This series is a subset of Spotlight Names dedicated to names that had potential to become huge for a certain decade. They represented a certain era well, but for whatever reason never made it to the top 100. Perhaps for these names, their time is yet to come.
Lara in the 1970s
I’m talking about Lara in the 1970s. Name enthusiasts at the time may have seen potential for Lara back in the preceding decade, if they had access to the Social Security Name data available today.
Lara had never even been in the top 1000 until 1966, debuting at 617. Then something amazing happened. The following year she shot up to 277, then 227, then 224. After her peak, she declined slightly and seemed to plateau in the 300s for most of the 70s.
She continued to decline through the 80s and 90s, but has not yet left the top 1000. Why did Lara miss the mark? Maybe she was too similar to Laura, and parents liked Laura better at the time. Laura does have a more established history (in the U.S.) than Lara, which gives her a leg up for many parents.
The alternate Lora is even more like Lara. And even Lora, which looks like a modern variation, is the more established name (again in the U.S.), never ranking below the top 500 since 1880. Perhaps parents reasonably feared Lara would get confused for Laura or Lora.
Some feel Lara’s time is now. Lara was on the list of predicted top names for 2015, the Freakonomics list I often reference, published back in 2005. Making Lara more susceptible to discovery is her interesting and relatively modern history. She has two qualities appealing to many parents in 2012, exotic and literary roots. Lara is the Russian short form of Larisa introduced to the U.S. as a character in the novel Doctor Zhivago.
The book was published in 1957 and the movie was released in 1965. Lara entering the top 1000 just a year later is surely no coincidence. Perhaps a movie is the kind of connection that makes a name seem immediately fresh and then suddenly stale. Now enough time has passed since the movie’s original release that Doctor Zhivago could be considered a classic, giving Lara more credibility and long-term appeal.
She did see a slight increase in 2010, up 51 spots to 881. As I mentioned before, there’s no telling what a name will do next. If I was alive back in 1969 and a betting woman, I would have bet Lara was bound to reach the top 50, possibly the top 25 by 1979 and I would have lost. Lara’s numbers from the late 60s seem more promising than the numbers from today, but she could take off out of nowhere. No one knows.
As Laura hits her lowest rank ever at 275 and Lauren, which started to take Laura’s place in the 80s and 90s, starts to decline, perhaps Lara will be poised as the fresh simple alternative. Time will tell.
Readers: Do you think Lara is poised to take off? Which decade best represents Lara’s style: the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010 or is Lara timeless, with a sound not tied to a specific time?