Real Names of Celebrities

These celebrities don't use the names they were born with.

98 photos
1/98
Getty Images
The rapper turned "22 Jump Street" actor legally changed his name to Ice Cube from O'Shea Jackson. Ice Cube said the name came from his brother who said the star was "too cool".
2/98
Getty Images for Clear Channel
Looks like Ariana Grande does have "one less problem"-- that is one less name. The artist's full name is Ariana Grande-Burtera.
3/98
Getty Images For 102.7 KIIS FM's
The up and coming Austrialian recording artist decided her real name, Amethyst Amelia Kelly, may be too "Fancy". She came up with her stage name by combining her childhood dog's name, Iggy with the street she grew up on, Azalea Street.
4/98
Getty Images for Sonos
The British pop sensation decided she did not "Love It"; she went from Charlotte Emma Aitchison to Charli XCX.
5/98
Getty Images
The self-proclaimed "Different" rapper, legally named Tauheed Epps, started his rap career under the name Tity Boi but changed it to 2 Chainz in 2011 so he could appeal to a bigger audience.
6/98
Getty Images
The self-proclaimed 17-year-old feminist and singer was born with the dainty name Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor wanted a strong, syllable, masculine stage name, which is how she landed with her alias Lorde.
7/98
Getty Images for BET
Members of the musical collective The Dungeon Family recognized that Nayvadius DeMun Wilbun was the "future" of rap, which is how the artist got his name Future.
8/98
Getty Images
Aaron Paul Sturtevant dropped the last name early in his career when he was starring in commercials for Juicy Fruit and Corn Pops.
9/98
Getty Images
Before getting the stage name Common Sense with his single debut in 1992, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. was working for the Chicago Bulls; a job his father, ABA basketball player, Lonnie Lynn, helped him get.
10/98
Getty
Before belting his moving lyrics of "All of Me", John Legend was an English major at the University of Pennsylvania known by his classmates as John Roger Stephens.
11/98
Getty Images for CBS Radio, Inc.
The rapper who "turns down" for nothing is an international sensation with a single-word catchphrase: "Yeah". Before he was taking "shots, shots, shots", Lil Jon was simply another Jonathan Smith from Atlanta, Georgia.
12/98
Getty Images
The "Young and Beautiful" singer, Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, originally played in nightclubs across New York City under a slew of aliases--like Sparkle Jump Rope Queen, Lizzy Grant, May Jailer and the Phenomena--before settling on the now most recognizable Lana Del Rey.
13/98
Getty Images
"Argo" director and soon-to-be Batman's full name is Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt. His mother's maiden name was Boldt. His parents gave him the middle name Géza after a friend of theirs who had survived the Holocaust.
14/98
Getty Images
Zoe Yadira Saldaña Nazario shortened her name when she hit stardom to simply, Zoe Saldaña.
15/98
Getty Images
Jason Derulo thought his fans would have an easier for his fans to "Talk Dirty" to him if he changed his name to its a phonetic spelling from his real name Jason Joel Desrouleaux.
16/98
Getty Images for MTV
Some of Lil Wayne's most popular albums were called "Tha Carter", "Tha Carter II" and the most notable "Tha Carter III". This makes since since the Louisiana native's real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.
17/98
Getty Images for AFI
The 28 Golden Globe nominee was given the name Mary Louise after her grandmother. While growing up, her mother started calling the future "Iron Lady" actress Mary L. which later became Meryl.
18/98
Getty Images
The South Korean singer/dancer won the hearts of millions with his hilarious dance moves and sense of humor. Before "Gangnam Style", Psy was known as Park Jae-sang
19/98
Getty Images
Trey Songs was a shy military brat who had no interest in having a musical career because of his shyness. Tremaine Neverson started getting more into rapping when people noticed he had talent and kept encouraging him.
20/98
Getty Images for Clear Channel
Swedish DJ Tim Bergling landed on his name Avicii while learning about Buddhist studies. Avici is the lowest level of Naraka (Buddhist hell) where the dead have served their punishment and may allowed to be reborn. He added the extra "i" because Avici was already taken on Myspace
21/98
Getty Images
While the electronic dance music DJ went by many names before landing on Tiësto-- Allure, Steve Forte Rio, Da Joker and Timothy Barba-- the Dutch record producer's childhood name was Tijs Michiel Verwest.
22/98
Getty Images
Before he signed on as a rapper with Wiz Khalifa's label, Ty Dolla $ign was starting off his musical career playing bass guitar under his real name Tyrone Griffin.
23/98
Getty Images
Khalifa got his stage name from an Arabic word meaning wisdom and successor-- he shortened wisdom to "Wiz" and kept Khalifa, turning him into the "Work Hard, Play Hard" artist he is today.
24/98
Getty Images for Variety
It's no mystery that the "Sherlock Holmes" shortened his name when becoming famous from David Jude Heyworth Law to Jude Law.
25/98
WireImage
Liz Lemon and Tina Fey have more in common than you think...like their first names. The "30 Rock" actress was born Elizabeth Stamatina Fey. But she's always gone by Tina, a shortened version of her middle name. Click to see more celebs who've changed their names.
26/98
Getty Images
Katy Perry was once Katy Hudson, a Christian folk singer. She took her mother's maiden name, Perry, when she crossed over to pop.
27/98
Getty Images For Canon
Jamie Foxx started his comedic career as Eric Marlon Bishop. But, he quickly realized female comedians were often picked over men to perform, so he changed his first name to Jamie. As for his new surname, it's a tribute to comedian Redd Foxx.
28/98
Getty Images
Did you think Reese Witherspoon's perfect stage name was real? Well, the "Legally Blonde" actress ditched her real first name—Laura—for her mother's maiden name.
29/98
FilmMagic
Today's he's Bono, but the Irish singer's real name is Paul David Hewson. The nickname's been around since he was a teenager, but his wife Alison helps him remember life before the one word name, professionally taking his surname.
30/98
FilmMagic
Growing up, Meg Ryan was known as Peggy Hyra. But when she began acting, she started using her maternal grandmother's last name and adopted Meg instead of Peggy.
31/98
Getty Images
Demi Moore was born Demetria Gene Guynes. But, the fabulous forty-something takes her stage name from her first husband, Freddy Moore.
32/98
AP
Though she was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta in Manhattan, you may know her as Lady Gaga. She was ranked first on Forbes' 2011 Celebrity 100 Power List.
33/98
Getty
Did you know? The "Dude Looks Like a Lady" singer Steven Tyler was in fact born "Steven Victor Tallarico." "Tyler" does tend to roll off the tongue a little easier!
34/98
AP
"Glee's" Lea Michele said she changed her name to avoid bullying at school. "Sarfati. That's my real last name," she told Jay Leno. "I don't use it a lot because I got Lea So-fatty, Lea So-farty at school." At her first audition, she gave "Lea Michele" as her name, and it's stuck ever since.
35/98
NBC News Multimedia
Rapper Nicki Minaj was actually born Onika Tanya Maraj in St. James, Trinidad and Tobago.
36/98
Alex Matthews
Ooh, na, na, what's her name? Caribbean queen Rihanna was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in Barbados.
37/98
Getty Images
It's a good thing Drake chose his middle name for a rap pseudonym. His first name is Aubrey and his surname is Graham. Aubrey doesn't exactly scream bad boy rapper. The onetime actor got his start on the Canadian remake of "Degrassi."
38/98
Getty Images
Jay-Z's mom knows him as Shawn Carter. The Brooklyn-bred superstar, who grew up in the Marcy Houses near the J/Z subway line, was nicknamed "Jazzy" as a kid.
39/98
Lewis Jacobs/NBC
"The Voice" judge Cee Lo Green never deigns to remove his sunglasses. But growing up Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, we bet he was spectacle-free.
40/98
WireImage/Getty Images
Tinie Tempah hasn't always had such a tiny name. The 22-year-old top-selling British rapper of Nigerian descent was born Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu.
41/98
AP
She's played everyone from Julia Child to a thinly veiled Anna Wintour to Margaret Thatcher, but Meryl Streep was actually born Mary Louise Streep.
42/98
Getty Images
Streep's daughter was born Mary Willa Streep but goes by Mamie Gummer. She acts off-Broadway.
43/98
You may know it as "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," but it could have been "The Daily Show with Jon Leibowitz."
44/98
Matt Reeves/DarkroomDemons.com
Born Kesha Rose Sebert, the singer moved from Nashville to L.A. at 17, changing her named to Ke$ha — possibly because a pizza place "<a href="http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/f6f8af76f6/ke-ha-the-story-of-the">ran out of S's</a>."
45/98
Getty Images
At age 17, Allen Konigsberg changed his name to Heywood Allen — and hey, after that, why not shorten it some more?
46/98
WireImage
You might call her Pink now, but she was born Alecia Beth Moore in Doylestown, Penn.
