14 Famous People Whose Real Name Will Surprise You

By | July 23, 2019

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14. Oprah Winfrey-

Oprah Winfrey-

The talk show host is known worldwide as an actress, philanthropist, and producer. Her show was rated the highest rated television program and is listed as the “Queen of All Media.” During her time on air, the multi-talented starlet showed the world a glimpse into her life, childhood and name change. Born Orpah Gail Winfrey, she was named after the Biblical figure Orpah. But she stated that it caused a lot of confusion because nobody knew how to spell her name or pronounce it either. In fact, the hospital staff put the p before the r in every place on her birth certificate before being corrected. So even though it says Orpah, it got translated to Oprah, and the name has stuck ever since.

13. Jamie Foxx-

Jamie Foxx

Best known as an actor, comedian and singer, he started trending on Twitter in late May 2017 when people discovered that Jamie Foxx wasn’t his real name. Celebrities often come up with professional stage names to market themselves, but everyone was stunned when they found out the name Jamie Foxx was just a stage name, probably because Foxx has been in the entertainment industry for such a long time. Born Eric Marlon Bishop, he started his comedy gig during open mic nights in the late 80’s. When Foxx learned that female comedians were mostly called first to perform, he began going by the name Jamie Foxx in hopes that it was dubious enough to disallow any biases. He chose the last name Foxx as a tribute to comedian Redd Foxx who was known for his raunchy standups. Soon after Foxx’s birth name discovery, a slew of memes began circulating on the internet. But it doesn’t matter Jamie Foxx; we love you just the same if not even more!

12. Lana Del Rey-

Lana Del Rey-

The indie pop singer is best known for her songs full of tragic romance that references themes of Americana in the 1950’s and 60’s. But once upon a time, the “Summertime Sadness” singer was just like any other ordinary girl. Born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, her nickname growing up was Lizzie. In an interview with MTV, she revealed that she chose the name Lana Del Rey because she wanted a name that evoked feelings of being by the seaside with an exotic taste to it. So thus the name Lana Del Rey came to mind and it just sounded beautiful. And with beautiful music comes an entirely fitting name. Can’t imagine it any other way.

11. Bruno Mars-

Bruno Mars

Back in 2013, the multi-talented star found himself in hot water when critics accused him of changing his name in an attempt to hide his Latino Roots. But the Grammy Award-winning singer stated an entirely different reason for the move. Born Peter Gene Hernandez, he told Latina magazine that he wanted to clear the air and said he never changed his name to hide the fact he Puerto Rican. Born to a Jewish Puerto Rican percussionist, he revealed that it was his father who gave him his interesting name. Growing up, the star was nicknamed Bruno and the name Mars comes from the idea that there’s something bigger than life. He relates it to being an oxymoron, stating that his music is for everyone and shouldn’t be tied down to only certain groups of people. His struggle to go against being stereotyped is something that the singer has fought with since he entered the music industry at 17 years old. But there’s no denying that his music is unique and he has a one of a kind name to match it.

10. Audrey Hepburn-

Audrey Hepburn

Hepburn was an influential actress with numerous awards under her belt. Even after retiring from acting, her humanitarian work carried on which led her to become an international diplomat for UNICEF. Gracious and beautiful, the iconic actress was born Edda Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston. Whew, try saying that three times fast. Her surname was changed after WWII when her father discovered documentation that their ancestors had the name, Hepburn. He changed his name which prompted her to do the same.

9. Albert Brooks-

Albert Brooks-

Best known for playing Nemo’s overprotective father in the 2004 Disney movie, “Finding Nemo,” and “Finding Dory,” the actor is also an author, comedian, and filmmaker as well. Son to actress and singer Thelma Theeds and radio host Harry Einstein, he was born Albert Lawrence Einstein. From the name alone, you can see how this would give you unnecessary attention. But it wasn’t until Brooks entered show business that prompted him to change his name in order to avoid confusion with the famous scientist. The name change, of course, was an obvious switch for him, but some people have asked him about it. To which he responded, “Do I even have to answer?” Good point!

8. Judy Garland-

Judy Garland-

The iconic actress received international stardom for her vocals and notable film roles that span more than 35 years. She was born Frances Gumm, and before launching a successful solo career, she and her sisters toured as “The Gumm Sisters” at the Vaudeville circuit. However, the name was immediately changed after the audience laughed at it during a performance. The real reason behind the name choice for the actress is unknown, but there are several theories. One explanation states that the last name pays homage to Lily Garland from the movie Twentieth Century, and the three sisters were once told they were prettier than a garland of flowers. It is also believed that the actress picked Judy as her first name as a source of inspiration from a favorite song at the time.

