Why Do Aspiring Movie Or Stage Stars Change Their Names?

Why Do Aspiring Movie Or Stage Stars Change Their Names?

Nov 01
Why Do Aspiring Movie Or Stage Stars Change Their Names?

People aspiring to become movie or stage stars often change their names. They do this for many reasons. Some change their names to make the name easier to say, more memorable, or less ethnic.  Others do it to change their image or to connect with a new audience. Still, others believe that a different name will bring them better luck.

There are many famous examples of people who have changed their names and gone on to great success in the entertainment industry.  Changing one’s name can be a powerful way to reinvent oneself and start fresh with a new identity. For many aspiring entertainers, it’s an essential step on the road to stardom.

Next, we cover some famous folks who have changed their names.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. He started going by the name Bob Dylan in 1960 when he began performing folk music in Greenwich Village, New York City. He has said that he changed his name because he wanted a name that sounded more like a preacher or a wrestler than a folk singer.

George Clooney

George Clooney was born George Gucciardo in 1961 in Lexington, Kentucky. He started using his mother’s maiden name, Clooney, when he became an actor. He has said that he changed his last name to make it sound less ethnic and more approachable for Hollywood casting directors.

The Sheen-Estevez Family

Martin Sheen changed his name from Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez. His children split between the Estevez name and the Sheen name, with Charlie sticking with Sheen and Emilio, Renee, and Ramon reverting back to Estevez.

Edward G. Robinson

Edward Robinson

Emanual Goldenberg achieved film stardom as Edward G. Robinson. Sometimes an actor is going for an image rather than reduced ethnicity.

The Marx Brothers

Julius, Adolph, Leonard, Milton, and Herbert Marx are much better known as Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Gummo, and Zeppo Marx.

Marx Brothers

Audrey Hepburn

Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston was known as Audrey Hepburn.   Occasionally, people combine or hyphenate names to keep some connection with their family name or heritage.

John Wayne

Marion Robert Morrison became John Wayne, one of the most famous Western movie stars ever. Sometimes an actor will choose a name that sounds more like the image they want to project.

Cary Grant

Archibald Alexander Leach took on the persona of Cary Grant and became one of the biggest stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Many times, actors change their names to sound more glamorous or prestigious, as was likely the case with Grant.

But what do you do if you come to Hollywood intent on achieving film stardom, but someone is already using your name?  Think about it, your name is a surefire winner, and you have to change it.  This is what happened to James Lablanche Stewart, or Jimmy Stewart, if you will.

James Stewart

Most people know Jimmy Stewart, the soft-spoken and shy actor with the very recognizable drawl in his voice who starred in so many classics, including several of my favorites, It’s a Wonderful Life, How the West Was Won, Rear Window, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.  Of course, that description is for James Maitland Stewart.

So James Lablanche Stewart changed his name to Stewart Granger, but he remained Jimmy to his friends for the rest of his life.

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