TV Character Names: Dynasty & Dallas
Once in a while some pop culture phenomenon comes along that doesn’t just reflect the name gestalt of its day, but actually influences it. This was the case with the glossy nighttime soaps of the late 70s and early 80s–most particularly Dynasty—which were all about wealth and greed, ambition, melodrama, campy catfights –and humungous shoulder pads.
The writers on these shows were quite ingenious in the way they came up with names that reflected perfectly those values and vices. Male names that were short, sleek, and powerful. Sophisticated, boyish women’s names like Arliss that were a complete reversal of the previous decades’ unisex nicknamish names like Jodie and Jamie. Elegant surname names such as Blake Carrington.
Probably the most influential was the name of Blake’s ex-wife, that evil viper, Alexis. Despite the character’s villainy, her name took off, and was instrumental in the success of other Alexi: Alexandra, Alexa, Alex et al. In the year before Dynasty debuted in 1982, there were scarcely 1500 girls given that name across the country; by 1999, it had reached #3 on the list, with the birth of 19,000 baby Alexises.
The boys’ and surname names for girls trends were definitely given a big boost by these shows. Consider these female characters:
AFTON – DallasARLISS –DallasFALLON – DynastyJORDAN—Falcon Crest (Jordan did not reach the girls’ Top 1000 until 1978, a few year’s after this show debuted, it was #135 and would rise much higher)KIRBY — DynastyLANE — Flamingo RoadPAIGE – Knots LandingSAMMY JO — Dynasty
And then there were those clipped one-syllable boy names, whose impact is still felt:
Here are a few other girls’ names that were probably helped along by these melodramas:
And some that weren’t: