Baby name story: Nira

Nyra Monsour in TV Guide (Jan. 1959)
Nyra Monsour

Actress Nyra Monsour, who was primarily active during the latter half of the 1950s, and who made “a specialty of playing exotic beauties on TV,” wasn’t really a Nyra — she was a Nira.

She was born to Syrian parents in California in January of 1934.

Her father, an unemployed movie-studio carpenter in Santa Monica when she was born, named her Nira Rose Monsour out of respect for the government checks that paid the hospital bills.

She was one of the many babies named after the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA). Because of her name, her family was invited to Washington to meet the president. (They didn’t end up going, though.)

Columbia Pictures altered the spelling of her name prior to her first move, The Saracen Blade (1954). The studio “felt that Nyra looked better” than the original spelling, the actress said.

Source: “Named for an Act of Congress.” TV Guide 31 Jan.-6 Feb. 1959: 20-22.

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