7.Ben Kingsley-

Ben Kingsley-

With a career spanning over forty years, Kingsley is best known for his roles in Shutter Island, Hugo and Iron Man 3. Born in England as Krishna Pandi Bhanji, what many people don’t know about the Academy Awards star is that he is named after a Hindu God and Bhanji is a Muslim surname. The Sexy Beast actor got an early start in his acting career in theater but made the name change when he made the transition to acting in films. He and his father believed a British name would help him become successful in his career. He picked his father’s nickname Ben and sought inspiration from his grandfather’s name King Clove. When regarding the name change, he pointed out the irony he changed his name from Krishna Bhanji to Ben Kingsley in order to portray Mohandas Gandhi !

6. Miley Ray Cyrus-

Miley Ray Cyrus-

The former Disney starlet became a household name as Hannah Montana and is known for her crazy antics and wild outfits. At age 15 before she won her leading role on the Disney sitcom, she changed her name to Miley Ray Cyrus. As a child, she was nicknamed “Smiley” because she smiled a lot and the name stuck with friends and family. She was born Destiny Hope Cyrus. This name was eventually changed to Miley. In 2008, the actress legally changed her name. Her middle name Ray pays tribute to her country singer dad Billy Ray Cyrus.

5. Calvin Harris-

Calvin Harris-

World renowned DJ Calvin Harris is one of the highest paid DJ’s in the world. He’s worked with notable musicians like Rihanna, Ellie Goulding, Big Sean and John Newman just to name a few. While it is fairly standard for DJ’s to have stage names what most people might not that Calvin Harris is just his stage name. Why? Well because Calvin Harris sounds like any other regular name right? Well, there’s actually a kind of interesting story behind it. Born Adam Richard Wiles, the Scottish DJ told Shortlist back in 2009 that he choose this particular name because of its racial ambiguity. He revealed that his first single record was more of a soul track and decided that Calvin Harris sounded more racially ambiguous. He wanted people to guess and know if he was black or not and the name just stuck with it.

4. Portia de Rossi-

Portia de Rossi

The Australian-American model and actress is known for her notable role on Scandal, modeling spreads and philanthropy activism in various organizations. Even though she is also famously known for being married to actress and comedian Ellen Degeneres, the starlet revealed that her name change is largely credited to her struggles growing up gay. Born Amanda Lee Rogers, she told The Advocate back in 2005 she legally changed her name at fifteen years old. She chose the name Portia because she loved Shakespeare. She picked the last name De Rossi because since she was Australian, she that an exotic Italian last name would fit her more than Amanda Rogers. She went on to say that when you’re living in Australia, even though Europe is far away, it’s so cultured, fascinating, stylish and sophisticated.

3. Vin Diesel-

Vin Diesel-

Widely recognized for his starring role in the action-packed franchise “Fast and the Furious,” Vin Diesel is a perfectly suited name for him. Along with his deep voice and muscular body, it’s hard to believe he was born Mark Sinclair Vincent. The California native didn’t change his name until he reached his mid-teen years when he started working as a bouncer for nightclubs in New York. Smart move on his part considering, Vin Diesel is a much more fitting name for the chiseled actor.

2. Whoopi Goldberg –

Whoopi Goldberg

If you know anything about the hilarious comedian, then you know the actress takes pride in making everyone laugh. With an affluent career spanning over twenty years in showbusiness, she revealed some interesting hindsight of how she got stuck with her stage name. Born Caryn Johnson, her name was taken from a whoopee cushion. Yes, the inflatable farting balloon used for gags and pranks. She stated that people use to tell her that she was like a whoopee cushion and said,“if you get a little gassy, you’ve got to let it go.” Her last name Goldberg came from a family name that her mother suggested so people would take her more seriously. The actress stated that although her mother did not call her Whoopi, Goldberg is her family name and part of her heritage. In a story printed by the Jewish Chronicle, her mother thought that taking a Jewish last name would help her succeed and believed that Goldberg wasn’t Jewish enough.

1. Sir Elton Hercules John-

Sir Elton Hercules John-

Then English composer, singer, and pianist is a legend in his own right. Especially with a name that oozes royalty, you can’t deny that Elton John has remained classy and elegant throughout his entire career. Even though it seemed like the iconic singer was always destined for greatness, he had some doubts. Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, he changed his name before he sought fame. In fact, has said that his never felt comfortable with his birth name and hearing it made him cringe. He thought it didn’t have enough star power to it and said if you’re going to pursue a record deal, the name Reg Dwight isn’t going to cut it. His name change choice was inspired by singer Long John Baldry and saxophone player Elton Dean.