Stars who changed their names

What’s in a name? A lot — especially if you’re famous! Some of the most well-known people on the planet — from Jennifer Aniston and Gigi Hadid to Ben Affleck and Tom Cruise — started out with very different monikers. is taking a look back at some of the countless celebs who’ve changed their names over the years, beginning with this actress who in April 2021 revealed that she’s now using the real spelling of her name in future projects. Melanie Thandiwe Newton, who’s long gone by her middle name professionally, was billed as Thandie — the “w” was left out — in the credits of her first film, 1991’s “Flirting,” and it stuck. But when she appeared on the cover of British Vogue’s May 2021 issue, she returned to Thandiwe, which means “beloved” in Shona. “That’s my name. It’s always been my name. I’m taking back what’s mine,” she told the magazine. Now keep reading for more…

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“Friends” alum Jennifer Aniston adopted her soap-star father’s stage name. Their real last name is Anastasakis.

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Good thing Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt shortened his name to just Ben Affleck — there might not have been enough room on his Oscar statue to engrave his whole given name!

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Marie Osmond goes by her middle name. Her real first name is Olive.

Tom Cruise’s real name is Thomas Cruise Mapother IV.

Duchess Meghan Markle’s first name is actually Rachel. (Meghan is her middle name.) You might not know her husband’s real name either…

Prince Harry’s given name isn’t actually Harry — it’s Henry Charles Albert David. His parents nicknamed him Harry when he was a baby.

As we all know now thanks to his controversial hit “(Montero) Call Me By Your Name,” Lil Nas X’s real first name is Montero. He was born Montero Lamar Hill.

Gigi Hadid is one of the busiest models in the biz, but would she have had as much success if she went by her given name, Jelena Noura Hadid? (Probably!)

We know him best as his “Game of Thrones” alter ego, Jon Snow, but Kit Harington was actually born Christopher Catesby Harington.

Who could’ve guessed “Garth Brooks” is a stage name? The country music superstar’s real first name is Troyal. Garth is his middle name.

John Legend’s real last name is Stephens.

Halsey is an anagram of the “Bad at Love” singer’s real first name: Ashley. Her real last name? Frangipane. “I didn’t like being Ashley Frangipane. It was a person I thought was weak and silly and sad,” the chart-topper told Rolling Stone in 2016.

Travis Scott was born Jacques Webster. His stage name reportedly pays homage to his “favorite uncle.”

Lily is truly Lily James’s first name, but her real last name is quite a bit longer: The British beauty was born Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson.

You know Melissa Jefferson as Lizzo! JAY-Z’s song “Izzo” inspired the musician, who originally went by Lissa, to change her stage name to Lizzo.

We know her as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, but Jane Seymour was actually born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg. Her stage name honors King Henry VIII’s third wife.

No wonder Helen Mirren has a perfect Russian accent. Her father was Russian, and he gave her the name Helen Lydia Mironoff.

Cardi B’s real name is Belcalis Almanzar. Her stage name was inspired by a liquor brand. “My sister’s name is Hennessy, so everybody used to call me Bacardi,” she once explained to Jimmy Fallon. “Then it was my Instagram name, Bacardi, Bacardi B. But for some reason, my Instagram kept getting deleted, and you know what, I think it was Bacardi that had something to do with it. So I just shortened it to Cardi B.”

Joaquin Phoenix was born Joaquin Rafael Bottom. His parents changed the family’s last name to Phoenix in 1978 to symbolize a new beginning following their departure from the Children of God cult.

Jason Derulo is a shortened version of the singer’s real name: Jason Desrouleaux. Surprisingly, “Desrouleaux” is pronounced the same as “Derulo.”

Pink’s mom and dad named her Alecia Beth Moore. Her colorful stage name is actually an homage to Steve Buscemi’s “Reservoir Dogs” alter ego, Mr. Pink.

Nina Dobrev is a much abbreviated version of the actress’s actual name. Her parents named her Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva when she was born in Bulgaria back in 1989.

Frank Ocean technically has three names! He goes by Frank Ocean professionally. He was born Christopher Edwin Breaux. And he legally changed his name to Christopher Francis Ocean in 2014.

Billie Eilish’s real name is Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell. Can you imagine trying to fit all that on a Grammy?

Black Eyed Peas frontman’s stage name gives us a clue to what his parents named him: His birth certificate reads William James Adams.

Olivia Jane Cockburn changed her name to Olivia Wilde as an homage to Oscar Wilde.

Kal Penn’s stage name is inspired by his real first name: Kalpen. His real full name? That would be Kalpen Suresh Modi.