47/98
Getty Images
Tiger Woods' real first name is Eldrick. He was born on Dec. 30, 1975, and grew up in Cypress, Calif. He was nicknamed Tiger — the same nickname his father had given his friend, a Vietnamese soldier.
48/98
Getty Images
New York-born singer Alicia Keys was born Alicia Augello Cook. Unfortunately, "Augello Cook" doesn't exactly evoke Keys' instrument of choice.
49/98
AP
Ellen DeGeneres' wife Portia de Rossi's well-known moniker is a stage name: She was born in Geelong, Australia, as Amanda Rogers.
50/98
Getty Images for VH1
Robert James Ritchie agrees with most of the world that his stage name is stupid. Kid Rock is "the worst name in the world," he admitted to Esquire. "The only person who had a dumber name than me was the Fresh Prince."
51/98
Getty Images
She can get away with one name as Fergie in the Black Eyed Peas, but she started as Stacy Ann Ferguson on "Kids Incorporated."
52/98
Jeff Fusco
He was knighted under the name Elton John, but his mother called him Reginald Kenneth Dwight.
53/98
WireImage
Carmen Electra is a great name for a video vixen. Interestingly, her real name, Tara Patrick, closely resembles that of adult film star Tera Patrick.
54/98
FilmMagic/Getty Images
"Nothin' On You" rapper and crooner B.o.B was born Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr. — and still goes by Bobby Ray. "When I was signed under B.o.B, I was really young and didn't understand the type of business I was getting into," he told MTV in July 2009. "Bobby Ray isn't a character — he's really me."
55/98
AFP/Getty Images
Ambient Irish singer Enya was born Eithne Patricia Ní Bhraonáin in Donegal, Ireland. Her name, by the way, is a registered trademark.
56/98
Getty Images
Pro wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan made a huge brand out of his in-the-ring moniker. He came into this world with the much less intimidating name: Terry Gene Bollea.
57/98
Getty Images
Anna Nicole Smith was born Vickie Lynn Hogan in the Texas town of Mexia before Hugh Hefner made her the cover girl of the March 1992 issue of Playboy.
58/98
Telemundo Denver
Mario Armado Lavandeira, Jr. loved to blog about Paris Hilton — hence the nickname Perez Hilton.
59/98
Getty Images
Meat Loaf was born Marvin Lee Aday in Dallas.
60/98
AP
Madonna didn't have to go far to find her stage name. She was born Madonna Louise Ciccone in Bay City, Mich.
61/98
Getty
Curtis James Jackson III adopted the stage name 50 Cent from an '80s Brooklyn robber known by the same name. "It says everything I want it to say. I'm the same person 50 Cent was. I provide for myself by any means," he told Stuff Magazine.
62/98
Erick Ravele.info
Axl Rose was born William Bruce Rose, Jr., but his mom changed his name to William Bruce Bailey when she remarried. He adopted "Axl" after a band he played in once.
63/98
Getty Images
Axl's former Guns N' Roses bandmate Slash was born Saul Hudson in London. In 2009 Time ranked him second on its list of "The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players."
64/98
Getty Images for IMG
Fashionistas shell out a lot of cash to wear clothing bearing the name Ralph Lauren. Would things have been the same if the American designer had kept his original name, Ralph Lipschitz?
65/98
Getty Images
Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. was born in Long Beach, Calif., before he hit the hip-hop scene as Snoop Dogg.
66/98
Getty Images
Larry King was born Lawrence Ziegler in Brooklyn. He got his name from an ad in The Miami Herald for King's Wholesale Liquor minutes before air on WAHR radio (now WMBM).
67/98
Getty Images for Spike TV
Before Criss Angel became a "Mindfreak" he was known as Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos.
68/98
Getty Images
MC Hammer was born Stanley Kirk Burrell in Oakland, Calif. He got the name "Hammer" from Reggie Jackson when he was a batboy for the Oakland A's. The MC came from being Master of Ceremonies at various clubs while on the road with the A's.
69/98
Getty Images
Chuck Norris was born Carlos Ray Norris in Ryan, Oklahoma. You can call him Carlos at your own risk.
70/98
Getty Images
Before Barry Manilow wrote the songs that made the whole world sing he was Barry Alan Pincus from Brooklyn.
71/98
Getty Images
Tracy Marrow is a cool drink better known as rapper/actor Ice-T.
72/98
Getty Images
John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. was born in New Jersey. Jon Bon Jovi was born in a recording studio known as The Power Station with a song called "Runaway."
