Celebrities don’t always go by their birth names once they become big stars. A long or obscure first or last name might not seem appealing to that agent you want to sign you or to that director whose film you want to star in, so you change your name to something more manageable. Your friends you grew up with might still know you by your birth name, but heaven forbid anyone in Hollywood find out your real name. Well, the birth names of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars have leaked out over the years and some of them are real doozies! Plus, some of you will be shocked that your favorite celebrity’s name isn’t really his or her birth name. From slight changes to massive overhauls, here are some heavy hitting celebs who changed their names for the sake of their careers. You be the judge, were they right to do so?
10. Kirk Douglas
Birth Name: Issur Danielovich
This legendary New York-born film/stage actor, producer, director grew up as Izzy Demsky and legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas before entering the Navy during World War II.
9. Carmen Electra
Birth Name: Tara Leigh Patrick
Patrick began as a dancer at an amusement park in her home state of Ohio. In 1991, she moved to California and met Prince. Soon after, Electra signed a recording contract with Prince’s Paisley Park Records and began a short-lived singing career. During her time at Paisley Park Records, she officially became known as Carmen Electra.
8. Cary Grant
Birth Name: Archibald Alec Leach
Though he performed on stage in England using his birth name, Grant must have known that his birth name wasn’t going to go over well in Hollywood so when he became a naturalized US citizen in 1942, he had his name legally changed.
7. Michael Caine
Birth Name: Maurice Joseph Micklewhite
What a mouth full! This Englishman chose to change his name to something a little simpler and given his incredible performances in films like 1988 Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 1999’s The Cider House Rules and most recently 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, Hollywood is thankful that he did.
6. Cee Lo Green
Birth Name: Thomas DeCarlo Callaway
In the music industry, you have to stand out to be noticed. Not that his talent wouldn’t have accomplished that but this ex judge on the NBC singing competition show The Voice still felt he needed a bit more zip and felt his birth name wouldn’t do it. Well, Cee Lo. Mission Accomplished!
5. Ashton Kutcher
Birth Name: Christopher Ashton Kutcher
I guess this star of CBS’ hit comedy Two and a Half Men thought there were enough actors named ‘Christopher’ there so he decided to make his middle name his first. Not an uncommon thing to do in Hollywood.
4. Portia De Rossi
Birth Name: Amanda Lee Rogers
This ex Ally McBeal star and talk show Ellen DeGeneres’ other half hasn’t done much since the FOX show wrapped in 2002, but given her model-like looks and statuesque demeanor, she needed a jazzier name and IMO, she picked the perfect one!
3. Bob Dylan
Birth Name: Robert Allen Zimmerman
This Minnesota-born crooner has gone back and forth from embracing his Jewish roots to denouncing them and now back again. During his days touring the folk music circuit, he began introducing himself as ‘Bob Dylan.’ In his memoir, Dylan mentions being influenced by the poetry of Dylan Thomas, which explains where he got his new last name from.
2. Jennifer Aniston
Birth Name: Jennifer Linn Anastassakis
Since Friends, which wrapped in 2004, Aniston has made a successful film career. Daughter of John Aniston, longtime cast member of the NBC daytime drama Days of our Lives, with a long last name like that, pronunciation was the least of her worries. So, she and her father took the root of their last name, sort of, and the rest is history!
1. Whoopi Goldberg
Birth Name: Caryn Elaine Johnson
This renowned comedian/Academy Award winning actress an dco-host of ABC’s The View, took her stage name from a whoopee cushion. She has stated that “If you get a little gassy, you’ve got to let it go. So people used to say to me, ‘You’re like a whoopee cushion.’ And that’s where the name came from.’”