We’ve blogged about Wolfram|Alpha’s name data before—but as we stroll into the 2010 movie-awards season here in the United States, we wanted to remind you about this particular tool and to point out a few interesting movie-related queries.

Marlon Brando’s breakthrough film role was 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire, which was followed quickly by major roles in Viva Zapata! (1952), Julius Caesar (1952), The Wild One (1953), and On the Waterfront (1954), which brought him his first Academy Award. It’s hard to attribute the growing popularity of the name “Marlon” in the early 1950s to anything but his growing star power—the name just cracked the top 1000 U.S. names in 1950, but rose to #344 in 1955. His award-winning performance in 1972’s The Godfather prompted an ever bigger jump: “Marlon” became the 218th most popular name in the U.S. that year.

Fraction of U.S. newborns named "Marlon" each year

The name “Dustin” didn’t register among the top 1000 U.S. names at all until 1968—one year after Dustin Hoffman’s appearance in The Graduate—when it entered at #368. The name grew steadily in popularity through the early 1980s, hovering around #42 from 1981 through 1986. Film buffs may wonder whether the legendary box-office flop Ishtar (1987) had anything to do with the subsequent decline in the popularity of “Dustin”—even though Mr. Hoffman brought home an Academy Award for Rain Man in 1988.

Fraction of U.S. newborns named "Dustin" each year

Even science-fiction fans might be surprised by this one: in 1999, the year that The Matrix was released, the female name “Trinity” made a startling jump in the ranks to #209, from #525 the previous year; and even though that movie’s sequels (both released in 2003) were somewhat less well received, the name stayed popular—climbing all the way to #48 in 2004.

Fraction of U.S. newborns named "Trinity" each year

We doubt anyone will be surprised by this one: the popularity of the name “Angelina” began rising dramatically in 2000, the year after Angelina Jolie’s Oscar-winning role in Girl, Interrupted, peaking at #43 in 2005. And for those of you who follow such things: yes, the popularity of “Angelina” began to decline in 2006, the year after her relationship with Brad Pitt became public.

Fraction of U.S. newborns named "Angelina" each year

Found any interesting name trends of your own? Care to predict which of this year’s crop of stars will be commemorated on birth certificates next year? Share your comments with us below—and keep an eye out for historical Academy Awards nominee and winner data coming soon to Wolfram|Alpha.

7 Comments

Interesting! My almost 33 yr. old sister’s name, Aisha, was picked up from Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely?” released in 1976. Apparently, many other families had the same notion. I can’t wait to share the data with her.

Now, I can’t help but wonder if actress Kirsten Dunst’s 1994 break-out role in *Interview with the Vampire* had something to do with the brief surge in popularity of my name. Hmmm….

Kirsten

Posted by Kirsten January 12, 2010 at 5:40 pm Reply

pretty cool info, i bet http://imdb.com would love to show this data

Posted by Joe January 12, 2010 at 6:43 pm Reply

I think it would be awesome if Wolfram Alpha could show names that are just now BECOMING popular, but haven’t reached their peak of popularity quite yet. That way Wolfram|Alpha users could be litterally “ahead of the curve” in terms of kid names haha

Posted by Eric Parfitt January 15, 2010 at 1:22 am Reply

This is a great name trend tool. My site is dedicated to (almost) all things names. I’ll definitely have to link back to this tool.
Marly

Posted by Marly January 24, 2010 at 11:11 am Reply

Hi, magnificent web page. Thank you.

Posted by mersin web tasar?m January 28, 2010 at 5:55 pm Reply

Yea, I’m seeing Trinity still high in 2009 but it’s been dropping off since the Matrix movies – the first of which may be my absolute favorite movie of all time. Hey, cool charts. How were you able to make those trends?

Posted by Linda, VP Baby Names December 21, 2010 at 12:39 am Reply

Any other places you possibly could advise for deeper research?

Posted by Robb June 10, 2011 at 8:57 am Reply
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