Where did the baby name Donyale come from in 1966?

African-American fashion model Donyale Luna (1945-1979) on the cover of Vogue magazine (Mar. 1966).
Donyale Luna

The curious name Donyale debuted impressively in the U.S. baby name data in 1966:

  • 1968: 35 baby girls named Donyale
  • 1967: 43 baby girls named Donyale
  • 1966: 15 baby girls named Donyale [debut]
  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: unlisted

Where did it come from?

African-American model Donyale Luna, who, in March of 1966, became the first black model to appear on the cover of Vogue (the British version).

Overnight, she became an international celebrity — not to mention one of the most in-demand models in the world.

A Time article from 1966 described her as “a new heavenly body who…is unquestionably the hottest model in Europe at the moment.”

She was born in Detroit in 1945 with the name Peggy Ann Freeman. In the early 1960s, as a teenager, she started going by the name “Donyale Luna.” The name Donyale may have been inspired by the French name Danielle, while Luna was “perhaps in reference to the era’s fascination with lunar expeditions.”

One of the reasons Luna is not well-remembered today? She passed away from an accidental drug overdose in 1979. This was a year and a half after she gave birth to a baby girl named Dream.

What do you think of the name Donyale?


Image: © 1966 Vogue

P.S. Another popular fashion model from the 1960s who went by a pseudonym was Twiggy

One thought on “Where did the baby name Donyale come from in 1966?

  1. Sad end for Donyale. I knew of a Danyell when I was in grade school, her sister, Tarasonia, was a classmate.

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