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Jennifer Cavalleri and the promise of Jennifers

An article by writer Jennifer Graham appeared in Friday’s Boston Globe, The Rise and Fall of Jennifers. It’s a terrific piece about the once-youthful name now in rapid decline. Not only has it fallen completely off most-popular-names lists, but it’s starting to land, albeit only occasionally, in the obituaries.
Here is an excerpt:

“…But Jennifer was sneaking up on them. By 1969, when Lopez and Aniston were born, it was the third most popular name in the United States. Then the “Love Story’’ movie came out and Jennifer rocketed to No. 1, where she remained until 1985, when ousted by upstart Jessica…

“…The promise of the Jennifers, after all, was immortality. The idea that a Jennifer could wrinkle or die — or, even more shockingly, die in droves — betrays our culture’s highest values: youth, beauty, and sex with people who look like children.

“But if Jennifers are dying, the end must be nearer than I think. It’s like the birthday card that shows a hooded grim reaper, scythe in hand, in a car’s side mirror, with the caption, ‘Objects in this mirror are closer than they appear…

“…But contrary to my initial fears, there are no mass extinctions of Jennifers, not yet.” 

As Graham mentioned in her article, Love Story popularized the name Jennifer. The lead character in the movie, which was played by Ali Magraw, was Jennifer Cavalleri who went by Jenny.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Andi

    I love that movie AND red tights! Interesting to trace the rise and fall of trendy names, that would be fun research.

  2. Territory Mom

    I love this movie. I love Jennifer O’Neill and the Summer of ’42. When I was a kid I wanted my name to be Kathy or Jennifer.

  3. glynis

    If Jennifers never wrinkle or fade and get to wear red tights, then why did my mom choose Glynis? 🙂


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