Prashant Kumar

List of 29 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

Ever wondered why some celebrities go by names that sound different? It’s a tale as varied as the stars themselves. Let’s dive into the intriguing world of celebrities who’ve changed their names and the reasons behind their transformations.

From Katy Perry to Vin Diesel, these stars have more than just talent in common. Each name change carries a story, sometimes unexpected and often influenced by personal connections or professional aspirations.

But what’s really in a name? Is it just a label, or does it hold deeper significance for these renowned figures? Join us as we unravel the mysteries behind these transformations and explore the impact of a name on fame.

1. Katy Perry

Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, who goes by the stage name Katy Perry, is an American artist. Originally named Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, she opted for the name change to avoid any potential confusion with actress Kate Hudson, despite having released her debut album in 2001 under the moniker “Katy Hudson”. Perry chose to adopt her mother’s maiden name for professional purposes.

2. Demi Moore

Demi Gene Moore is a well-known American actress and producer. Originally named Demetria Gene Guynes, she opted to use the shorter version of her first name, Demi. The surname “Moore” stems from her prior marriage to singer Freddy Moore.

3. Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Joanna Aniston is an American actress. Contrary to popular belief, Aniston’s birth name isn’t Rachel Green, but rather Jennifer Linn Anastassakis! Her father, John Aniston, who is of Greek descent and also an actor, opted to alter the family surname upon entering the entertainment industry.

4. Miley Cyrus

Miley Ray Cyrus, an American entertainer, adjusted her name from Destiny Hope to Miley Ray in 2008, drawing from her childhood nickname “Smiley.”

5. John Legend

John Legend, an American artist renowned for his talents in singing, songwriting, piano playing, record production, and acting, was born on December 28, 1978, in Springfield, Ohio, United States.

In 2008, he shared with MTV that the moniker “John Legend” originated from friends and gradually became his stage identity. He noted that over time, it became more recognized among his acquaintances than his birth name.

6. Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman, an American actress, was born Neta-Lee Hershlag. She adopted the surname “Portman” from her paternal grandmother for privacy concerns. She was born on June 9, 1981.

7. Alicia Keys

Alicia Augello Cook, professionally recognized as Alicia Keys, is an accomplished American vocalist and composer. Interestingly, her decision to alter her name from Alicia Augello Cook was influenced by her deep passion for music, particularly showcased through her remarkable piano talents.

8. Whoopi Goldberg

Caryn Elaine Johnson, professionally known as Whoopi Goldberg, is an American entertainer celebrated for her work in acting, comedy, writing, and television hosting. She once shared the origin of her stage name “Whoopi,” explaining that it was inspired by the playful item, the whoopee cushion.

In essence, it’s about embracing natural bodily functions. People likened me to a whoopee cushion because I believe in letting things out when needed,” she explained to The New York Times in 2006.

As for her surname, Goldberg, she chose to adopt it from her mother’s side, aiming to establish a sense of credibility and connection to her family heritage.

While my given name isn’t Whoopi, Goldberg is deeply rooted in my family history. It’s a part of my identity, much like my heritage as a Black woman,” she disclosed to The Jewish Chronicle in 2011.

9. Winona Ryder

Winona Laura Horowitz, who goes by the stage name Winona Ryder, is an American actress. She decided to alter her surname from Horowitz when prompted about her preferred name display in the credits for her debut role. Ryder proposed the name “Ryder” while Mitch Ryder’s album was playing in the background.

10. Elton John

Sir Elton Hercules John, a distinguished British artist, is renowned for his contributions as a singer, songwriter, and pianist. The adoption of the name “Elton John” was inspired by his admiration for two blues icons: saxophonist Elton Dean and vocalist Long John Baldry. Discontent with his original name, he opted for a legal change in May 1972, incorporating the middle name “Hercules.”

Reflecting on this transformation, he remarked in a 1987 interview with The Daily Express, “Becoming Elton John felt like a fresh start. I had grown weary of my birth name, which held associations with past distress.” Expressing disdain for his former moniker, he added, “I held a strong aversion to the name ‘Reg’; it simply did not resonate with me.

11. Dove Cameron

Dove Cameron, an American singer and actress, was born on January 15, 1996, in Bainbridge Island, Washington, United States. She rose to prominence for her portrayal of the titular characters in the Disney Channel comedy series Liv and Maddie, a performance that earned her the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in Children’s Programming.

In a heartfelt tribute to her late father, Dove legally changed her name from Chloe to Dove, a nickname he often used. Reflecting on this decision, she shared with StyleWatch, “He called me Dove more than he ever called me Chloe. He passed away when I was 15, and I decided to legally change it. So it’s on my passport — everything legal is Dove.”

Despite the name change, Dove disclosed on Twitter in September 2017 that she answers to both names, and her close circle of friends and family still affectionately refer to her as Chloe.

12. Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan is an American actress and filmmaker, recognized for her prominent portrayals of unique and charming characters since the late 1980s. Her full name is Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra. She adopted the surname “Ryan,” her grandmother’s maiden name, upon joining the Screen Actors Guild, according to Entertainment Weekly.

13. Vin Diesel

Mark Sinclair, who is recognized in the entertainment industry as Vin Diesel, is an American actor and film producer.

Before his rise to fame, the moniker Mark Sinclair didn’t quite match the image he projected while working as a bouncer in New York City.

To adopt a more fitting persona, he chose to truncate his mother’s maiden name, Vincent, for his first name. Regarding “Diesel,” he humorously explained on Late Night with Conan O’Brien that friends bestowed him with the nickname due to his seemingly boundless energy.

14. Nicki Minaj

Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty, professionally recognized as Nicki Minaj, is a rapper and vocalist originating from Trinidad and Tobago, now residing in the United States. Minaj’s stage name is derived from her birth name, Onika Tanya Maraj.

15. Jamie Foxx

Eric Marlon Bishop, who goes by the stage name Jamie Foxx, is an American entertainer recognized for his work in acting, singing, and comedy. He originally bore the name Eric Marlon Bishop but adopted the gender-neutral moniker Jamie Foxx during his early stand-up performances.

According to Yahoo!, Foxx opted for a name that leaned towards the feminine side due to the common practice of female comedians being given priority on stage. The selection of “Foxx” pays homage to the renowned actor Redd Foxx, best known for his role in Sanford and Son.

16. Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix is an American actor. During the late 1970s, his family decided to change their surname from Bottom to Phoenix as a symbol of a fresh start.

17. Martin Sheen

Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez, professionally known as Martin Sheen, is an American actor. He revealed to Closer Weekly in June 2022 that he regrets not legally retaining his birth name.

Expressing his remorse, he stated, “That’s one of my regrets. Sometimes, under influence, you make decisions without adequate insight or courage to uphold your beliefs, and later, you face consequences.

He further explained, “I never formally altered my name. It remains Ramon Estévez on my birth certificate, marriage license, passport, and driver’s license.

18. Bruno Mars

Peter Gene Hernandez, professionally recognized as Bruno Mars, is an American singer-songwriter. Hernandez revealed to Latina magazine that his father affectionately called him Bruno from the age of 2.

I intended to adopt ‘Bruno’ as my single moniker. The addition of ‘Mars’ was merely a playful notion, suggesting grandeur. It was as straightforward as that.”

19. Tom Cruise

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV is a renowned American actor and producer. While he may be the most recognized Tom Cruise in Hollywood, he’s not the only one in his family! Originally named Thomas Cruise Mapother IV at birth, he adopted Cruise as his surname at the suggestion of an agent.

20. Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas, the American actor and filmmaker, was born on December 9, 1916, in Amsterdam, New York, United States.

In a 2015 interview with PEOPLE magazine, Douglas shared that prior to venturing into the entertainment industry, he opted to alter his name due to its unwieldy nature and perceived incongruity with the Hollywood milieu at the time.

Reflecting on this decision, he expressed a sense of regret, remarking, “I wish I had retained my original name. It adds a layer of intrigue. However, envisioning that name displayed on a marquee is quite a stretch.

21. Lily James

Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson, widely recognized by her stage moniker Lily James, is a talented English actress. Originally born with the name Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson, she chose to adopt the surname James as a tribute to her father, James Thomson, who sadly passed away due to cancer in 2008.

25. Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde is an American entertainer, involved in acting, directing, and producing. As a homage to one of her beloved authors, Oscar Wilde, she adopted the surname, Wilde, legally changing it from Cockburn when she embarked on her acting career. 

26. Calvin Harris

Adam Richard Wiles, professionally known as Calvin Harris, is a Scottish artist proficient in DJing, producing records, singing, and songwriting. As mentioned in an interview with the Shortlist in 2009, the musician expressed that he opted for the name change to capitalize on the potential ambiguity of his stage name, as reported by Esquire. “My initial single leaned towards soul music, and I believed Calvin Harris conveyed a certain racial ambiguity,” he explained. “I wanted to maintain a level of uncertainty regarding my ethnicity. Once I made that choice, I felt compelled to stick with it.

27. Charlie Sheen

Carlos Irwin Estévez, professionally recognized as Charlie Sheen, is an American actor. Carlos Irwin Estevez adopted his father’s stage name Charlie when he embarked on his acting career.

28. Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton, an American actress, initially adopted the surname Keaton, which happens to be her mother’s maiden name, due to the existence of another actress named Diane Hall in the Actors’ Equity Association, as reported by Vogue.

29. Nina Dobrev

Nina Dobrev, known professionally as Nina Dobrev, is a Canadian actress of Bulgarian descent. Dobrev chose to abbreviate her name from Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva.

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