Okay, we admit it, we’re huge fans of the JFK-era television show Mad Men, which had its amazing Season 2 finale last night.  One of the show’s many delights is that it gets so many period details pitch-perfect, not least of all the names.

The lead character, on whom we (okay, I, Pam) have an enormous crush, is named Don: How perfect is that?  But it gets better.  Don‘s real name isn’t Don, it’s Dick, a name as redolent of that period as a Buick with fins.

My husband’s name is Dick, and I can testify that it’s a difficult name to bear, especially these days.  In the early sixties, though, it was fairly common, as was my mother-in-law’s name Betty — the name on Mad Men of Don‘s icy, complicated wife.

Other Mad Men names from the show include Peggy, Roger, Joan, and Pete.  It stands to reason that these are choices popular in the thirties and forties, when the characters on Mad Men were theoretically born.  Don and Betty were both Top 10 names from the early 1920s through the early 1940s.

Last year, there were fewer than 1000 babies named Donald (most doubtless named for their fathers and/or grandfathers) and Betty is no longer even in the Top 1000.  But these names will sound more appealing to our own children and may be revived by the next generation.  Instead of Grandma Betty, then, we’ll have granddaughter Betty.  Though we have our doubts about grandson Dick.

About the Author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.