Under the open sky of the Mojave Desert, a mob dressed in tattered leather cheers on a fire-breather. It looks a lot like some barbaric civilization risen out of the ashes of the apocalypse. But it’s something else entirely.

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It’s a yearly festival! Known as “Wasteland Weekend,” the California event spans four days and welcomes fans of all things post-apocalyptic to party down and show off their striking costumes. One particularly big cultural touchstone inspired the festival.

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The George Miller fans out there will recognize that Wasteland Weekend is all about Mad Max. This film franchise depicts a dystopian future where humanity breaks down into violent tribes and fights over the remaining resources.

With the popularity of the Mad Max films, thousands of wastelanders make it out to the festival every year. Attendees kick up a huge cloud of dust as they arrive in monstrous, tricked-out vehicles. Up close, the guests are even scarier.

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Each year since the first Wasteland Weekend in 2010, festival-goers show up in crazy outfits. They combine military, punk, and horror elements to create some truly frightening visuals — though it’s all in good fun.

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The most serious attendees put together both incredible outfits and custom vehicles to recreate some of the most iconic moments from Mad Max. It’s hard to miss one of the series’ biggest villains — or at least a guy dressed like him — perched atop this vehicle.

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It’s the fearsome Immortan Joe! In Mad Max: Fury Road, he rules over the wasteland with an iron fist and a massive army of cultish supporters. In real life, fortunately, Joe is just at the festival to have a wild time.

Naturally, War Boys — ghoulish members of Immortan Joe’s fleet — are a popular costume at the Wasteland Weekend. We can only hope they pack a lot of sunscreen! At the same time, the festival also offers plenty for fans of the older Mad Max flicks.


Tina Turner made a big splash back in 1985 as Aunty Entity in the series’ third installment, Beyond Thunderdome. Thanks to Wasteland Weekend, her deadly arena is more than just a figment of George Miller’s imagination.

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Thunderdome is real! Of course, they take plenty of safety measures to ensure that nobody is actually clobbered to pieces. Participants wear safety harnesses, and the “weapons” are made of PVC pipe and foam. Still, this Thunderdome makes for a fun show.

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And for guests who’d prefer not to get so down and dirty, Thunderdome also has a thumb wrestling version. The miniature cage will stop your opponent from using his other hand to cheat.

Wanderlust and Pie

Along with the number of guests paying homage to specific characters, Wasteland Weekend offers plenty of room for creativity. Many others piece together totally original costumes, with unique personas to boot. They only add to the depth of the festival.

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Take, for example, this mohawked raider. Between his hair spiked shoulder pads, he sure looks sharp. There may not be much water after the apocalypse, but it looks like there is still plenty of hair gel to go around.


But this woman isn’t green with envy – except for her hair. She’s got her own dazzling get-up. Channeling a bit of Disney’s evil Maleficent, she created a character she calls The Sand Witch.

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Speaking of apocalyptic wordplay, these gearheads transformed an old school bus and dubbed it a “Cruel Bus.” With a set of scary jaws painted on the front and a (fake) harpoon launcher on the roof, it certainly lives up to its name.

Daily Mail / Todd Seelie

The Cruel Bus isn’t the only vehicle with a bark as big as its bite. With a few buckets of paint, one owner of a finned 1962 Cadillac turned his ride into a shark.

In addition to the cars and trucks, attendees show up with lots and lots of motorcycles. These bikes are perfect for speeding across the Mojave terrain. It gets hot riding through the desert with no roof, but lots of Wastelanders have inventive ways to stay out of the sun.

This partygoer not only covered her face in a sinister wrap and headdress; she also brought along a metal umbrella. That’s the kind of accessory that’s perfect for creating some shade and winning some glory in the Thunderdome!

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With his ominous mask and black wings, it’s no surprise this reveler calls himself The Crow. It’s hard to believe that after the long weekend wraps up, The Crow probably flies back to some office job!

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And if night falls before you arrive, just look for a lantern lighting the way. Professional cosplay model Jessica Nigri stole the entire show with her ghostly shaman costume.

Las Vegas Review-Journal / Benjamin Hager

Wasteland Weekend happens at the end of every summer in California City. If you make it out there, you shall ride eternal, shiny, and chrome. Will next year be your time to take over the world?

Daily Mail / Todd Seelie