50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

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50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names
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You’ve probably heard of Olivia Wilde. But have you heard of Olivia Jane Cockburn? Well, that happens to be the actress’s given name. We all know Stevie Wonder is an icon, but there’s a good chance he might not have had the same level of success had he kept his real name, Stevland Judkins. And these are just two of a long line of celebrities who changed their names.

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It’s not uncommon for actors to adopt stage names—often their real ones are too long, difficult to pronounce, “too ethnic,” or simply not sexy enough for the marquis (ahem, the aforementioned Olivia Jane Cockburn).

Plus, in some cases, certain professional orgs, such as the Screen Actors Guild, stipulate that no two members may have identical working names, causing some stars to change their names even if they weren’t planning to (for example, Julia Roberts was born Julie Roberts, but there was another actor registered under that name).

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In the interest of “who knew?!” celebrity facts (our favorite kind), we’ve rounded up 50 celebrities’ real names, and for some, explained why they changed them. Others, as you’ll see, are pretty self-explanatory.

Click through this gallery and let us know: Which celebrities’ real names shocked you the most?

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  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Click through the gallery to see 50 celebrities who changed their names (and what their real names are!).

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Lorde
    Real name: Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor
    "When I was trying to come up with a stage name, I thought ‘Lord’ was super rad but really masculine. Ever since I was a little kid, I have been really into royals and aristocracy, so to make Lord more feminine, I just put an ‘e’ on the end! Some people think it’s religious, but it’s not," the pop star told Interview magazine.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Lea Michele
    Real name: Lea Michele Sarfati
    Not shockingly, she dropped her surname.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Fetty Wap
    Real name: Willie Maxwell
    The rapper told globalgrind.com that fetty is slang for money, and Wap is derived from his idol's nickname (Alabama rapper Gucci Mane, who's called Guwop).

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Olivia Wilde
    Real name: Olivia Jane Cockburn
    Clearly, Olivia's team wanted her professional name to reflect more sex appeal than her given name.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Iggy Azalea
    Real name: Amethyst Amelia Kelly
    Call us crazy, but we think Amethyst would have been just as effective.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Tyga
    Real name: Michael Ray Nguyen-Stevenson
    Also known as Mr. Kylie Jenner.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Reese Witherspoon
    Real name: Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon
    The Southern-bred actress decided to drop Laura and Jeanne and take her mothers' maiden name (Reese) as her professional name.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Tina Fey
    Real name: Elizabeth Stamatina Fey

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Rachel Zoe
    Real name: Rachel Zoe Rosenzweig
    The power stylist, reality star, and designer likely dropped her last name to appear less ethnic.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Whoopi Goldberg
    Real name: Caryn Elaine Johnson
    The actress and talk show host decided to go with the name Whoopi because of—wait for it—a whoopee cushion. She's stated that "if you get a little gassy, you've got to let it go. So people used to say to me, 'You're like a whoopee cushion.' And that's where the name came from." Um, ew. And as for Goldberg? It's been reported that her mom felt that Johnson wasn't "Jewish enough" to make it in showbiz. Odd, considering most actors with traditionally Jewish names change them to something more ethincally ambiguous.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Portia de Rossi
    Real name: Amanda Lee Rogers
    The Australia-born actress changed her name as a teenager, stating that she wanted to reinvent herself with the first name Portia (after a Shakespeare character) and an Italian last name.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Woody Allen
    Real name: Allan Stewart Konigsberg
    The iconic writer and director legally changed his name to Heywood Allen when he was 17 years old and started calling himself Woody.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Helen Mirren
    Real name: Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Julia Roberts
    Real name: Julie Roberts
    Early in her career, Roberts took the name Julia because there was already an actress registered under the name of Julie Roberts.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Demi Moore
    Real name: Demetria Gene Guynes
    The actress shortened her first name and adopted the last name of her first husband, musician Freddy Moore, whom she married in 1980.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Courtney Love
    Real name: Courtney Michelle Harrison

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Carmen Electra
    Real name: Tara Leigh Patrick
    In 1991, the sexpot changed her name to the decidedly unrealistic Carmen Electra after signing a recording contract with Prince's record label. (Clearly, her singing career didn't take off.)

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Ralph Lauren
    Real name: Ralph Lifshitz
    The iconic designer changed his unfortunate last name to Lauren when he was a teenager. “My given name has the word shit in it,” he once told Oprah Winfrey. “When I was a kid, the other kids would make a lot of fun of me. It was a tough name. That's why I decided to change it. Then people said, 'Did you change your name because you don't want to be Jewish?' I said, 'Absolutely not. That's not what it's about.'"

