There are 100s of celebrities who have changed their names because they needed something easier, shorter, more exotic, less ethnic.
These are the ones whose stories I love:
Miley Cyrus – born Destiny Hope Cyrus
A happy kid, she was given the nickname “Smiley Miley.” It stuck. She officially changed her name in 2008.
Geddy Lee – born Gary Lee Weinrib
Gary had a friend who—upon hearing his mother calling his name with her heavy Polish accent—thought she was saying Geddy. His friends all started calling him Geddy, and eventually, even his mother called him Geddy on purpose. That is how the leader of Rush got his name.
Albert Brooks – born Albert Einstein
When asked about why he changed his name, his answer is simply “Do I even have to answer that?” In January 2011 he told Esquire magazine, “I was on the defensive as soon as I got to the first class where they took roll. 'Albert Einstein?' All the kids would be snickering. It's one of the three most famous names on the planet. You might as well be called Jesus Christ. Or Moses. The thing is, I liked the name Albert. I just couldn't use it with Einstein. So I changed the last name when I thought I could really accomplish something, and I didn't need that name to be funny.”
Ann Rice – born Howard Allen
In a question and answer session with fans on her website, the author answered the question about her name, “My birth name is Howard Allen because apparently my mother thought it was a good idea to name me Howard. My father's name was Howard, she wanted to name me after Howard, and she thought it was a very interesting thing to do. She was a bit of a Bohemian, a bit of mad woman, a bit of a genius, and a great deal of a great teacher. And she had the idea that naming a woman Howard was going to give that woman an unusual advantage in the world.” She became Ann when asked by a nun on the first day of school what her name was and first the first thing that came to her was Ann.
Cary Grant - born Archibald Leach
When he arrived in Hollywood from England in 1931, he changed his name to Cary Lockwood based on a character he had played on stage. Upon signing with Paramount Pictures he was told that his chosen name was too close to another actor. They gave him a list of surnames to choose from. Legend has it that he chose Grant based on what his initials would be—C.G. He thought them to be lucky given the success of Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.
Michael Caine – born Maurice Micklewhite
When choosing his stage-name he first settled on Michael because he liked the way it sounded. Rumour has it that he settled on Caine when he saw a cinema marquee for “The Caine Mutiny” and he liked the way it sounded. He has joked that had he looked in the other direction, his name might have been Michael 101 Dalmations.
Judy Garland – born Frances Ethel Gumm
She and her two sisters used to perform vaudeville shows at which they received muffled laughter from audience when their names were announced. Judy chose her name based on a song that she favoured at the time. There are several stories about how Garland came to be: the trio were hailed as being more beautiful than a “garland of flowers” or that it was chosen to flatter a drama critic, Robert Garland, hoping to receive good reviews.
Elvis Costello – born Declan Patrick MacManus
Costello was his great-grandmother’s maiden name that his father adopted as a stage name for himself. In his early career, he went by DP Costello. Upon signing his first record contract, his management team decided to drop the “DP” in favour of rock ‘n’ roll’s most famous icon. For a newly signed artist, no matter how talented, that is a lot to live up to.
Elton John – born Reginald Kenneth Dwight
Early in his music career he chose his new name by combining the names of two bandmates of first group—Bluesology—sax player Elton Dean and frontman Long John Baldry. Really, not the most dramatic story for one of the most dramatic and colourful performers in music history. It does, however, say a lot about honouring relationships that are meaningful to him.
Alicia Keyes – born Alicia Augello Cook
Undoubtedly one of the most talented R&B peformers of her genereation, she started piano lessons at the age 7, was accepted at the Professional Performing Arts School at 12 and graduated as valedictorian at 16. Her chosen surname, is a tribute to her passion and first love—her piano.
Many different things go into the mix when parents set out to choose a name for their baby. You want it to fit you, your family, your brand. Our loves, our past, our hopes, our philosophies are deeply tied not to the names that we have ourselves, but to the names that we give our children.
Names are often the first thing that people learn about us because our name is on a list of appointments, attendees or members. It is likely that some conclusions will be drawn, based on a name on a piece of paper, before you even walk into the room. Because you are the one who gave this name, it is a reflection of you and those preconceptions will often be about you. As your baby grows and is out there, independent in the world, those preconceptions will become about them.
Here’s a rundown of what your baby’s name might tell the world about you:
You are TRADITIONAL
These are the names that are most traditional—they have a long tradition in a family, religion or culture. These names are often chosen out of honour—a family member or tradition. They are also ‘can’t go wrong’ names.
Jack, James, Emma, Hannah, Matthew, David, Joshua, Sophia, Jacob
You DARE TO BE DIFFERENT
This one is about the name itself but it can also be about unique spellings of more common names. At the top of the list of names that are famous for being different include Gwyneth Paltrow’s Apple and Moses, Jason Lee’s Pilot Inspektor and Casper. It’s not just celebrities though—we have seen our fair share too, including Pirate, Byrd and Cinnamon.
Poet, Pippa, Rhapsody, Django, Morgandy, Lyric, Maverick, Dukalyn, Brick
Modifying the spelling of what might otherwise be considered a traditional name lets it be known that you have a flair for the unique. Twists on conventional spellings include exchanging an I or an E for a Y, using an IE instead of a Y, exchanging a K for a C, adding an extra A or using a silent H.
Lucie, Aaden, Khate, Khloe, Justyn. Baylie, Abigayle, Liya, Cayla
You are “GREEN”
These names are some of my favourites when imagining what the parents are like. I imagine that they are vegetarian or vegan, they love to hike and do yoga, they have been using reuseable shopping bags for their groceries before it was fashionable and they would probably rather go camping than to Disney World.
Cedar, Oak, Ocean, Zen, Lotus, Maple, Leaf, Lake, River, Harvest
You are SENTIMENTAL
These are names that might be handed down through family history or surnames being given as first names. These names might also come from a special time or place, such as the little boy named Rigley, “yes, for Wrigley Field,” explains a new father, “My dad were big Cubs fans and some of my greatest memories of childhood are there, with him.” These are also names of special places.
Hudson, Anderson, McGregor, Sheridan, Smith, Dublin, Bauer, Maclean
You are a POP CULTURE ENTHUSIAST
These names tend to reflect current trends in pop culture and entertainment. An increase in the names Bella and Edward of Twilight fame, are an example. Also in this category are names influenced by celebrities, music and literature, such as the little boy named Hendrix, “yes, as in JIMI,” his Dad smiles. Another strong example here would include Mariah Carey naming her daughter Monroe, after Marilyn Monroe, one of her greatest inspirations.
Lennon, Lennox, Costello, Coltrane, Farley, Huckleberry, Moby
You have STRONG TIES TO YOUR HERITAGE
When a name is from your families ties to their culture, heritage, religion or ‘home’ it shows a strong connection to where you come from. These names might be popular cultural names or spellings or they might be names that are rich with meaning. These names might say something to people about your family history.
Mohammed, Hadassah, Ceildh, Bjorn, Dimitri, Mordechai, Prianka
With all of this in mind, preconceptions are just that. They are an idea or an opinion formed before acquiring adequate information or experience. You might not fit into any of these categories, or you might fit in to more than one. What is clear about all of them is that much time, thought, consideration and love went into choosing them. Each and every one.
Spill it! What does your baby's name say about you?
Your children's names are really the first thing that you give them that they will have for the rest of their lives. There are those mothers among us who have known what names they would give to their children since they were young, while others only start the selection process once they find out that that they are pregnant.
It will be the one word that you will speak more than any other in your house (well, except for “no” during those toddler years).