Our names are part of our identities. Many people hide behind their name when they aren’t feeling confident, or they wear their name as a badge of honor. The great thing about names is that you can change them!
Many celebrities change their name for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don’t like their name (sorry, mom and dad), maybe they don’t think their name is original enough, or maybe they were told to change their name.
Below, check out some well-known celebrities who changed their names!
1. Iggy Pop
Birth Name: James Newell Osterberg Jr.
Reason for Change: Iggy was his childhood nickname, so he chose to adopt it for his stage name. At first, he went by Iggy Osterberg, then changed it to Iggy Stooge. When his friend, Jimmy Pop, lost all of his hair due to cancer, Iggy shaved off his eyebrows in solidarity. Then, Iggy Pop was born.
2. Freddie Mercury
Birth Name: Farrokh Bulsara
Reason for Change: Just when Queen formed and was on their track to getting big, he was going by Freddie Bulsara, then he changed his name to Freddie Mercury. When he was a little boy, his nickname was Freddie. He chose the last name Mercury because of the many meanings behind the word.
3. Audrey Hepburn
Birth Name: Audrey Kathleen Ruston
Reason for Change: After WWII, Audrey’s father found documents that stated their ancestors had the last name Hepburn, so he adjusted his last name. Audrey did the same after her father. For her stage name, she then shortened it.
4. Stevie Wonder
Birth Name: Stevland Hardaway Judkins
Reason for Change: Stevie Wonder’s nickname comes from the immense talent he showed at a young age. He learned how to play multiple instruments, despite his blindness. Motown producer Clarence Paul gave him the nickname Little Stevie Wonder. Before releasing his hit 1966 song, “Uptown,” he dropped the Little.
5. Diane Keaton
Birth Name: Diane Hall
Reason for Change: There was already another Diane Hall in the Actor’s Equity, so she adopted her mother’s maiden name when creating her stage name. Ironically enough, after changing her name, Diane starred in Annie Hall.
Birth Name: Cherilyn Sarkisian
Reason for Change: When Cher first came into the spotlight, she was part of Sonny & Cher, but she was not going just by Cher at the time. In fact, she was going by Cherilyn Sarkisian La Piere Bono Allman. She shortened it to Cher in 1977 to forgo using all of her surnames.
7. Cary Grant
Birth Name: Archibald Alexander Leach
Reason for Change: In order to make it in Hollywood, Cary Grant was forced to change his name. When he signed a contract with Paramount Pictures, the founder demanded he pick something that sounded more American, “like Gary Cooper.” They eventually settled on Cary Grant.
Birth Name: Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner
Reason for Change: Sting’s stage name actually came from a nickname! It flows a lot better than his full name too. Sting used to wear a yellow and black striped sweater, so he started getting called Sting because people thought he looked like a wasp.
Click through to the next page to find out which other celebrities changed their names!