12 Celebs Who Changed Their Legal Names To Stage Names

12 Celebs Who Changed Their Legal Names To Stage Names


That’s one way to simplify things!

Plenty of celebs choose stage names to set themselves apart. Quite often, those stage names take on a life of their own.

To some celebs, a stage name is more than just a persona — it becomes their entire identity. So they decide to trade in their original name.

Here are 12 celebs who legally changed their real names to their stage names:

1.

At 16, David McDonald had to complete his actors’ union registration under the stage name David Tennant because another actor was already working under his name.


Comic Relief / Getty Images

He searched a music magazine for ideas and decided on “Tennant” because of Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys.

However, when he wanted to register with the Screen Actors’ Guild in the US, they refused to let him keep his stage name unless it matched his legal name — so he had to get his name legally changed.


Amanda Edwards / Getty Images

In a fan Q&A with the Guardian, he said, “Faced with the prospect of working under two different names on either side of the globe, I had to take the plunge and rename myself! So although I always liked the name, I’m now more intimately associated with it than I had ever imagined.”

2.

Cherilyn Sarkisian La Piere Bono Allman — who went by the stage name Cher — adopted the last names of her stepfather, her first husband (Sonny Bono), and her second husband (Gregg Allman).


Matt Winkelmeyer / WireImage / Via Getty

However, by 1978, she was done with having four last names, so she legally changed her name to simply “Cher.”


CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images

3.

Norma Jeane Mortenson (the name on her birth certificate) was baptized under the name Norma Jeane Baker. Then, when she married James Dougherty in 1942, she took his last name.

However, in 1956, she legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe — the stage name she’d already been using for a decade.


Michael Ochs Archives / Via Getty

During her marriage to Arthur Miller, she liked to go by Marilyn Monroe Miller.

4.

Vincent Furnier had to change his band’s name from “the Nazz” to “Alice Cooper” when he discovered that his group’s original name was already in use by Todd Rundgren’s band.


Daniel Knighton / Getty Images

“I said let’s not come up with a name that’s dark, because they’re expecting that. I said, ‘What if we sounded like we were somebody’s aunt?’ It was kind of like the all-American, sweet little old lady name,” he told the Shreveport Times.

As a result, people began to assume that Alice Cooper was his name and kept calling him “Alice,” so he decided to roll with it and legally changed his name.


Scott Legato / Getty Images

“It was a total outrage at the time. Now it’s a household name,” he said.

Only two people still call him Vinnie — his wife and fellow musician, Keith Richards.

5.

Destiny Hope Cyrus grew up with the nickname “Smiley,” which morphed into “Miley” — which she used as her stage name.


Marcelo Hernandez / Getty Images

In 2008, she legally changed her name to Miley Ray Cyrus, adopting a middle name that honored her father, Billy Ray Cryus.


Peacock / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

6.

Throughout his career, Kanye West has been associated with nicknames like “Yeezy” and “Ye”.


Kevin Mazur / WireImage / Via Getty

However, in 2021, he legally changed his name to simply Ye, which he “believes [is] the most commonly used word in the Bible.”


Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic / Via Getty

In a radio interview, he said, “It went from being Kanye, which means the only one, to just Ye being a reflection of our good, our bad, our confused, our everything.”

7.

Edward Abel Smith (who’s famous for being the nephew of billionaire Richard Branson) was known as the fun-loving Ned who didn’t take himself too seriously, so he wanted to change his name to simply “Ned.”


Marc Piasecki / Getty Images

In 2008, he discovered that it wasn’t legally possible to be only “Ned,” so he changed his legal name to Ned Rocknroll.


Alessio Botticelli / GC Images / Via Getty

However, a few years later, his partner Kate Winslet was writing his unique name on their children’s doctors’ forms and asked him, “Honey…are we going to keep going?” Then, he agreed to change his name back to Edward Smith.


Frazer Harrison / Via Getty

She told Jimmy Kimmel Live, “When he changed his name to Rocknroll, I don’t think he had anticipated what might happen if he should have a girlfriend whose name was Kate Winslet and who was quite well-known and therefore the press might kind of not react so well to the fact that she had this boyfriend called then Rocknroll. So, it was a little tricky.”

8.

Entrepreneur and Keeping Up with the Kardashians regular, Jonathan Cheban, built a successful personal brand and dedicated following under the handle “Foodgod” on Instagram.


Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic for ABA

So, in 2019 — after two years of trying — he legally changed his name to Foodgod.


Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images for Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation

Ye originally came up with the name.

9.

For the first part of his career, Steven Georgiou performed under the stage name Cat Stevens.


Gareth Cattermole / Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

However, when he converted to Islam in 1977, he stopped making music and changed both his legal and professional names to Yusuf Islam.


Larry Busacca / Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame

In 2006, he made his pop music comeback under the stage name Yusuf. In 2014, he began going by Yusuf/Cat Stevens.

In recent years, he began performing under the name Yusuf Cat Stevens.

10.

In their early days, all of the Chumbawamba members started using stage names to prevent the unemployment office from finding out they were making records.


Mick Hutson / Redferns / Via Getty

However, only one member got an official name change. By deed poll, Anne Holden changed her name to Alice Nutter — the name of the only middle class woman who was hanged during the Pendle Witch trials.


Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

“Nutter was awkward and I grew up in the shadow of Pendle Hill, so I felt an affinity with her,” she told Robert Endeacott. 

She wrote an unproduced play about the Pendle Witches called The Power.

11.

Early in his career, Robert Allen Zimmerman toyed with the stage names “Elston Gunn” and “Robert Allen,” but he settled on “Bob Dylan” by the time he was 18.


Larry Hulst / Via Getty

In Chronicles, he wrote, “Dylan and Allyn sounded similar: Robert Dylan, Robert Allyn. I couldn’t decide — the letter D came on stronger. But Robert Dylan didn’t look or sound as good as Robert Allyn. People had always called me either Robert or Bobby, but Bobby Dylan sounded to skittish to me, and besides, there was already a Bobby Darin, a Bobby Vee, a Bobby Dydell, a Bobby Neely and a lot of other Bobbys.”

In 1962, around the same time he signed his first management contracts, he legally changed his name to Robert Dylan.


Dave J Hogan / Dave J Hogan / Getty Images

12.

And finally, when Bluesology member Reginald Dwight decided he wanted to be a singer, he chose the stage name Elton John to set himself apart.


Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

The “Elton” came from Elton Dean, his band’s saxophonist. The “John” came from Long John Baldry, the singer the band played backup for.

In 1972, he legally changed his name to Elton Hercules John because of all the unhappy memories he associated with his birth name.


Erika Goldring / Getty Images

His new middle name was inspired by a horse on the TV show Steptoe and Son.

Share:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.