Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

'Selena' becomes popular name for newborns

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) -- Tejano superstar Selena died March 31, but her legacy will live on in hundreds of Texas girls.

From April 1 to Sept. 8 -- the most recent records available -- 619 newborns were named Selena. In 1994, the name was used 196 times, state health department records indicate.

In Selena's hometown of Corpus Christi, the increase is less dramatic. Nine Nueces County babies were named Selena in the five-month period. In the 12-county Corpus Christi region, the total is 19, according to health department statistics.

Houston's Harris County led the list with 98 Selenas, followed by Dallas County with 72 and Hidalgo with 63. Bexar County reported 55 Selena newborns; El Paso and Tarrant, 36; Cameron, 30; Webb, 18; Travis, 17; and Starr, 11.

"I don't think that's a coincidence -- that's a pretty big jump," Brian King, a statistician in the state health department's Bureau of Vital Statistics, told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times for today's editions.

"We notice this any time there is a public figure who gets elected or dies or some big event like that. For example, after (President) Clinton was elected, there was a surge in the name Chelsea. When the (Chicago) Bulls won the championship, there was a surge in the name Michael."

In Houston, Irene Rodriguez noticed the surge, beginning the Monday after the singer's Friday death.

"Right after her death, it was crazy," said the business representative in the birth certificates department at Houston's Ben Taub General Hospital. "Some of them were spelled with an 'S' and some with a 'C.' Some used it as a middle name."

Ms. Rodriguez said she didn't recall seeing the name before the singer's death. Since then, about 50 newborns have been named Selena, she estimated.

At the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the city of Dallas, the name started appearing on the birth certificates in April, said Celia Salazar, a customer service representative. The incidence declined for a period, but has surged in recent weeks.

Selena Quintanilla Perez was 23 when she was shot in a Corpus Christi motel. Yolanda Saldivar, Selena's former fan club president and overseer of her boutiques, went on trial last week in Houston for murder.

Before Elena Gonzalez, 37, went into labor July 12, she had chosen the name Selena. Then she gave birth to identical twin girls and called them Selena and Selina.

The Robstown woman said she chose the name for the love of the singer.

"When I saw that she had died, I felt so awful," she said.

Some people name their children after celebrities in an effort to identify more closely with the famous, said Eleanor R. Smith, a social psychologist and clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

"They tend to think celebrities are better people and happier people than the average person," Ms. Smith said.

"I think (Selena's) dying may have had the effect of bringing her to the front of their minds," she said. "It's an attempt to immortalize her. People feel maybe that 'Selena is not completely gone if I can name my child after her.'"