12 Origin Stories Behind Celebrity Names

12 Origin Stories Behind Celebrity Names

We know the one-namers like Cher, Madonna, and Prince, but there’s a lot of your basic, run-of-the-mill celebrity names that you might’ve never known were “stage names” or “aliases” or whatever you want to call them. Lookin’ at you, Katy Perry. In her defense, she had a pretty good reason for opting out of her birth name. Surprise, surprise, Legend isn’t John’s real last name, and Diesel isn’t Vin’s. Come to think of it, his first name isn’t Vin either. “Diesel” must’ve helped him land all those car movies though.

Maybe they thought that their given name didn’t quite match their grandiose visions of success. They tried to mentally copy and paste their name from their birth certificate to a movie’s marquee, and it was just falling flat. Or maybe they had a curse word in their last name, and they spared us all from walking around with that word next to our shirt’s little polo player emblem. See what we did there? And whether they wanted us to find out or not, here are 12 quirky little origin stories behind celebrity names. 

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Issur was thinking about his name in lights.

CRACKED Kirk Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch. Не said that he changed his name because his given name was too unwieldy and too Jewish for Hollywood at the time. I wish I had kept it, but can you imagine that name on a marquee?

People / People 

Legend as a real last name would indeed be legendary.

CRACKED Legend was a childhood nickname for John Roger Stephens. Не said John Legend is a nickname that some friends started calling me, and it kind of grew into my stage name. It grew to the point where more people in my circle would know me more by that name than by my real name.

MTV / The Knot 

Fast X, starring Mark Sinclair!

CRACKED Vin Diesel: action hero! Mark Sinclair: Accountant! Mark Sinclair shortened his mother's maiden name Vincent to get his new first name. As for Diesel, he said that he got the nickname from friends who said that he was always so full of energy. IIII DESE DODSH

Youtube / CNN 

Polo is the shit!

CRACKED Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz. Не said, My given name has the word sh*t in it. When I was a kid, the other kids would make a lot of fun of me, that's why I decided to change it. I was 16, and it was years before I became a designer.

Oprah / WWD 

We’ll, what do you people want me to be?

CRACKED Adam Richard Wiles chose Calvin Harris for ambiguity. Не said, My first single was more of a soul track, and I thought Calvin Harris sounded a bit more racially ambiguous. I thought people might not know if I was black or not. After that, I was stuck with it.

Esquire / Billboard 

The many names of Jacob Cohen.

CRACKED The name Rodney Dangerfield saved Jack Roy's career. Born Jacob Cohen, he went by Jack Roy to emulate his vaudevillian dad Phil Roy. Because Jack Roy was getting boos, a club owner introduced him as Rodney Dangerfield (after a Jack Benny character) to deter the jeers. It stuck.

JTA / Grunge 

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