1976-1978: Farrah’s Flash in the Pan
In 1976, the baby name Farrah (which means “happiness”) appeared in the top 1000 baby girl names for the first time ever, debuting at #276. It followed up that strong start with a #177 ranking in 1977, but fell to #539 in 1978. By 1981, Farrah was out of the top 1000 again and would not reappear until 2010. So what gives?
It doesn’t take a baby name detective to trace this short burst of popularity to the actress Farrah Fawcett. In 1976, she appeared in a popular swimsuit pin-up, the movie Logan’s Run, and in the first season of Charlie’s Angels. I don’t know if it was the moms or the dads, but suddenly the name Farrah seemed mighty appealing to some people.
But why the fall from grace? One theory: Farrah upset fans by leaving Charlie’s Angels after only one season, the 1976-1977 season. Se was replaced by Cheryl Ladd, who played her sister (great job by the writers to patch that up, by the way). One interesting side note is that Cheryl was a name on the downswing in in 1977 (#135, down from #35 in 1967), but rallied in 1978 (#94) and 1979 (#94 again). I’m guessing some baby girls named Cheryl in those years might have been named Farrah instead had things gone a little differently.