Who’s Lucille LeSeur? What about Archibald Alexander Leach? Is Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov a famous actress, or a secret Russian spy?
Many actors, writers, and musicians choose to go by stage or pen names instead of their given names. Sometimes, the reason for changing their name is pretty practical. Other times, it’s simply humorous. Keep on reading to find out which is which, and discover the true identities of the world’s top stars.
1. Whoopi Goldberg
Real Name: Caryn Johnson
With her bright, humorous personality, her chosen stage name really seems to fit. She’s said that her name-change was actually taken from a whoopee cushion. “If you get a little gassy, you’ve got to let it go. So people used to say to me, ‘You’re like a whoopee cushion.’ And that’s where the name came from.”
2. Kirk Douglas
Real Name: Issur Danielovitch Demsky
Kirk Douglas is one of the last people from Hollywood’s Golden Age still living. He’s famous for films like Paths of Glory and Spartacus. His parents were both Jewish immigrants, and he grew up speaking Yiddish at home. He changed his name in order to get better acting roles.
3. Joan Crawford
Real Name: Lucille LeSueur
Joan Crawford came from fairly humble beginnings. Her father was a laundry laborer, and she started her career as a dancer and showgirl. It was her acting studio’s decision to change her name. They thought her last name sounded too much like “sewer”.
4. Audrey Hepburn
Real Name: Edda Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston
What a mouthful! Of course, Audrey’s mother was a Baroness, which explains why her given name was so long. Originally, her name was simply Edda Kathleen Ruston, but after WWII, her father found that some of their family ancestors carried the surname ‘Hepburn’, and added the surname to their family name. Van Heemstra is her mother’s maiden name.
Real Name: Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong
Dido is, perhaps, most famous for her hit song “White Flag”. The English singer and songwriter was born to a French poet and Irish publisher. Dido considers “Dido” to be her real name, and not merely a stage name, but she’s struggled a lot with it over the years.
“To be called one thing and christened another is actually very confusing and annoying. It’s one of the most irritating things that my parents did to me. … Florian is a German man’s name. That’s just mean. To give your child a whole lot of odd names. They were all so embarrassing. … I thought it was cruel to call me Dido and then expect me to just deal with it.”
6. Martin Sheen
Real Name: Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez
Most noted for his roles in Apocalypse Now and Gettysburg, Martin Sheen was born to immigrant parents. He opted to change his name in order to help him gain better acting roles. He’s the father of four children, all of whom have become actors.
7. Bruno Mars
Real Name: Peter Gene Hernandez
Bruno Mars actually hails from Honolulu, Hawaii. He’s been named one of Times’ 100 most influential people in the world. Could he have done it with his original name? Probably. But “Bruno Mars” certainly has a great ring to it.
8. Helen Mirren
Real Name: Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov
This A-List British actress is famous for her sharp wit and films like Monster’s University and The Queen. Despite being an English icon, she actually has Russian ancestry. Her great-great-great-great-grandfather was field-marshal Kamensky, one of the great Russian heroes of the Napoleonic wars.
9. Dezi Arnaz
Real Name: Desiderio Albert Arnaz y De Acha III
Desi made his claim to fame with Lucille Ball in their hit comedy show I Love Lucy. We can only assume that he went by a nickname because Desiderio Albert Arnaz y De Acha III is a bit hard to fit on a 24-inch television screen.