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Stage Names

You always see lists of celebrities’ real names and, yes, we’re going to get a list together right now. Before we do, however, let’s talk about the reasons why people take “stage names” when they go into show business. The top reason has to be because the name they were born with just doesn’t have star appeal.

The most well-known example of that is actor Cary Grant. His real name was Archibald Leach. When Paramount wanted to sign him to a contract in the early 1930s, its general manager, B.P. Schulman, asked Archie Leach to change his name to something that sounded like Gary Cooper. Actress, Fay Wray, had just worked with Archie in a play called “Nikki.” She suggested that he use his character’s name, Cary Lockwood. Schulberg loved the Cary part because it rhymed with Gary. Lockwood was out because they already had an actor with that surname. He gave the newly christened Cary a list of last names and the rest is history. Grant legally changed his name in 1942.

Gary Cooper, by the way, was born Frank James Cooper. So he only changed his first name. Brian Austin Green wasn’t born with a middle name. His parents added Austin when he was 9 years old and about to embark on his acting career, “because there was another Brian Green in the Screen Actors Guild.”

More stage names, not including anyone who just dropped their first name (like Bruce Willis); or just dropped their last name (like Jonah Hill and Madonna); or both (like Rihanna); or goes by a nickname (like Tom Cruise and Nelly):

50 Cent – Curtis James Jackson III
Avicii – Tim Bergling
Betty Who – Jessica Anne Newham
Bruno Mars – Peter Gene Hernandez
Calvin Harris – Adam Richard Wiles
Carmen Electra – Tara Leigh Patrick
Carrot Top – Scott Thompson
Cee Lo Green – Thomas DeCarlo Callaway
Common – Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.
Elton John – Reginald Kenneth Dwight
Faith Hill – Audrey Faith Perry
Flo Rida – Tramar Lacel Dillard
Freddie Mercury – Farrokh Bulsara
Helen Mirren – Ilyena Lydia Mironoff
Ice-T – Tracy Lauren Marrow
Iggy Azalea – Amethyst Amelia Kelly
Jamie Foxx – Eric Marlon Bishop
Jay Z – Shawn Corey Carter
Lady Gaga – Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
Lana Del Rey – Elizabeth Woolridge Grant
Lorde – Ella Yelich-O’Connor
Macklemore – Ben Haggerty
Ne-Yo – Shaffer Chimere Smith
Pitbull – Armando Christian Pérez
Portia de Rossi – Amanda Lee Rogers
Queen Latifah – Dana Elaine Owens
Shania Twain – Eilleen Regina Edwards
Snoop Dogg – Calvin Cordozar Broadus
Vin Diesel – Mark Sinclair Vincent
Whoopi Goldberg, born Caryn Elaine Johnson

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