73/98
Getty Images
Christopher Brian Bridges was born in Champaign, Ill. As Ludacris he has won SAG, Critics' Choice, MTV and Grammy Awards.
74/98
Getty Images
Ben Kingsley is best known for his portrayal of Gandhi, not his birth name, Krishna Pandit Banji.
75/98
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Oft-arrested pop singer George Michael has made a bad name for himself with his many legal run-ins. His real name, George Kyriacos Panayiotou, must give the court reporters fits.
76/98
Getty Images
Before Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell," his mother would yell "William Michael Albert Broad" to get him to come home. A teacher described him as "idle" and a stage name was born.
77/98
Getty Images
We pity the fool who calls Mr. T by his given name, Lawrence Tero.
78/98
Getty Images
Chaim Witz was born in Israel. He changed his name to Eugene Klein (his mother's maiden name was Klein) in New York City, then to Gene Simmons to honor rockabilly performer Jumpin' Gene Simmons.
79/98
Getty Images
Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr. was nicknamed Busta Rhymes by Chuck D of Public Enemy, who got the name from NFL wide receiver George "Buster" Rhymes.
80/98
Getty Images for Cirque du Solei
Wynonna Judd was born Christina Claire Ciminella in Ashland, Kentucky. Now she just goes by Wynonna.
81/98
We can only guess how Scott Thompson got the stage name Carrot Top.
82/98
Getty Images
Sheena Shirley Orr doesn't quite have the same ring as Sheena Easton, does it? Easton was the last name of the first of her four husbands.
83/98
AP
Archibald Alexander Leach performed under his birth name on stage, then changed his name to Cary Lockwood. Paramount Pictures didn't like that name but did like the initials C and G, as in Gary Cooper and Clark Gable, leaving us with "The Awful Truth" and "North by Northwest" star Cary Grant.
84/98
Getty Images
Rapper/actor DMX was born Earl Simmons in Baltimore, Md.
85/98
Getty Images
Comedian Caryn Elaine Johnson took her first name from a whoopee cushion, and changed her last name to Goldberg because her mother felt Johnson wasn't "Jewish enough" to make her a star.
86/98
AP
Charo was born María Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Gutiérrez de los Perales Santa Ana Romanguera y de la Hinojosa Rasten in Spain. Aren't you glad we know her by one name?
87/98
Getty Images
David Robert Jones took his name from Jim Bowie of Bowie knife fame, in an effort to differentiate himself from contemporary artist Davy Jones of The Monkees. Don't ask us why David Bowie changed the pronunciation.
88/98
Getty Images
Mark Sinclair Vincent got his name when he was a bouncer at New York City's Tunnel nightclub. Vin came from Vincent, and "Diesel" because his friends said he had nonstop energy.
89/98
Getty Images
Erykah Badu was born Erica Abi Wright in Dallas. She changed her name to reflect her heritage, with a new spelling of her first name and the Badu from Ghana.
90/98
Getty Images
English DJ Fatboy Slim was born Quentin Norman Cook.
91/98
Getty Images
Huey Lewis was born Hugh Anthony Cregg III in New York City. He's also used the stage names Hughie Louis, Huey Louis and Huey Harp.
92/98
Getty Images
Yvette Stevens was christened Chaka Adunne Aduffe Yemoja Hodarhi Karifi by a Yoruba priest. The Khan comes from her marriage to Hassan Khan.
93/98
Getty Images
Issur Danielovitch doesn't really roll off the tongue quite like Kirk Douglas.
94/98
Getty Images
LL Cool J stands for "Ladies Love Cool James," in reference to James Todd Smith III, who grew up in Queens, New York.
95/98
Getty Images
Gordon Sumner earned the stage name Sting after he performed wearing a black and yellow sweater that made him look like a wasp during a gig with the Phoenix Jazzmen. He has embraced the nickname. At a press conference a journalist called him Gordon, he replied: "My children call me Sting, my mother calls me Sting. Who is this Gordon character?"
96/98
Getty Images
He's Sinbad when he's on stage making people laugh, but he was born David Atkins and got his start on "Star Search," where he beat Dennis Miller.
97/98
At age 16, Leslie Hornby was known around the world as Twiggy, the thin teenage model with large eyes and long eyelashes. Most recently she served as a judge on the reality show "America's Next Top Model."
98/98
NBC 5 News
Steveland Hardaway Judkins was born in 1950 in Saginaw, Mich. When he got hooked up with Motown Records at age 11, he was dubbed "Little Stevie Wonder," and a star was born.
Contact Us