14 Celebrities Who Changed Their Real Names and the Reason Behind Why

year ago

Even though the private lives of celebrities are pretty much public, there’s a lot we still don’t know, like their names and the meanings behind them. We’re all familiar with celebrities who changed their names, and this is not unusual in Hollywood. Some of them use their childhood nicknames that their parents gave to them, others just tend to look for a better stage name.

Here at Bright Side, we’ve put together a list of celebrities who changed their names and the meaning behind them.

1. Charlie Sheen — Carlos Irwin Estevez

Vianney Le Caer / Invision / AP / East News

Charlie’s decision to change his name from Carlos to Charlie was simply to avoid the confusion between him and his uncle, who is also named Carlos. At the beginning of his acting career, he also decided to follow in his father’s footsteps by taking on his last name, Sheen.

2. Miley Cyrus — Destiny Hope Cyrus

Miley Cyrus legally changed her name back in 2008 from Destiny Hope Cyrus to Miley Cyrus. The name Miley is a rendition of her childhood nickname “Smiley” in honor of her paternal grandfather.

3. Bruno Mars — Peter Gene Hernandez

Born Peter Gene Hernandez, he renamed himself, according to what he told Latina magazine.

“My dad nicknamed me Bruno since I was 2 years old. I was going to go by ’Bruno,’ one name. Mars just kind of came joking around because that sounds bigger than life. That was it, simple as that.”

4. Michael Keaton — Michael John Douglas


Name changes are regular things in Hollywood, but as surprising it might seem at first, Michael Keaton didn’t change his name for the reason you might think — he was forced to change his name in order to enter the actor’s union since his original birth name was already taken by another future Academy Award nominee.

5. Demi Moore — Demetria Gene Guynes

There’s a saying, sometimes less is Moore! She was born with the name Demetria Gene Guynes, she later on shortened her first name to Demi. The star’s last name is a holdover from her first marriage, which comes from the famous singer Freddy Moore.

6. Jessie J — Jessica Ellen Cornish

Joe Sutter / PacificCoastNews / BWP Media / East News

You might be wondering what the J stands for in Jessie J’s name, well, her real name is Jessica Ellen Cornish. Basically, the J in her name stands for different things, which depend on the day and her mood. But there are certain things known, her favorite nicknames are, “Jessie Jazz-hands” and “Jessie Jetlag.”

7. Elsa Pataky — Elsa Lafuente Medianu

Elsa Pataky is a Spanish model and actress known for her role as Elena Neves in the Fast & Furious franchise. Her full name is Elsa Lafuente Medianu, but she uses the surname Pataky in homage to her maternal grandmother: Rosa Pataky.

8. Wiz Khalifa — Cameron Jibril Thomaz

PacificCoastNews / East News

Wiz Khalifa’s family already knew that their kid was born to succeed, inspired by his uncle’s name, which means “knowledge” in Arabic, the rapper was born Cameron Jibril Thomaz but named himself Wisdom. His uncle then added Khalifa, which is also Arabic, and it means “successor.” He later shortened his name to Wiz when he was 15 years old because his friends called him young Wiz all the time since he was “good at everything.”

9. Gene Simmons — Chaim Witz

0000554 / Reporter / East News

Gene Simmons was born in Israel in 1949, and emigrated to the United States with his mother at the age of 8. After arriving in New York, he took on his mother’s maiden name and became Eugene Klein. In the early 1970s, he changed his name again to Gene Simmons.

10. Lorde — Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor

ROBYN BECK / AFP / East News

Lorde changed her original name at the age of 12 when she was signed to a development contract with the Universal Music Group after an agent of theirs saw footage of her singing at a middle school talent show. The royalty hidden in the name Lord encouraged her in changing her original name, but she also added an “e” because she felt that Lord would be too masculine for a girl.

11. Larry King — Lawrence Zeiger

East News

Larry King was born as Lawrance Harvey Zeiger in Brooklyn, New York. The decision to change his name happened in the blink of an eye. King was told only minutes before his first ever live broadcast that his name was “too ethnic” by the radio station manager. He had to make a very fast decision there, when his manager spotted an ad for a local Miami business called King’s Wholesale, he immediately liked it, and he adopted “King” as his new last name.

12. Frank Ocean — Christopher Edwin Breaux

LFI / Photoshot / REPORTER / East News

Frank Ocean is an American singer, songwriter, and rapper whose stage name comes from a combination of Frank Sinatra’s first name and the 1960s film Ocean’s 11, which Sinatra starred in.

13. Ludacris — Christopher Brian Bridges

Derek Storm / Everett Collection / East News

Christopher Brian Bridges is known professionally as Ludacris. When speaking with MTV’s hip hop show Direct Effect in 2000, Ludacris explained his name was a play on the word “ludicrous” which he took on as his stage name.

14. Marilyn Monroe — Norma Jean Mortenson

Charles K Feldman Group / Collection Christophel / East News

Marilyn changed her name in order to have a better-sounding stage name, she legally changed it from Norma Jean Mortenson to Marilyn Monroe back in 1956. She changed it because the studio executive Ben Lyon suggested that she go with something that sounds better. That’s how the name of Marilyn Monroe was born.

What was your nickname as a kid? What do you think of using childhood nicknames as adults?

Preview photo credit Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection / East News, Vianney Le Caer / Invision / AP / East News


Get notifications
Lucky you! This thread is empty,
which means you've got dibs on the first comment.
Go for it!

Related Reads