Double Whammy Baby Names: Pier & Angeli

pier angeli, life magazine, 1956
Pier Angeli on the cover of LIFE in 1956

While Cyd Charisse gave both her first and last name a boost on the baby name charts, those debuts didn’t happen in the same year.

In the case of Italian-born television and film actress Pier Angeli, though, both Pier and Angeli popped up in the data in 1953:

Year # Piers # Angelis
1956
1955
1954
1953
1952
18 baby girls
25 baby girls
8 baby girls (& 5 baby boys)
11 baby girls [debut]
x
12 baby girls
x
x
14 baby girls [debut]
x

In fact, the name Angeli was the 3rd-highest debut name of the year (after Trenace and Caster).

Pier Angeli was born Anna Maria Pierangeli in Sardinia, Italy, in 1932. Before she launched her U.S. film career, her name was changed:

The movie moguls decided that her name Anna Maria Pierangeli was too long for the lights over a marquee, so it was abridged to Pier Angeli simply by dividing her surname. She didn’t like it, complaining that it was “a boy’s name” which of course it was in Italy, and never used it in private life. Her friends always called her Anna.

Pier Angeli’s first American film Teresa (1951). Her performance impressed critics; she won a Golden Globe Award in 1952 for “Most Promising Newcomer.” And the year after that, her names double-debuted in the U.S. baby name data.

Nowadays, dozens of baby girls are named Angeli every year. Pier is still used as well, but mostly as a boy name. Which name do you prefer?

Which name do you prefer for a baby girl, Pier or Angeli?

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Source: Allen, Jane. Pier Angeli: A Fragile Life. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2002.

P.S. Speaking of dividing a surname to create a stage name…two people who divided a first name to come up with a professional name were actor Kal Penn (born Kalpen Modi) and lyricist Kal Mann (born Kalman Cohen).


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