For as quickly as Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre made the decision to get married after their second engagement, it seems as though they skipped a few important conversations: Although Meryle Secrest’s biography, “Leonard Bernstein: A Life,” recounts his assurances to a reporter, that, “… from now on, my bride will be Mrs. Bernstein and will forget she was Miss Montealegre,” she absolutely did not take the name “Bernstein.” Still, they were still on their year-long honeymoon when they announced she was expecting their first child — which, again, seemed to come before a few crucial conversations.
Leonard’s father, Sam, made it very clear throughout the pregnancy that he was hoping for a boy, and the pressure went over about as well as could be expected. When she gave birth to a girl, they had originally agreed on the name Nina. Leonard, however, reportedly vetoed the name at the last minute, and insisted on naming their little girl Jamie. She protested, but relented.
Montealegre would get to use the name she’d wanted for their third child, born in 1962 — a decade after the first. In between was Alexander, born in 1955, and although Bernstein loved his children, his parenting skills weren’t without reprimand: Montealegre reportedly observed, “He plays too hard, throws them too high, squeezes them too tight.”