17 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names Before They Got Famous


9. David Bowie


Birth Name: David Robert Jones

Reason for Change: David Bowie started his career with his name, but because of some confusion among fans, he needed to change it. People started to mix him up with the Monkees Davy Jones. He adopted the name David Bowie in honor of Jim Bowie.


10. Elton John


Birth Name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight

Reason for Change: Six months after Elton John began his professional partnership with Bernie Taupin, he changed his name. He picked Elton to honor saxophonist Elton Dean and John for vocalist Long John Barry.


11. Fred Astaire


Birth Name: Frederick Austerlitz

Reason for Change: Fred Astaire’s mother is actually the person who suggested he change his name. When Fred and his sister Adele began to show their talents for dance, their mother Johanna suggested the last name, Astaire, as she felt Austerlitz was too reminiscent of the name in battle.

12. Sigourney Weaver


Birth Name: Susan Weaver

Reason for Change: When picking her stage name, Sigourney Weaver decided to ditch Susan and instead went with Sigourney. She picked the name based on Sigourney Howard in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

13. Kirk Douglas


Birth Name: Issur Danielovitch

Reason for Change: Even though Kirk Douglas’s name was Issur Danielovitch, he actually went by Izzy Demsky. Before entering the United States Navy for WWII, he changed his name to Kirk Douglas. His son Michael Douglas also has the same stage name!


14. Rita Hayworth


Birth Name: Margarita Cansino

Reason for Change: When Rita Hayworth began performing, she was part of the Dancing Cansinos. She shortened her first name from Margarita down to Rita. When she later signed with Columbia Pictures, studio boss Harry Cohn suggested changing her last name, as Cansino would limit her to “exotic” roles. She then adopted her mother’s maiden name, Hayworth, as her last name.

15. Martin Sheen


Birth Name: Ramon Antonio Gerardo Estevez

Reason for Change: Martin Sheen actually now regrets changing his name, but at the time, he picked Martin after CBS casting director, Robert Dale Martin, who gave him his first big break. He picked Sheen after televangelist archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, as Martin grew up with a strong Catholic background. He felt that with his birth name, he lost out on acting roles and many other opportunities. He deeply regrets making the change, because he knew it upset his father. While Charlie Sheen kept the stage name, his brother, Emilio Estevez, kept his birth name and managed to honor his grandfather by becoming famous with his given name.

16. Gene Simmons


Birth Name: Chaim Witz

Reason for Change: When he entered the United States, Gene Simmons first adopted the more “American sounding” Gene Klein, based on his mother’s maiden name. However, that didn’t really fit for KISS, so he changed it to Gene Simmons.

17. John Wayne


Birth Name: Marion Morrison

Reason for Change: John Wayne’s original nickname was Little Duke when he was a kid. His friends still called him that as he began his career, but he chose to go become John Wayne, a name inspired by Revolutionary War general Anthony Wayne.

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