It’s common knowledge within the industry that some stars choose to change their name before they get their big break.
Sometimes, celebrities’ real names are already being used by another person in the industry, or, on occasion, they want a moniker that sounds snappier, or simply a little more extraordinary, and so decide to switch it up.
But whatever the reason for the change, it’s the name they select that we come to know them by – and it can be quite a shock when you find out the title that their parents actually chose for them!
How many of these did you already know?
We can’t believe our ears – Gino isn’t Gino D’Acampo’s actual name! When he was born in 1976, his parents Alba and Ciro named him Gennaro D’Acampo, for which Gino is a shortened nickname.
Prince Harry’s girlfriend, actress, Meghan Markle isn’t actually a Meghan – she’s Rachel Meghan Markle by birth. However, the name Rachel eventually got a second lease of life in Meghan’s life, as it’s the name of her character in the TV show Suits.
Loose Women regular and mum-of-five Katie may have started her glamour modelling career with the pseudonym Jordan, but when she was born, she was named Katrina Amy Alexandra Alexis Infield. In 1988, her mother Amy married builder Paul Price, where she got her famous surname.
Well, you didn’t think she was actually named after the colour, did you? The Raise Your Glass singer’s real name is Alecia Beth Moore. There are several rumours about why she might have chosen the hue as her stage name, including her tendency to blush, and an affinity with Reservoir Dogs character Mr Pink, although she hasn’t confirmed either of these stories herself.
Anton Du Beke
Beke is Anton’s real last name, but he jazzed it up slightly by swapping his given first names, Anthony Paul Beke, for the now famous Anton Du. The Mirror reports that close friends of the Strictly judge actually call him Tony!
You’ll have seen the name Helen Mirren on billboards for years, but what you may not know is that Helen was actually born Ilynea Lydia Mironoff – the daughter of an English mother and a Russian father.
Meryl switched from the more common name Mary Louise Streep in the early days of her career. She confessed during an appearance on the Graham Norton show that she ‘haaaated’ her original moniker, explaining: ‘I had to be named Mary because my mother’s name was Mary and so on, and Louise was my mother’s best friend. But I was always called Meryl. My father made that name up and he liked that name.’
Some celebrities go for variations on their original names, but Elton picked a real wild card when he changed his name from Reginald Kenneth Dwight. It’s thought that his stage name is a combination of blues musicians Elton Dean and Long John Baldry (and apparently, his self-selected middle name is Hercules!).
Legally Blonde star Reese was born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon. Reese is actually her mother’s maiden name, which she chose to take as her first at the beginning of her career in showbiz.
Eilleen Regina Edwards is the real name of the singer behind hits like ‘Man, I Feel Like a Woman’ and ‘You’re Still the One’. Twain came from her stepfather, and she reportedly chose Shania because it’s a native Ojibwa word which means ‘on my way’.
Julianne Moore may sound like a plausible birth name, but Julianne’s actual name is even more ordinary: Julie Anne Smith. She registered her longer stage name because ‘there was already a Julie Smith, a Julie Anne Smith, there was everything’, but added: ‘it’s horrible to change your name. I’d been Julie Smith my whole life, and I didn’t want to change it.’
At the other end of the spectrum, Lady Gaga is obviously not the pop singer’s real name, but the name that is still might surprise you: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Her alter ego was coined by music producer Rob Fusari, who would sing ‘Radio Ga Ga’ to her in the studio.
Remember noughties songstress Dido? She may have gone by just one name as an artist, but that might be because she’s Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong by birth, and that’s tough to fit on an album cover!
Mark Sinclair Vincent is the name that Vin was born with. He explained during an appearance on The Late Late Show that he’d shortened his surname and turned it into his first name, and added his nickname, Diesel, because he was always full of so much energy.
We all know Whoopi as Whoopi from her Sister Act days, but before she hit the big screen, she went by Caryn Elaine Johnson. ‘People used to say to me, ‘You’re like a whoopee cushion.’ And that’s where the name came from!’ she replied when asked how she’d come up with the unusual option.
It’s been reported that Michael went from Maurice Joseph Micklewhite to his current name on the advice of an agent. He told New York magazine got Caine in 2009 that he selected his surname as a tribute to Humphrey Bogart’s character in ‘The Caine Mutiny’, adding: ‘when I was a kid I thought he was a tough guy.’
We’re so used to being Bruno, it’s hard to imagine calling him Peter Gene Hernandez! Bruno adopted his alternate moniker after his father nicknamed him after a wrestler of the same name, whilst he justifies his last name as by saying: ‘I felt like I didn’t have no pizzazz, and a lot of girls say I’m out of this world, so I was like I guess I’m from Mars’.
Billy Ray welcomed daughter Destiny Hope Cyrus in 1992, which is the name she used way before she was Hannah Montana, and then later Miley. She legally changed her name to the latter in 2015, after getting it from a childhood nickname because she was always ‘smiley’.