September 16, 2015
Every year, I check in on the decline of Gary in the Social Security Administration’s baby name database. How I long for 1954, in the unrecognized cool Fifties of Marlon Brando and Miles Davis, when Gary peaked as the ninth most popular boy’s name in America. In 1954, we had Gary Cooper—originally Frank, before his agent from Gary, Indiana suggested a more unique name—just two years after his showdown at High Noon. Cary Grant, our elegant near anagram, was about To Catch a Thief. Oh, how we have fallen, to 560th place, with only 490 unlucky babies named Gary in 2014.