What turned Epiphany into a baby name in 1987?

The character Epiphany Proudfoot (played by Lisa Bonet) in the movie "Angel Heart" (1987).
Epiphany Proudfoot from “Angel Heart”

The name Epiphany debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1987, and saw peak usage the next year:

  • 1990: 37 baby girls named Epiphany
  • 1989: 33 baby girls named Epiphany
  • 1988: 55 baby girls named Epiphany [peak]
  • 1987: 15 baby girls named Epiphany [debut]
  • 1986: unlisted
  • 1985: unlisted

Where did the come from?

The 1987 neo-noir/horror movie Angel Heart. The main character was a detective (played by Mickey Rourke), but one of the other key characters was a Louisiana teenager — and voodoo priestess — named Epiphany Proudfoot (played by Lisa Bonet).

When the detective and Epiphany first met (vid), about midway through the movie, he made several comments about her name:

  • “Your momma left you with a very beautiful name, Epiphany.”
  • “You’re a very pretty girl, Epiphany. Your name suits you.”

The variant spellings Apiphany, Apiffany, and Piffany all debuted in the data in 1988. (But these names, particularly Piffany, may have been influenced by the rise of Tiffany that year as well.)

One variant that didn’t make the data was the one given to professional basketball player Epiphanny Prince, born in 1988.

Epiphany Proudfoot — both in temperament and in name — was vastly different from Denise Huxtable, the character Lisa played on The Cosby Show.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Epiphany?


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