Tyga is a pretty unique name — but it’s not the rapper’s real one. Kylie Jenner’s ex, who’s of Vietnamese and Jamaican descent, is actually Michael Ray Nguyen-Stevenson.

It might not be a surprise that “Iggy Azalea” is just an alias — but her actual name might surprise you! The rapper was born Amethyst Amelia Kelly. Iggy is actually the name of one of her beloved former pups.

Peter Gene Hernandez explained his stage name — Bruno Mars — during an interview with the Daily News: “I was called Peter at school, but at home I was never called that. I was Bruno. My dad was a fan of the wrestler Bruno Sammartino, who was heavyset. When I was a kid I was a little pudgy. I reminded him of a wrestler,” revealed. As for the second half of his moniker: “That’s because I’m out of this world,” he said.

Wait, Calvin Harris is a stage name?! That’s right! Taylor Swift’s ex was born Adam Richard Wiles.

Blac Chyna’s real name actually contains a different color! The reality star’s given name is Angela Renée White.

Chace is actually Chace Crawford’s middle name. The hunky actor’s real first name is Christopher.

Lea Michele Sarfati shortened her name to plain ol’ Lea Michele.

Mila Kunis is certainly easier to autograph than Milena Markovna Kunis!

Did you know Reese Witherspoon was actually born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon?

Though the world knows him as Ludacris, the rapper’s real name is Christopher Brian Bridges.

Meg Ryan was born with quite a lengthy name: Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra.

Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson changed her name to Katy Perry to avoid being confused with actress Kate Hudson.

Born to a Greek father and an English mother, the late George Michael was originally named Georgios Panayiotou.

Rihanna was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty. “Bad Girl Rob Rob” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

Ashton Kutcher goes by his middle name. His real first name is Christopher.

Nicole Camille Escovedo changed her name to Nicole Richie after dad Lionel Richie adopted her.

Starships were meant to fly — and Onika Tanya Maraj was meant to be Nicki Minaj!

Karen Lucille Hale goes by a pretty little name professionally: Lucy Hale.

Alicia Augello Cook was almost Alicia Wilde before she settled on Alicia Keys for her stage name. “It’s like the piano keys. And it can open so many doors,” she told Newsweek of her chosen moniker.

KISS rocker Gene Simmons was born in Israel in 1949. His parents — Jewish immigrants from Hungary — named him Chaim Witz.

“There was already a Julie Smith, a Julie Anne Smith, there was everything. My father’s middle name is Moore; my mother’s name is Anne. So I just slammed the Anne onto the Julie. That way, I could use both of their names and not hurt anyone’s feelings. But it’s horrible to change your name. I’d been Julie Smith my whole life, and I didn’t want to change it,” Julie Anne Smith told The New York Times of changing her name to Julianne Moore.

Mark Sinclair is better known as Vin Diesel.

Destiny Hope Cyrus shortened her family nickname, Smiley, to create her stage name: Miley Cyrus. In 2008, she legally changed her name to Miley Ray Cyrus.

The late Luke Perry was born Coy Luther Perry III.

Aubrey Drake Graham changed his name to Drake because — let’s be honest — you can’t rap about woes with a name like Aubrey.

When Jerusalem native Neta-Lee Hershlag became an actress, she Americanized her first name and adopted her grandmother’s maiden name to become Natalie Portman.

Mindy Kaling was born Vera Mindy Chokalingam.

Jon Bon Jovi’s real name is more of a mouthful — it’s John Francis Bongiovi Jr. Drop a couple letters here and there and you’ve got a rock star-worthy moniker!

Eric Marlon Bishop’s stage name — Jamie Foxx — is a tribute to comedian Redd Foxx. He reportedly settled on the name Jamie because it’s gender neutral: According to reports, the Oscar winner wanted an ambiguous stage name because he discovered that female comedians were often called on stage to perform first at stand-up gigs.

Steven Tyler’s real name is Steven Victor Tallarico.

C’mon, you didn’t think Queen Latifah was her real name, did you? The rapper-actress was born Dana Elaine Owens. “Latifah is a nickname that I chose when I was about 8. It means delicate, sensitive,” she once explained to Time. “I was kind of big as a kid, but I felt that name fit me. Later, when I was about to sign a record contract, I didn’t want to be MC Latifah. So I decided on Queen.”

Winona Laura Horowitz eventually became Winona Ryder — with the help of Charlie Sheen, apparently! “We were listening to The Doors, to ‘Riders on the Storm,'” the actor claimed of his “Lucas” co-star. “[Winona’s] real name is Horowitz. And I said, ‘You know, I’m thinking Winona Ryder sounds cool,’ and she was like, ‘Yeah!'”

Antonio Banderas’s full name is José Antonio Domínguez Banderas.

