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40 Celebrities with Stage Names

Jane Seymour

Born: Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg 

Jane Seymour’s real name is a mouthful, right? She changed it when she was 17 because “it scanned nicely and rolled trippingly from the tongue.” Maybe because it was the name of a former, short-reigning English Queen. Whatever the reason, it was a good change! 

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Natalie Portman

Born: Neta-Lee Hershlag

Natalie was born in Israel and given a traditional Hebrew name. Upon immigrating to the United States in 1984, the family changed the surname to Portman, the actress’s maternal grandmother’s name, and then Neta-Lee naturally became Natalie. 

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Gene Simmons

Born: Chaim Witz

Born in Israel, Chaim Witz went through two name changes. The first was when he arrived in New York. His mother wanted his name to sound more American, so he changed it to Eugene Klein, the surname being his mother’s maiden name. After college, he chose to use the stage name “Gene Simmons” as a tribute to Jumpin’ Gene Simmons, a rockabilly singer in the ’50s.

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Alicia Keys

Born: Alicia Augello Cook

If it weren't for Alicia Keys's mother, she might have a totally different stage name. When Keys was trying to choose her professional name, she went through a dictionary and stopped on the word "wild." Yes, she wanted to go by "Alicia Wild." Her mom told her it sounded like a stripper and helped her choose Alicia Keys instead. The name "Keys" reflects her musical talent. 

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Steven Tyler

Born: Steven Tallarico

Steven Tyler wasn’t always known by this stage name. Mr. Steven Tallarico was once in a band named Chain Reaction, and he changed his name to be Steven Tally. It was easier for the fans to remember. After Chain Reaction dissolved, Steven Tyler made two big changes. First, he formed Aerosmith. Second, he became Steven Tyler.

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Bruno Mars

Born: Peter Gene Hernandez

Bruno Mars explained in an interview with GQ that he has been called "Bruno" nearly his entire life because he was a chubby baby. He adopted the surname Mars when he finally realized that the name “Bruno Hernandez” just wasn’t going to cut it in the music world.

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Meg Ryan

Born: Margaret Hyra

Meg isn’t a huge jump from “Margaret,” but Hyra? Pretty different from “Ryan.” Well, Ryan is more of a family name. She changed it to pay homage to her maternal grandmother by using her maiden name. She felt it had a nice ring to it, and it was certainly easier to remember than Margaret Hyra. 

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Calvin Harris

Born: Adam Richard Wiles

Remember when Taylor Swift gave her former boyfriend a shout-out at the iHeart Radio Music Awards? Yeah, probably not. Because she referred to him as “Adam.” Calvin Harris adopted his stage name in an attempt to be more “racially ambiguous.” 

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Elvis Costello

Born: Declan Patrick McManus

Declan McManus changed his name to Elvis Costello after he signed his first recording contract. His manager suggested that he borrowed “Elvis” from Elvis Presley, which was a particularly smart marketing move at the time. “Costello” actually came from his father’s stage name, Day Costello, who released albums in the ’60s and ’70s. 

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Emma Stone

Born: Emily Jean Stone

Emma rebranded herself when she was 16 years old because there was already an Emily Stone in Hollywood. Originally, the actress tried to go by “Riley Stone”, but it just didn’t stick.

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Martin Sheen

Born: Ramon Gerard Estevez

Martin Sheen never legally changed his name from Ramon Estevez, and he states that he’s very proud of his heritage. Sheen stated in an interview that he went by “Martin Sheen” because there was a huge prejudice against the Hispanic community. So, he tried out “Martin,” from Robert Dale Martin (a CBS casting director) and “Sheen” Fulton J. Sheen, the auxiliary bishop of New York. Apparently, it worked for him. 

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Shania Twain

Born: Eilleen Regina Edwards

This one is a name change plus a stage name. When the singer was younger, she took the surname of her stepfather, Jerry Twain. By the age of eight, it was clear she had an exceptional singing voice. When she began her career, she changed her name to Shania, which was a nod to her stepfather’s Ojibwa heritage. It meant, “I’m on my way.”

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Kit Harington

Born: Christopher Catesby Harington 

The Game of Thrones star revealed that his parents didn’t tell him his real name was actually Christopher until he was 11 years old. He has gone by Kit since birth.

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Sophia Loren

Born: Sofia Villani Scicolone

This Italian beauty changed her name when she began working in the cinema. Initially, she decided to go with Sofia Lazzaro, but it didn’t last long. After her first film, she began learning under Carlo Ponti (her future husband), who convinced her to change her name to use “Sophia Loren.”

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Demi Moore

Born: Deme Gene Guynes

Most people don’t know that Demi Moore married rock musician Freddy Moore when she was only 17 years old. The marriage only lasted four years, but the actress decided to keep his surname as her stage name. 

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Audrey Hepburn

Born: Audrey Kathleen Ruston

Audrey’s name is less of a stage name and more of a family history. Even though she was born Audrey Ruston, her father found documents that their ancestors had the surname “Hepburn.” After her father changed his name to be “Hepburn-Ruston,” Audrey followed. It also helped that Hepburn was already famous through Katherine Hepburn, even though the two share no relation. 

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Elton John

Born: Reginald Kenneth Dwight

The legendary Elton John bid goodbye to his birth name of Reginald Kenneth Dwight in 1972. He changed his name to honor blues legends Elton Dean and Long John Baldry. 

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Whoopi Goldberg

Born: Caryn Elaine Johnson

Caryn Elaine Johnson, better known as Whoopi Goldberg, revealed that she got her stage name by acting like a whoopee cushion when she first started out. 

