Wednesday, October 23, 2013


In 1987 the name Shadow and it's alternative spelling Shadoe made a sudden impact on the SSA charts in the U.S. Prior to then, the spelling Shadow as a girls name had charted a handful of years in the 70's, and again in 1986. Then in 1987 both spellings charted for both girls and boys. So what happened in 1986/1987 that suddenly put this name on people's radars?

The answer appears to be Shadoe Stevens. Shadoe is well known for his voice work in television and radio (including hosting the 'American Top 40' radio show from 1988-1995) and various acting roles. These days you may recognise him as the announcer on 'The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson'.

By 1986 Shadoe was already well known after he created and produced 'Fred R. Rated for Federated', a series of commercials for United States chain The Federated Group that were so popular that 'Time Magazine' devoted a two page spread to them. 1986 saw Shadoe appear as a regular and announcer on 'The New Hollywood Squares', plus he hosted created and produced an episode of the comedy sci-fi 'The Cinemax Comedy Experiment', titled 'Shadoevision'. This would have given him nationwide exposure.

His name seems to have inspired a number of parents, but Shadoe Stevens was born Terry Ingstad. On his website he explains how the name was actually forced upon him when he was employed by WKRO radio station in Boston. Up until then he had been going by the name Jefferson Kaye, but it was deemed too similar to many other radio personalities at the time. He wasn't quite comfortable with Shadow, as he felt that Orson Welles was the original Shadow, hence the slightly different spelling. It certainly is a distinctive name though, and he created a personality to go with it.

The Shadoe spelling fell out of use by parents by 1998, but Shadow has continued to see use for both genders in small numbers. The only exception was in 2012, when it didn't quite chart for girls. Shadow is a word name meaning shade, and makes for an cool and mysterious sounding Halloween name. Shadows are often seen as spooky and eerie, something that may stem from a basic human fear of the dark. Other associations people have with the term shadow or shade is that it is sometimes used to refer to a ghost or spirit of a dead person, and in Jungian psychology the shadow or shadow aspect refers to the entirety of one's unconsciousness.

I think Shadow has a really great sound, and style wise it reminds me a lot of names like Orion, Griffin and Zephyr. It also has a bit of a super hero type feel to it. However it's possibly just a touch too "out-there" for most people to feel comfortable bestowing it on a child as a first name. On the upside, I think it would make a fantastically quirky and unexpected middle name for the adventurous namer.

1 comment:

  1. I think this has a lovely soft sound, fashionable O ending, and a very evocative meaning. It's one of those names that do seem pretty straight-down-the-line unisex too, as it has both masculine and feminine associations.

    It's probably a bit too superhero for me, but I would love to see someone else use it.