By Dknight2000 (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
Some movie stars change their names to avoid their being confused with other actors, some celebrities have changed their names to protect the privacy of their families, some changed their names to hide their ancestry, and Jackie Chan changed his name nearly half a dozen times! Here are ten famous actors that you may not have realised changed their names from what their parents gave them.
1. Dirk Benedict
Star of the A Team and Battlestar Galactica, Dirk Benedict’s real name is Dirk Niewoehner. There can be little doubt that he changed name because Niewoehner looks unpronounceable (I’ve been trying to work it out fir ten minutes now!). Apparently, he chose the name Benedict after he ate some eggs Benedict on his way to signing with the Screen Actors Guild.
2. Eric Bana
The Australian star of ‘Chopper’ and Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk’, Eric Bana, was named Eric Banadinovich by his Croatian parents. He started his career by doing impressions of Columbo, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone on the Australian TV show ‘Full Frontal’. The reason for his name change was simply that Banadinovich was too long.
By Wikiwatcher1, via Wikimedia Commons
3. Boris Karloff
Horror actor Boris Karloff was famous for playing Frankenstein’s monster in three classic 1930’s horror movies amongst many other roles. His original name was William Henry Pratt, but it is believed that he changed it, because his family would have been embarrassed by his choice of career. There are a number of theories about where he got the name from, but the most likely is that Boris sounded exotic, and Karloff, was the name of a Slavic branch of his family tree.
4. Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage got his idea for his stage name from the Marvel Comics character, Power Man. Cage became Cage, because his real name is Nicolas Kim Coppola and his uncle is Francis Ford Coppola. Nick wanted to make it on his own and not be accused of gaining his fame on the back of his famous uncle’s name.
5. Michael Caine
Michael Caine is said to have changed his name because audiences thought his real name, Maurice Micklewhite, sounded funny. He originally changed his name to Michael Scott, but there was already a Michael Scott registered with the actor’s union, Equity. He chose Caine as his surname after he saw the movie The Caine Mutiny was running at a cinema.
By Colin Swan , via Wikimedia Commons
6. Woody Allen
Woody Allen was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg, but in the 1950’s, it was usual for Jewish performers to change their names to make them easier to pronounce and to avoid bigotry. He legally changed his name to Heywood Allen and later began to call himself Woody. He says that the Woody as a childhood nickname that he was called because he was good at playing stickball with a wooden bat.
7. Charles Bronson
Charles Bronson was born to Lithuanian parents and the actor’s real name is Charles Dennis Buchinsky. Tough guy actor Bronson thought that Buchinsky sounded too Russian, so he changed to Bronson after the street in which the gates of Paramount Studios are located, Bronson Avenue.
8. Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan has had quite a few name changes in the course of his career. His real name is Chan Kong-sang, but that was changed Yuen Lo, in honour of his martial arts master. Chan then changed his name again to Chan Yuen Lung, while he worked as a stunt man. He was also called Sing Lung, which means ‘become the dragon’, to highlight his similarity to Brice Lee. His final choice of name was based on a nickname ‘Little Jack’ that he was given while he worked on a construction site in Australia.
9. Tony Curtis
Tony Curtis, who had served on submarines in the Second World War, changed his name from Bernard Schwartz because Schwartz sounded too German. He picked the name of Tony, originally Anthony, from the first novel that he ever read, ‘Anthony Adverse’. The name of Curtis came from the English version of ‘Kurtz’, which was a family name of his mother’s.
David Tennant, the best Doctor Who of the recent crop, had to change his name because there was already a David John McDonald registered with Equity. He took his name, not from the Scottish extra strong lager as you might have thought, but from the Pet Shop Boy, Neil Tenant.
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