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Reese Witherspoon

Born: Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon

Early in her career, she decided to go by her mother’s maiden name, Reese. She thought it sounded much more "Hollywood" than Laura.

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Tina Turner

Born: Anna Mae Bullock

Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock and remained so until she met Ike Turner. According to an interview with Tina herself, she stated Ike forced her to change her name to Tina so that he could own all of her music properties if she left him. Ike proposed to Tina in 1962, and she accepted because she was afraid to reject him. This made her “Tina Turner.”

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Frank Ocean

Born: Christopher Edwin Breaux

The musician was born Christopher Edwin Breaux, but he didn’t feel like it was “cool” enough. In 2010 he changed his legal name to Christopher Francis Ocean, but goes by Frank Ocean. 

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Tom Cruise

Born: Thomas Cruise Mapother IV

Thomas Cruise Mapother IV doesn't exactly scream Hollywood, does it? Tom's agent recommended that he change his name early in his career if he was serious about making it in the industry. He dropped his surname (and the Roman numerals) and shortened his first name to Tom. 

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Cardi B

Born: Belcalis Almanzar.

Although we know her has Cardi B, this wasn’t her given name at birth. Her sister’s name is Hennessy, so growing up people called her Bacardi, which was shortened to Cardi B as she got older.

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Vin Diesel

Born: Mark Sinclair Vincent

Vin Diesel changed his name while working as a bouncer at a nightclub in New York. His friends called him Diesel because they said he ran on “diesel” fuel. Vin is a shortened version of his last name. 

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Gigi Hadid

Born: Jelena Noura Hadid

True fans know that Gigi Hadid uses a pseudonym. Her close family started calling her Gigi in her early years and eventually it naturally turned into her stage name.

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Halsey

Born: Ashley Nicolette Frangipane

Many fans believe she chose "Halsey" for her stage name because it’s an anagram of her first name. But that’s not true. The singer lived off of Halsey Street in Brooklyn and had always liked the name. 

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Tiger Woods

Born: Eldrick Tont Woods

Tiger Woods has been known as “Tiger” for so long that most people don’t realize that it’s not his real name. Woods's father began calling him Tiger when he was very young after his good friend Col. Phong, whose nickname was Tiger. 

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Jamie Foxx

Born: Eric Marlon Bishop 

Foxx changed his name to Jamie Foxx when he first started doing standup comedy. He was going for a more unisex name to try and get more stage time – girls were more likely to get a spot than the guys.

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Jay-Z

Born: Shawn Corey Carter

Jay-Z picked up his stage name came from his childhood nickname, Jazzy.

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John Legend

Born: John Roger Stephens

John Legend earned the nickname "Legend" from some friends early on in his career. More people started to know him as John Legend versus his real name, so naturally it became his stage name when the time came. 

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Lady Gaga

Born: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta

No, the future pop star was not born with the name Lady Gaga. The story behind Lady Gaga’s stage name all started with an autocorrected text message. Music producer, Rob Fusari, would always sing “Radio Ga Ga” when she would enter the studio. One day she and Rob were texting, and his phone autocorrected it to Lady Gaga. 

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Carmen Electra

Born: Tara Leigh Patrick

Carmen Electra's birth name was far less glamorous than her elected stage name. She changed her name to Carmen Electra after Prince suggested it back in 1991.

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Iggy Azalea

Born: Amethyst Amelia Kelly

The Australian rapper used to go by her birth name, Amethyst. Early in her career, she decided she needed a name that would be remembered. To get her stage name, she took her first pet’s name and the street name she lived on at the time and got: Iggy Azalea. 

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Lana Del Rey

Born: Elizabeth Wooldridge Grant

Elizabeth went by Lizzy until she was 25 years old. Then she developed her alter ego, Lana Del Rey, on a trip to Miami with her sister. She realized she wanted an exotic name that reminds her of the Florida coast.

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Lizzo

Born: Melissa Viviane Jefferson

When Melissa was 14 years old, she and two friends formed a rap group called Cornrow Clique. She was going to go by Lissa (taken from her real name, Melissa). However, the song “Izzo” by Jay-Z was one of her favorite songs at the times and she was inspired to change her name to Lizzo. She hasn’t looked back ever since she made that decision. 

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Lorde

Born: Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor

Lorde is solely a stage name – she prefers to be called Ella. She chose the name Lorde as her alias name because she wanted a one-word, strong name. She definitely accomplished that! 

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Marilyn Manson

Born: Brian Hugh Warner

Some think Marilyn Manson might have the most infamous stage name in Hollywood. The vocalist came up with the stage name Marilyn Manson in 1989. His stage name comes from the two huge pop culture figures: Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson. 

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Miley Cyrus

Born: Destiny Hope Cyrus

Miley Cyrus legally changed her name in 2008. Cyrus’s nickname was “smiley” growing up because she smiled so much. Smiley eventually shortened into Miley, and when she started getting into acting it turned into her stage name.

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Portia de Rossi

Born: Amanda Lee Rogers

Portia legally changed her name to Portia de Rossi when she was 15 years old. Portia came from her intense love of Shakespeare (Portia is a character in The Merchant of Venice). She went with “de Rossi” because she wanted an exotic Italian name.  

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Snoop Dogg

Born: Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr.

You mean Snoop Dogg’s real name isn’t Snoop Dogg? Shocking! He was born as Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr. and gained the nickname Snoopy as a small child because his mother thought he looked like Snoopy from the Peanuts cartoon. Later on, the rapper began to refer to himself as Snoop Dogg, and the rest is history.

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