Yesterday’s Thoughts

November 14, 2005

Famous Rays

A new category for Yesterday’s Thoughts, Famous Rays.

My experience of being named Ray has been curious. I never met a Ray my age until I was in my forties. I was born in 1958 and Ray was a name from an older era. It was the name of the assistant greenskeeper at the country club where I worked and other older men. Ray wasn’t a common name for children in the post-war era.

Data from the Social Security Administration on the frequency of children name Ray since 1890 shows that the name is declining in frequency.

Frequency Rank of the Name Ray: 1890-2004


(The y-axis is 700 – frequency rank, since Excel’s graphing capabilities are nearly useless.)

In the early twentith century, Ray was in the top 100 most common names for male children. It went to 100 in 1948, 206 in 1973, 305 in 1988, 413 in 1993, 516 in 1999 and 618 in 2003. If the name Ray were a stock, you would have been wise to sell in 1932 and things were looking bad by the time I got the name in 1958.

I have been collecting Ray’s over the past few years. I don’t have a complete list by any means (subliminal lazy web request for more) but here is the current list:

  • Ray Bolger
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Ray Charles
  • Ray Conniff
  • Billie Ray Cyrus
  • Ray Eames
  • Ray Goulding
  • Ray Harryhousen
  • Ray Kurzweil
  • Sugar Ray Leonard
  • Ray Liotto
  • Ray Malozzi
  • Ray Ozzie
  • Ray Ramanno
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan

Four of the above appear in the first 30 results from Google. Can you guess which ones?

Any infamous Rays?

Anyway, I am going to start an irregular feature here on famous Rays. We’ll celebrate the bearers of the name, and maybe serve as Ray Central. Is your name Ray? Let’s get to know each other.

5 Comment(s)

  1. Shawn Lea | Nov 30, 2005 | Reply

    Hey, try being named a girl named Shawn 36 years ago when only boys were named Shawn, and they spelled it Sean! ;)

  2. R Cozakos | Jan 9, 2006 | Reply

    That’s a pretty impressive list of Ray’s. Wasn’t there also some guy in a beer commercial in the early 70’s? (“You’s can call me Ray, you’s can call me Jay, you’s don’t have to call me Ray-Jay …”) I didn’t have a TV of my own, so I just caught it once or twice at friends’ places. Maybe it wasn’t beer.

    You say “If the name Ray were a stock, you would have been wise to sell in 1932 and things were looking bad by the time I got the name in 1958.” Why “bad?” Isn’t it better to buy stocks low? Like, say, in 2004 according to your graph? Better to have the name when it is unusual — easier to be remembered by it. Unless someone would prefer being named John Smith. Kinda’ like wearing camouflage in the jungle. Guess it all depends on whether you want to hide out in a crowd or stand out. From reading your blog you seem like the stand-out kind to me.

    As I think about it, that impression has little to do with your name. It’s all about what you do — especially triathalons. In 1962 the ONLY Ray I knew of, after seeing a live performance at the Longshoreman’s Auditorium in SF, was Ray Charles. To this day I can still hear those horns in “Tell The Truth!” Didn’t matter what his name was. If he could put a band like that together, I was impressed.
    Same idea for Ray Liotta in “Something Wild.” The only reason I would watch that movie a second time would be for his part. By any name, that guy was SCARY.

    Did the “original” Sugar Ray show up? To any of his opponents, he was probably pretty scary,too.

  3. R Cozakos | Jan 9, 2006 | Reply

    Yeah, HE was impressive, too, though I never got to see him live — just on TV. Sugar Ray Robinson, that is. (See:“%20rel= )
    Sorry I don’t have the HTML skills to format the link. (When I reluctantly gave up GML for Microsoft Word 15 years ago I thought that “mark-up” stuff was a thing of the past. The radius of the circle was larger than my eye could see at the time.)

  4. R Cozakos | Jan 9, 2006 | Reply

    Is this contagious? Why am I now fascinated with “Fabous Ray’s?”

    I was right, it WAS beer — Miller Lite (no wonder I forgot about it until now), and the character was “Ray Jay Johnson.” Does that count, I mean, not being “real?” (See: )

  5. P Jewell | Jan 16, 2006 | Reply

    My wife and I are expecting and have been disagreeing on names for several months now. I really like Ray – for its simplicity and complete lack of trendiness – and I think she is finally coming around.

    As for famous Rays, growing up, I was a huge fan of boxer, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. He was a tough kid from Youngstown with tremendous heart.

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