20 Celebrities Who Have Changed Their Names

 Not every celeb had the fortune of being born with a star-studded name. Here, discover these celebs' real names that pre-dated their fame

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Oprah Winfrey

Born: Orpah Winfrey.

This queen of TV was given the name Orpah on her birth certificate. “People didn't know how to pronounce it,” she told the American Academy of Achievement, “So they put the ‘P’ before the ‘R’ in every place else other than the birth certificate… but that's great because Oprah spells Harpo backwards. I don't know what Orpah spells."

Daniel Locke / PR Photos

Sigourney Weaver

Born: Susan Alexandra Weaver.

After reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby at age 13, Weaver changed her first name to Sigourney after the book’s character Sigourney Howard.

Jill Bednar / PR Photos

Ben Kingsley

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Kirk Douglas

Born: Issur Danielovitch Demsky.

Growing up, Douglas went by Izzy and later changed his name when entering the navy in World War II. His parents were Jewish immigrants and changed their names as well once they moved to New York.

Glenn Harris / PR Photos

Carmen Electra

Born: Tara Leigh Patrick.

Prince discovered the future performer in a Hollywood club, gave her a record deal and suggested she change her name to Carmen Electra. The name stuck!

Courtesy of PMK-BNC Inc.

Woody Allen

Born: Allan Stewart Konigsberg.

Throughout his teens, Allen grew more conscious of the movie industry and at age 15 changed his name. Shortly after, he was hired to write jokes for radio and TV and, a year later, he directed his first film, What’s Up, Tiger Lily?

Anthony G. Moore / PR Photos

Tom Cruise

Born: Thomas Cruise Mapother IV.

Cruise’s intial ambition was to become a priest, but he dropped out of seminary school after one year and developed an interest in acting. Soon after, he adopted his middle name as his last for his on-screen appearances.

Bob Charlotte / PR Photos

Metta World Peace

Born: Ron Artest.

"Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world," World Peace said in a statement after recently having his new name approved and added to his Lakers jersey. He chose the first name Metta, he said, because it’s a Buddhist term meaning “kindness and friendliness.”

Allen Berezovsky / PR Photos

Demi Moore

Born: Demetria Gene Guynes.

The surname Guynes was her stepfather’s and was replaced when she married rock musician Freddie Moore at age 18. After Moore’s marriage to Ashton Kutcher in 2005, she legally accepted his last name but still goes by Demi Moore.

Charles Norfleet / PR Photos

Jamie Foxx

Born: Eric Marlon Bishop.

Foxx took the first name Jamie when he got into stand-up comedy because he said he witnessed women get preference at open mic nights. He also took the last name Foxx after one of his favorite comics, Redd Foxx.

Chuck Tuck / PR Photos

Shania Twain

Born: Eileen Regina Edwards.

When Twain was six, her mother remarried an Ojibwa native named Jerry Twain who adopted [Shania] Twain. When she was 22, her parents were killed in a car accident, and a few years later Twain decided to pursue her musical career and changed her name to Shania meaning “I’m on my way” in Ojibwa.

Robin Wong / PR Photos

Whoopi Goldberg

Born: Caryn Elaine Johnson.

Goldberg has been said to have changed her name because it was “too boring.” She initially went by the name Whoopi Cushion, but when her mother pointed out how ridiculous it was, she changed it.

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Chad Ocho Cinco

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Katy Perry

Born name: Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson.

Two Kate Hudsons is one too many for Hollywood to handle. The singer adopted her mother’s maiden name, Perry, and released her first single in 2007.

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Charlie Sheen

Born: Carlos Irwin Estevez.

Sheen adopted the same last name as his famous father, Martin Sheen, who originally decided on this name to honor the Catholic archbishop and theologian, Fulton Sheen.

Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos

Natalie Portman

Born: Natalie Hershlag.

Portman was originally born in Jerusalem with the last name Hershlag, but took her grandmother’s name for her on-screen debut.

Bob Charlotte / PR Photos

Joaquin Phoenix

Born: Joaquin Rafael Bottom.

Phoenix’s mother and father changed their last names to Phoenix to reflect a “new beginning” as part of the religious cult, Children of God. As a young actor, Joaquin decided to take his parents’ new last name and change his first name to Leaf to be connected to nature like two of his siblings (Rain and River). At age 15, he changed his name back to Joaquin.

Glenn Harris / PR Photos

Helen Mirren

Away! / PR Photos

Bono

Born: Paul David Hewson.

The nickname Bono was given to him by an adolescent friend and is short for “Bono Vox,” an alteration of the Latin Bonavox which translates to good voice. He has adopted the stage name Bono since the late 1970s and friends and family call him Bono as well. 

 

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First Published September 19, 2011

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