About Names: Movie makes pitch for reviving Mitch

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his August 12 column, he looks at the history of the name Mitchell.

The name Mitch is a short form of Mitchell, originally an English and Irish surname. Some Mitchell families had ancestors nicknamed “Muchel,” a Middle English word for “big.” The word “much” has the same origin. More Mitchells had ancestors named Michel, the medieval English form of Michael. Michael, name of the biblical archangel, comes from Hebrew Mikha’el, “Who is like God?” (The question mark is an important part of the meaning. To ancient Israelites, the answer to the rhetorical question was “No one is like God; God is unique.”)

In the 1950s, band and chorale leader Mitch Miller (1911-2010) helped popularize the name. His version of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” was a No. 1 hit in 1955 — and Mitch moved into the top 1,000 on the list of given names for the first time. In January 1961, Miller began a four-year run as host of television’s “Sing Along With Mitch.” That year Mitch peaked at 397th and Mitchell at 118th on the baby names chart.

Mitchell got a second boost from “Baywatch.” This TV series about gorgeous lifeguards and their romantic entanglements ran from 1989 to 2001 as one of the most successful syndicated shows ever. Star David Hasselhoff played Mitch Buchannon.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Mitches in history!