... wherein I bloviate discursively

Brian Clapper,


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Debbie Reynolds starred in Tammy and the Bachelor in 1957. The song she sang in the film, ”Tammy”, reached #1 on the music charts.

For years, I’d heard a story that the popularity of the song caused a spike in the number of children named “Tammy”. I was curious whether that was true.

I happen to have first name popularity data from the Social Security Administration lying around. My copy of the data covers the years 1880 through 2014.

I ran a quick analysis on “Tammy”. Some years are missing in the data, at least for “Tammy”. But, the following graph confirms a spike in the name “Tammy”, coincident with the movie and the song. Of course, that’s not proof that the movie and song caused the spike, but it seems likely.

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Update (29 December, 2016): I performed this analysis using Apache Spark 2.1, on Databricks Community Edition. You can create your own free Community Edition account at

I have a Databricks notebook that will download the Social Security Data, massage it, and save it as a Parquet file, for easy analysis with Apache Spark. You can import the notebook directly into Databricks, as described here. You’ll want this notebook link. A more readable HTML version, which shows the output from a run (and which can also be directly imported into Databricks) is here.

Update (30 December, 2016): As a friend pointed out elsewhere, in the film, the character’s actual name is “Tambrey”, though “Tammy” is used throughout the movie. There are very few people named “Tambrey” in the Social Security data (32 total), and they were all born between 1957 and 1963.

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