Elizabeth Stamatina Fey is known professionally as Tina Fey.

Walter Bruce Willis just doesn’t sound like an action star’s moniker, does it? Good thing Bruce Willis had the foresight to shorten his name!

Demetria Gene Guynes got her stage name — Demi Moore — from her first husband, Freddy Moore.

Hannah Dakota Fanning goes by her middle name professionally.

“Heather Renée Sweet” just wouldn’t cut it in the burlesque world, so this beauty adopted a more appropriate alias: Dita Von Teese.

Enrique Martín Morales shortened his name to Ricky Martin and has been “Livin La Vida Loca” ever since.

Before she was one of the biggest names in modeling, Christie Brinkley was known as Christie Lee Hudson.

Stevie Wonder was born Stevland Hardaway Judkins. His mother eventually change his last name to Morris, the legal last name he still uses today.

Faith Hill was born Audrey Faith Perry. She still goes by the last name of her first husband, Daniel Hill, professionally. We wonder how Tim McGraw feels about that?!

Amanda Lee Rogers doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Portia de Rossi!

Caryn Elaine Johnson owes her stage name — Whoopi Goldberg — to the fact that she’s “a farter” and to Whoopee Cushions. “You know, when you work in the theater sometimes, you do quick changes and you’re running around and, sometimes you’re just letting go,” the comedy star explained during an appearance on “Watch What Happens Live.” “And it became, that was the joke: Whoopi.” As for Goldberg, well, according to Time magazine, “Whoopi’s mother thought that a Jewish surname would get her further in Hollywood, so she replaced Johnson with Goldberg.”

Born to a Spanish father, Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez changed his name to Martin Sheen to help him get acting roles.

Carlos Irwin Estévez adopted dad Martin Sheen’s stage name and became Charlie Sheen.

Eilleen Regina Edwards reportedly adopted an Ojibwa name, Shania Twain, to honor her stepfather, Jerry Twain, a member of the Ojibwa tribe.

Tina Turner is one of the biggest names in music. Anna Mae Bullock certainly isn’t! The iconic singer got her last name from husband Ike Turner, who chose her first name because it rhymed with Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. The comic book character was reportedly an inspiration for Tina’s stage persona.

Another iconic music star who changed her name for her man? Pat Benatar. She was born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski. Benatar was her first husband’s last name.

Before he was a “Rocket Man,” Elton John was Reginald Kenneth Dwight.

Michael Caine was born Maurice Micklewhite. He used Humphrey Bogart’s character in “The Caine Mutiny” as inspiration for his stage name.

“I knew that I wanted a name that sounded sort of exotic and reminded me of the seaside on the Floridian coast,” Elizabeth Woolridge Grant told MTV of her stage name. “Lana Del Rey sounded beautiful to me. I just wanted a name for the music so that I could start shaping the music towards something beautiful.”

Jodie Foster was born Alicia Christian Foster.

Before she was known as “The Body,” Elle Macpherson was known as Eleanor Nancy Gow.

Nicolas Kim Coppola changed his name to Nicolas Cage to distance himself from his famous family and to avoid the perception that nepotism played a part in his career success.

If you thought “Nicole Scherzinger” was a mouthful, check this out: The former Pussycat Doll was born Nicole Prescovia Elikolani Valiente.

Jon Stewart has faced plenty of heat over the years for changing his name from Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz. “Sometimes Leibowitz sounds ridiculous. Sometimes it rhymes with Leibo-t—,” he once said.

When Eric Banadinović became an actor, he shortened his name to Eric Bana.

Cornelius Crane Chase is known professionally by his family nickname: Chevy Chase.

Diane Keaton shares a real-life last name with one of her most famous characters, Annie Hall. The actress was born Diane Hall.

Before she was famous, Carmen Electra was known by her birth name, Tara Patrick.

“Sex and the City” alum Kim Cattrall was born Clare Woodgate in Liverpool, England.

Iconic filmmaker Spike Lee was once known by his real name, Shelton Lee.

The late Larry King was born Lawrence Harvey Zeigler. His father was Austrian, while his mother hailed from Belarus.

Born to Russian immigrant parents, Hollywood legend Natalie Wood was originally named Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko.

America’s most beloved blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe, was born Norma Jeane Mortenson.

Hollywood icon Rock Hudson was born Leroy Harold Scherer Jr.

Audrey Hepburn built an iconic career using her stage name, but the actress was originally known as Audrey Edda Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston.

Tori Amos was born Myra Ellen Amos. She reportedly adopted the name Tori after a boyfriend compared her to a Torrey pine tree.

To come up with her stage name, Mandy Moore didn’t have to stray too far. She was born Amanda Leigh Moore.

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