Mary is a Grand Old Name

“Mary is a Grand Old Name” was one of the songs in the 1942 film “Yankee Doodle Dandy” in which James Cagney played the role of George M. Cohan, who wrote the song in 1906. Mary was indeed the No. 1 American baby girl name in 1906. In fact, it was the No. 1 name consistently between 1880 and 1946.

From 1947 until 1952, Linda took over the No. 1 spot. But Mary returned to the top in 1953 and stayed there until 1961. In 1962, it was Lisa.

Mary never recovered and the name was not the beneficiary of the 21st century return to old-fashioned names trend. Mary ranked at No. 121 in 2012, its nadir up to that point. Despite Mary’s free fall, it’s still a very respectable position.

Here is the verse from the George M. Cohan song that they left out:

Now, when her name is Mary,
There is no falseness there.
When to Marie she’ll vary,
She’ll surely bleach her hair.
Though Mary’s ordinary,
Marie is fair to see.
Don’t ever fear sweet Mary,
Beware of sweet Marie.

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