Australian actress Nicole Kidman married New Zealand-born country crooner Keith Urban, and they named their second daughter Faith Margaret – “that Southern double name.”
Hang out on a city playground, and you’ll hear kids answering to Hank and Daisy, names that once would have been at home down on the farm, not in the middle of the metropolis.
What explains our affection for good ol’ boy baby names?
I have a theory.
Back in 1975, Gy Waldron – a native of Lexington, Kentucky, born Gyneth Markley Waldron – was the writer/director of a forgettable B-movie called Moonrunners. A few years later, the concept was sanitized for prime time television and reborn as the smash hit series The Dukes of Hazzard.
Hazzard County was pure fiction, and the names worn by the characters were style misfits when the show debuted in 1979. Some of them – Cletus, Enos, Cooter, I’m looking at you – remain stuck in the sticks. But a surprising number of The Dukes of Hazzard names are at the height of fashion a quarter century after the series ended.
The Duke Boys weren’t the first to bring this style to the television. Westerns have long been a small screen staple, and the cast of The Beverly Hillbillies was rich with possibilities: Elly May and Pearl, Jed and Jethro. But the current generation of parents grew up with Bo and Luke Duke outwitting the corrupt Boss Hogg in re-run. Over the series’ eight seasons, many a visitor to Hazzard answered to a great name. Some of these appellations were worn by bit characters and bad guys, naturally, but they’re stylish nonetheless.
Good Ol’ Boy Names from The Dukes of Hazzard
Abel – Sure, he’s Biblical. But so is Luke.
Avery – Some of the names worn by Southern men are now topping the charts – for girls.
Beauregard – The full name of main character Bo Duke.
Brodie – Spelled Brody, this name ranked #999 in 1979. He’s be on the rise ever since.
Cale – Guest star and NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough played himself in two separate seasons. Yarborough’s birth name was William Caleb. In 1979, Cale ranked #900.
Cash – Unranked in 1979, white hot in 2012.
Cowan – Cowan isn’t actually catching on, but I’d guess he’s pronounced exactly like the popular – and ever so controversial – Cohen.
Jacks – The ancestor of Jax?
Luke – The other Duke cousin, Bo’s constant companion. The Biblical Luke has been in steady use over the years. Luke Skywalker arrived in 1979, boosting the name. He ranked #110 when the series debuted. Today, he’s a solidly established pick for a son.
Homer – Is he a classical reference or the bumbling Simpsons patriarch? His appeal probably has more to do with his hickster status.
Hudson – Unranked in 1979, and #112 in 2011, this New York City river was the given name of a visitor to Hazzard County.
Hughie – Okay, Hughie and Huey aren’t style stars. But Hugo is very on trend.
Mason – A character called Mason Dixon was on the show back in the day, when Mason ranked a frosty #455. Today he’s #2 – and poised to overtake the top spot.
Max – Add up all the popular ways to get to Max, and no wonder he’s heard everywhere today.
Simon – He’s Biblical, brainy, maybe a little bit British. And back when he was in style limbo, Simon made an appearance in Hazzard County.
Southern Belles from The Dukes of Hazzard
Anna Lisa – This was a double name on the show, but isn’t she very close to the quickly rising Anneliese?
Daisy – Another main character, Daisy Duke was a mix. Yes, there are the too-short shorts, but she could also be quite fearless and excelled at things like repairing engines. Daisy went from #520 in 1979 to #166 today, so maybe there is a link …
Delilah – Doesn’t she seem perfectly suited to a Southern belle?
Dixie – Okay, Dixie is Daisy’s Jeep, not exactly a character.
Lucinda – Already vaguely folk-country in a very cool way, thanks to Lucinda Williams.
Lulu – There are oodles of formal options to get to this charming nickname.
Maybelle – Mabel is sweetly vintage. Maybelle is definitely hickster.
Rose Ellen – Southern doubles were big on the show, ranging from the expected – Mary Kay, Mary Lou, Sue Ann – the less conventional, like Mandy Jo. Rose Ellen is easily my favorite.
Trixie – Before there was Knuffle Bunny, Trixie was at home in the rural South, not Park Slope.