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50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names (and What Their Real Names Are)

50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names (and What Their Real Names Are)

3,073,810 July 15th, 2014
Posted in Fashion By
  • RealNames Slide

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

  • VEVO Halloween Showcase - Arrivals

    Who: Lorde
    Real name: Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O'Connor
    The super-buzzy pop singer (we can't get "Royals" out of our head) choose the stage name Lorde. She told Interview magazine: "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.”

    Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
  • ELLE's 20th Annual Women In Hollywood Celebration - Arrivals

    Who: Lea Michele
    Real name: Lea Michele Safarti

    Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images for ELLE
  • The 16th Annual Mark Twain Prize For American Humor

    Who: Tina Fey
    Real name: Elizabeth Stamatina Fey

     

    Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images
  • Closing Night Gala Presentation Of "Her" - Red Carpet - The 51st New York Film Festival

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

    Photo: Getty Images
  • Annual Charity Day Hosted By Cantor Fitzgerald And BGC - Cantor Fitzgerald Office

    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.

    Photo: Mike McGregor/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald
  • Los Angeles Confidential Magazine Celebrates The May/June Issue With Cover Star Portia de Rossi

    Who: Portia de Rossi
    Real name: Amanda Lee Rogers
    The Austrialia-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. 

    Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images
  • ELLE's 20th Annual Women In Hollywood Celebration - Red Carpet

    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. 

    Photo: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images for ELLE
  • Versus Versace Launch Hosted By  Donatella Versace - Arrivals

    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.

    Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images
  • Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong 50th Anniversary Gala

    Who: Helen Mirren
    Real name: Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov

    Photo: Jessica Hromas/Getty Images for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
  • "August: Osage County" Press Conference - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

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

    Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
  • Wallis Annenbsierg Center For The Performing Arts Inaugural Gala Presented By Salvatore Ferragamo - Inside

    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.  

    Photo: (Credit too long, see caption)
  • Elton John AIDS Foundation's 12th Annual An Enduring Vision Benefit - Arrivals

    Who: Courtney Love
    Real name: Courtney Michelle Harrison 

    Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
  • Premiere Of RADiUS-TWC's "Lovelace" - Arrivals

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

    Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images
  • Ralph Lauren - Runway - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014

    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."

    Photo: Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014
  • iHeartRadio Music Festival - Day 2 - Show

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

    Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Clear Channel
  • 2013 Americans For The Arts

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

    Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images
  • iHeartRadio Music Festival Village - Backstage

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

    Photo: Mark Davis/Getty Images for Clear Channel
  • FRANCE-FILM-FESTIVAL-CANNES

    Who: Lana del Rey
    Real name: Elizabeth Woolridge Grant 
    The singer—who had some mild success as a singer-songwriter in the early-2000a 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 towards. I was going to Miami quite a lot at the time, speaking a lot of Spanish with my friends from Cuba," she's said. "Lana Del Rey reminded us of the glamour of the seaside. It sounded gorgeous coming off the tip of the tongue." 

    Photo: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images
  • ELLE's 20th Annual Women In Hollywood Celebration - Red Carpet

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

    Photo: Jeff Vespa/Getty Images for ELLE
  • Miley Cyrus Visits "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon"

    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. 

    Photo: Getty Images
  • 'Thor: The Dark World' Paris Premiere At Le Grand Rex

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

    Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
  • 2013 Budweiser Made In America Fesitval - Day 1

    Who: 2 Chainz
    Real name: Shocker: the rappers' given name doesn't start with a number and end with "Chainz." It's actually Tauheed Epps.

    Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images
  • Marc Jacobs - Backstage - Spring 2014 Collection

    Who: Winona Ryder
    Real name: Winona Laura Horowitz
    The actress' 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.

    Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs
  • UN General Assembly Meeting Goals For Persons With Disabilities

    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. 

    Photo: Getty Images
  • Cher Performs On NBC's "Today"

    Who: Cher
    Real name: Cherilyn Sarkisian

    Photo: Getty Images
  • Premiere Of "Dark Tourist" - Red Carpet

    Who: Luke Perry
    Real name: Coy Luther Perry III

    Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
  • 8th Annual Children's Rights Benefit

    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.

    Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Children's Rights
  • Premiere Of HBO Films' "Clear History" - Arrivals

    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. 

    Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images
  • "The Counselor" - Special Screening - Red Carpet Arrivals

    Who: Sigourney Weaver
    Real name: Susan Alexandra Weaver
    The actress began using the name Sigourney in 1963 after a minor character in The Great Gatsby named Sigourney Howard.

    Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images
  • Tiger Woods v Rory McIlroy

    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.

    Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
  • LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER Los Angeles Premiere, Hosted By TWC, Budweiser And FIJI Water, Purity Vodka And Stack Wines - Red Carpet

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

    Photo: Mike Windle/Getty Images for TWC
  • "The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Him And Her" Premiere - Arrivals - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    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. 
     

    Photo: Getty Images
  • Kmart And Shop Your Way Celebrate Launch Of Nicki Minaj Collection

    Who: Nicki Minaj
    Real name: Onika Tanya Maraj
     

    Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Kmart / Shop Your Way Brands
  • "PUNK: Chaos To Couture" Costume Institute Gala

    Who: Frank Ocean
    Real name: Christopher Edwin Breau

  • Celebrity Sightings In New York City - October 29, 2013

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

     

     

    Photo: Steve Sands/Getty Images
  • 2013 Billboard Music Awards - Arrivals

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

    Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
  • Lenovo Names Ashton Kutcher Product Engineer; Launches Yoga Tablet At YouTube Space In Los Angeles

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

    Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Lenovo
  • Nelly Visits Music Choice

    Who: Nelly
    Real name: Cornell Iral Haynes

    Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images
  • 2013 BET Experience - R. Kelly, New Edition and The Jacksons

    Who: R. Kelly
    Real name: Robert Sylvester Kelly

    Photo: Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for BET
  • 2013 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience - Day 3

    Who: Kid Rock
    Real name: Robert James Ritchie

    Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
  • Katy Perry iHeartRadio Album Release Party

    Who: Katy Perry
    Real name: Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson

    Photo: Getty Images for Clear Channel
  • 2013 Summer TCA Tour - Day 4

    Who: CeeLo Green
    Real name: Thomas DeCarlo Callaway

    Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
  • BET Black Girls Rock Red Carpet

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

    Photo: Bennett Raglin/BET/Getty Images for BET
  • The Rockefeller Foundation 2013 "Celebration Of American Philanthropy" Event

    Who: Elton John
    Real name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight

    Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images
  • "How The West Was Won" Tour At The Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

    Who: Ice Cube
    Real name: O'Shea Jackson

    Photo: Leon Bennett/Getty Images
  • Premiere Of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures & Screen Gems' "Carrie" - Arrivals

    Who: Julianne Moore
    Real name: Julie Anne Smith

    Photo: Getty Images
  • "Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon" Premiere - Arrivals - 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

    Who: Alice Cooper
    Real name: Vincent Damon Furnier
    Rumor has it that the name "Alice Cooper" came from a session with a ouija board.

    Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
  • Demi Lovato Supports Launch Of Redlight Traffic APP With Performance At Dignity Gala

    Who: Demi Lovato
    Real name: Demetria Devonne Lovato

    Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images
  • 12th Annual InStyle Summer Soiree - Arrivals

    Who: Jenna Elfman
    Real name: Jennifer Mary Butala

    Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
  • Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts Gala - Arrivals

    Who: Jodie Foster
    Real name: Alicia Christian Foster
    Foster started using Jodie—a nickname her siblings gave her as a toddler—when she became an actress.

    Photo: Getty Images

You’ve heard of Olivia Wilde, right? But have you heard of Olivia Jane Cockburn, which happens to be the actress’ 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.

MORE: 50 Actors Who Passed on Famous Roles

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

Plus, in some cases, certain acting guilds, such as SAG, 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 registered actress under that name.)

More: 10 Big Pop Songs Originally Written For Other Singers

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 the gallery above and let us know: Which celebrities’ real name shocked you the most?

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