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Bruno Mars
    Real Name: Peter Gene Hernandez
    The pop star (and this year's Super Bowl act) has an interesting ethnic background. He's a mix of Filipino, Spanish, Puerto Rican, Hungarian, and Ukranian heritages; he's part Jewish and was born in Hawaii. When Bruno was a kid, his father reportedly nicknamed him Bruno because of his resemblance to professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Dakota Fanning
    Real name: Hannah Dakota Fanning
    Reports have said the actress's father wanted to name her Dakota and her mother preferred Hannah, so they used both. Looks like her dad won out big time.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Charli XCX
    Real name: Charlotte Emma Aitchison
    The pop star's stage name was her MSN Messenger screen name when she was a kid.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Jason Derulo
    Real name: Jason Joel Desrouleaux
    Clearly, the R&B singer wanted folks to pronounce his surname with ease.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Lana del Rey
    Real name: Elizabeth Woolridge Grant
    The singer—who had some mild success as a singer-songwriter in the early-2000s under the name Lizzy Grant—adopted her current stage name when crafting her sultry, old-timey persona. "I wanted a name I could shape the music toward. I was going to Miami quite a lot at the time, speaking a lot of Spanish with my friends from Cuba," she said. "Lana Del Rey reminded us of the glamour of the seaside. It sounded gorgeous coming off the tip of the tongue."

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Miley Ray Cyrus
    Real name: Destiny Hope Cyrus
    The former Disney star and current It star was given the nickname Smiley as an infant, which was later shortened to Miley. She reportedly adopted the middle name Ray not because of her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, but because of her grandfather, Democratic politician (!) Ronald Ray Cyrus, who died in 2006.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Julianne Moore
    Real name: Julie Anne Smith

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Natalie Portman
    Real name: Natalie Herschlag
    The Jerusalem-born actress adopted her grandmother's maiden name as her stage name.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: 2 Chainz
    Real name: Tauheed Epps
    Shocker: The rapper's given name doesn't start with a number and end with Chainz.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Winona Ryder
    Real name: Winona Laura Horowitz
    The actress's stage name was reportedly chosen by her dad, who was listening to soul singer Mitch Ryder when her agent called to ask how she wanted to be credited  in her first film.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Stevie Wonder
    Real name: Stevland Hardaway Judkins
    In the '60s, Motown CEO Berry Gordy signed a young and prodigious Judkins with the name Little Stevie Wonder.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Cher
    Real name: Cherilyn Sarkisian

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Luke Perry
    Real name: Coy Luther Perry III

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Alicia Keys
    Real name: Alicia Augello Cook
    It's been reported that Alicia adopted the last name Keys not because of her incredible piano-playing skills but because her manager suggested it after a dream he had.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Michael Keaton
    Real name: Michael Douglas
    Keaton changed his last name in order to prevent obvious confusion between himself and already-established actor Michael Douglas. After seeing an article on actress Diane Keaton, he reportedly decided he liked the sound of the last name.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Sigourney Weaver
    Real name: Susan Alexandra Weaver
    The actress began using the name Sigourney in 1963; the choice was based on a minor character in The Great Gatsby named Sigourney Howard.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Tiger Woods
    Real name: Eldrick Tont Woods
    The iconic golfer was reportedly nicknamed Tiger in honor of his father's friend, a military colonel who had been known as Tiger.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Oprah Winfrey
    Real name: Orpah Winfrey
    Winfrey's real first name was often mispronounced as Oprah, causing the media mogul to change it.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Jessica Chastain
    Real name: Jessica Howard
    It's been widely reported that the Oscar-nominated actress adopted her mother's maiden name as her acting career took off.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Nicki Minaj
    Real name: Onika Tanya Maraj

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Frank Ocean
    Real name: Christopher Edwin Breau

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Louis C.K.
    Real name: Louis Szekely
    The comedian's real last name is Szekely, but he changed it because it's pronounced "See-kay."

     

     

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Akon
    Real name: Aliaune Damala Akon Thiam
    We can see why he wanted to chop that just a little.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Ashton Kutcher
    Real name: Christopher Ashton Kutcher
    Kutcher started going by the cooler-sounding Ashton when he became an actor at age 19.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Nelly
    Real name: Cornell Iral Haynes

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: R. Kelly
    Real name: Robert Sylvester Kelly

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Kid Rock
    Real name: Robert James Ritchie

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: CeeLo Green
    Real name: Thomas DeCarlo Callaway

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Queen Latifah
    Real name: Dana Elaine Owens
    Latifah—which means delicate and very kind in Arabic—comes from a book of Arabic names the star found when she was 8 years old.

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Elton John
    Real name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight

  • 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names

    Who: Ice Cube
    Real name: O'Shea Jackson

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Click through the gallery to see 50 celebrities who changed their names (and what their real names are!).

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