These Celebrities Chose Not to Use Their Real Names, and It’s Easy to See Why

Being a celebrity often means having your name in lights, which might be why these 18 celebs chose to use an alter ego. Sometimes the name is too bland, too complex, or just doesen’t have that ring to it. No matter the reason, we know these celebs by their chosen name, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

  1. Stevie Wonder
    Stevie Wonder is one of the most successful American singers of the second half of the 20th century. Stevie Wonder’s real name, Stevland Hardaway Morris, is not. Stevie did start his musical career with Motown Records under Stevland Morris, though, an executive regularly referred to him as a “Wonder,” and a legend was born.
  2. Alicia Keys
    Alicia Keys did not have her current name as her first choice, though she knew that Alicia Augello-Cook did not have the right ring for the stage. Alicia had desired to go by “Alicia Wild,” though her mother thought it sounded like a stripper’s name. The surname Keys was settled for as it was musical, with piano keys being the origin.
  3. Bruno Mars
    Bruno Mars decided that Peter Gene Herandez was not stage-worthy. Instead, he took Bruno from a famous, larger-bodied wrestler, that his dad used to compare him to because Bruno Mars was a chunky baby. Mars came from the fact that many girls referred to him as “Out of this world.” As celebrity names go, Bruno Mars is a more memorable improvement.
  4. Lady Gaga
    Lady Gaga wanted to reinvent herself into the queen she is today. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was a bit of an outsider in her teen years. There are some conflicting stories to the origin of the celebrity’s chosen name, with one story being that her producer regularly compared her to the Queen song “Radio Gaga.” Gaga stuck, the point that she used the name in her acting credits. Gaga may one day revert to Stefani, but it doesn’t seem like it will be any time soon.
  5. Sir Michael Caine
    As celebrity names go, not many call for as much respect as Sir Michael Caine. One difference between Sir Michael and other celebrity names is that now Michael Caine is his real name. He has been using the stage name since 1954, instead of Maurice Micklewhite though recently decided to cut ties with his real name, so he made the change official. Why? Because airport security was too much of a hassle with two names. However, if he had his original choice, he would have been known as Michael Scott, but it was already taken, luckily.
  6. Oliva Wilde
    Olivia Jane Cockburn wasn’t quite feeling the ring when it came to her name appearing on movie posters. Oliva wanted a name that she could use for her acting career, and she opted for Oliva Wilde. The surname was a nod to the famous Irish author Oscar Wilde along with a further acknowledgment of her family, who also use pen names.
  7. Sir Elton John
    Reginald Kenneth Dwight did not have many fond memories of his name. For this reason, he took the first name of the saxophone player in a band he was in, Elton, and the first name of the singer in the same band, John, and put the two together. In 1972, the name change became official, and a new man was born, and he’s still standing.
  8. Jamie Foxx
    Jamie Foxx is not a patient man, which is why he wanted to try and trick people into thinking he was a woman. Obviously, that statement needs some context. Eric Marlon Bishop initially had no problem using his given name until he started performing in comedy clubs back in 1989. At the time, women were often called to stage first, so Eric decided to change his name to Jamie Foxx, hoping that he would get to the stage earlier than his other, male counterparts.
  9. Lana Del Rey
    Lana Del Rey’s story is similar to other celebrity real name changes. Lizzy Grant has one released album, and a few videos on Youtube and fame just didn’t come to her. On the other hand, Lana Del Rey is one of the biggest names on the US music scene. The soaring success of Lana Del Rey did raise some questions about the transition, with many wondering if it was all planned.
  10. Katy Perry
    Katy Hudson had her first album debut back in 2001, which brought with it a rock gospel style of music. Don’t know who Katy Hudson is? How about Katy Perry? Yep, Katy Hudson became the California Girl we know. The name change came because of the possible confusion with actress Kate Hudson.
  11. Nicolas Cage
    Nicolas Coppola didn’t want his rise to fame overshadowed by his successful movie director, uncle, Francis Ford Coppola. Nicolas Coppola also loves the Marvel Super Hero Luke Cage. When you put those two things together, you get Nicolas Cage, the man who will be appearing in a movie as Nicolas Cage.
  12. Ringo Starr
    Ringo Starr “wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles.” and neither was Richard Starkey. The name Ringo came from the fact that he very often wore a gold ring, and Starr came from his drum solos nicknamed “Starr Time.” With that, one of the Fab Four was born.
  13. David Bowie
    David Bowie is another case of a celebrity name change because he didn’t want to get confused with someone else. Davy Jones was concerned that if he kept his original name, he would get confused with Davy Jones of The Monkees.
  14. P!NK
    How much do you love Steve Buscemi’s character Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs? Probably not as much as Alecia Beth Moore. She needed a stage name and loved Mr. Pink so much that she went with that as her new name, and P!NK was born. P!NK did meet Steve in the early days, before her first album, but he had no idea who she was.
  15. Tom Cruise
    Can you think of a cooler name than Tom Cruise? There aren’t many, but the origins of the name change aren’t under the best circumstances. Thomas Cruise Mapother IV did not have the best father, and even after his mother left Thomas Cruise Mapother III, Tom still moved around a lot. One of the only constants he had was his acting, so he dropped the last name for his acting career, and became the man known for doing his stunts and giving 200%, Tom Cruise.
  16. Natalie Portman
    The parents of Neta-Lee Hershlag wanted to keep some privacy before their daughter shot to stardom. Together, they opted for Natalie Portman, and its a good job they did as she ended up in Marvel and Star Wars movies, among many other great films.
  17. Nicki Minaj
    Onika Tanya Maraj hates Nicki Minaj, but according to her, the name change wasn’t her choice. Early in her career, one of her first production deals required her to change her name, and she fought it. The reasoning was that it didn’t have the flow desired to make it big on the music scene.
  18. Snoop Dog
    Not many people would appreciate getting compared to a cartoon character. Even fewer people would enjoy getting compared to a cartoon character that’s a dog. Calvin Broadus, Jr embraced his mother’s comparisons to Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s canine companion, to the point that he took the name as his own.