The Origin of Gia

gia scala, actress

The Italian name Gia is a pet form of Gianna, which itself is a contracted form of Giovanna (akin to Joanna). But Gia as a standalone name was very rare in the U.S. until the late 1950s, when usage increased enough for the name to debut in the SSA’s (publicly available) data:

  • 1960: 41 baby girls named Gia
  • 1959: 51 baby girls named Gia
  • 1958: 43 baby girls named Gia
  • 1957: 18 baby girls named Gia [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

What gave it a boost? The first famous Gia in America, actress Gia Scala, whose career took off in the late 1950s.

Her “real” name is hard to pin down. She was born in England with the name Josephine Scoglio. But…she spent her childhood in Italy, and when she applied for U.S. citizenship in 1957, she said her legal name was Giovanna Scoglio.

In any case, she started going by Gia not long after she moved to the U.S. (in the early 1950s), and Universal Studios gave her the stage name “Gia Scala” at the start of her film career.

number of babies named Gia, popularity graph

Since then, several other famous Gias have also influenced the charts…

  • Fashion model Gia Marie Carangi was at the peak of her fame in the late ’70s and early ’80s. It doesn’t look like her modeling career had any impact on the baby name Gia, but when the TV movie Gia starring Angelina Jolie came out in 1998, usage of the name more than tripled, and the compound name Giamarie debuted.
  • Usage more than doubled from 2009 to 2011 (when Gia peaked in the national rankings at 300th place) thanks to two people: reality TV contestant Gia Allamand, who appeared on both The Bachelor and Bachelor Pad in 2010, and celebrity baby Gia Francesca, born to Mario Lopez and his wife in September of 2010.

Do you like the name Gia? Would you ever use it?

Sources: Gia Scala – Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen, Gia Scala – Wikipedia

P.S. Gia Allamand was on the same season of The Bachelor as Tenley Molzahn, whose name, Tenley, also happened to be a 1950s debut in the SSA data.

3 thoughts on “The Origin of Gia

  1. I love both Gia, Giavanna, Giovanna, Giviyanna (in a fanfiction story I read) I also like Gaia (Earth Mother).
    The Juh sound is pleasing to the ear, with Gaia being the exception.
    Giada De Laurentiis is a beautiful name. Her daughter’s name Jade is the English version of Giada.

  2. I like Giovanna better than Gia. Giovanna is just a bit more lyrical, but I can see the appeal of a shorter nickname..

    Robert Pastorelli, the actor who played Eldon the painter on the original run of Murphy Brown, had two daughters, Gianna and Giannina. Why that bit of trivia is stuck in my brain is anyone’s guess.

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