It isn’t as common these days, but back in the early years of showbiz, it was pretty normal for aspiring young actors and actresses to change their names. Stage names often seemed flashier and fancier than regular names, giving the individual a bigger chance of becoming a star. Here are 19 celebrities who used a fake name to attain their fame.
1. Natalie Wood
Wood was born to a Russian family, giving her the original name of Natasha Nikolaevna Zakharenko.
2. Michael Caine
Michael Caine’s real name is Maurice Micklewhite, which, if you ask us, is already pretty badass! Apparently, Caine decided on his new moniker when he saw a poster for the Humphrey Bogart film, ‘The Caine Mutiny’.
3. Bea Arthur
The star of ‘Golden Girls’ is actually called Bernice Frankel.
4. Rock Hudson
Born Leroy Harold Scherer Jr., we think Rock Hudson is about a million times cooler.
5. Doris Day
Day was originally born Doris Kappelhoff. Her German-sounding surname might have been frowned upon, so she decided to switch to something cheerier.
6. Joan Crawford
Born with the decidedly French name of Lucille LeSueur, Joan switched to something much more American.
7. Kirk Douglas
This one might surprise you. Kirk was originally called Issur Danielovitch Demsky.
8. Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn is such an iconic name. But she was actually born with the ludicrously long moniker of Edda Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston. Not quite as catchy!
9. Judy Garland
Garland’s birth name is Frances Gumm. A songwriter named George Jessel once said that she and her sisters “looked prettier than a garland of flowers”, and this statement helped the young singer choose a stage name.
10. Fred Astaire
Frederick Austerlitz is another example of someone with a German-sounding name making a switch to something more American.
11. Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers was originally called Virginia Katherine McMath.
12. Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder is the perfect name for this man, but he was originally known as Stevland Hardaway Judkins.
13. Cary Grant
Rated as one of the finest actors of all time, Grant was originally called Archibald Alexander Leach, but studio executives wanted something shorter and snappier to stick in people’s minds.
14. Dusty Springfield
This famous singer was first known under the name Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien. She actually got the nickname of ‘Dusty’ when she was a young girl, playing out on the streets.
15. Harry Houdini
It’s impossible to imagine this magician under any other name, but he was originally called Erik Weisz. His stage name is actually formed from the names of two other illusionists: Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin and Harry Kellar.
16. George Burns
Burns was originally called Nathan Birnbaum. He was inspired to make his stage name by baseballs players George H. Burns and George J. Burns.
17. Rita Hayworth
Margarita Cansino took her mom’s maiden name to help create her stage name.
18. Dean Martin
Believe it or not, the legendary Dean Martin was originally called Dino Crocetti.
19. Tony Curtis
Once again, we have a German-inspired name here. Tony Curtis was originally called Bernard Schwartz.
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