Celebrities are fond of name dropping, to make it clear that they know the most famous of the famous. But there is a whole other type of 'name dropping' that many celebrities have indulged in to give themselves a leg up on being famous themselves. Many celebrities have changed their names for one reason or another, and their original names might surprise you.
One celebrity who has obviously changed her name from her given name is Whoopi Goldberg. When she was born, her given name was Caryn Elaine Johnson, but her mother thought that the name 'Johnson' didn't sound 'Jewish enough to be a star'. As for her first name, Whoopi says that people used to tell her she was like a whoopee cushion, because 'if you get a little gassy, you've got to let it go'. So she put the two names together, became Whoopi Goldberg, and became a star.
Three of the most legendary singers in popular music have names distinctly different from their birth monikers. Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight. When he decided to change his name, he chose 'Elton John' because he wanted to honor saxophone legend Elton Dean as well as Long John Baldry. U2's former front man Bono was born Paul David Hewson. The story goes that, in school, he was given the nickname 'Bono Vox', which is the Latin meaning for 'good voice'. He later shortened it to just Bono, and the rest is history. As for Seal, his story is even more dramatic. His real name reflects his Nigerian lineage―Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel. It's not really a big mystery why he shortened his name!
Michael Caine, one of the most celebrated film stars around the world, was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite. He first wanted to change his stage name to Michael Scott, but then he learned that another actor was already using that name. He was on the phone with his agent, who was pressing him to come up with a name, so he glanced at the theater across the street, and saw 'The Caine Mutiny' on the marquee. So he chose the name 'Michael Caine'. He has often joked that if he had looked the other way, he might have ended up with the name 'Michael One Hundred and One Dalmatians!'
Hollywood legend heartthrob Cary Grant wasn't always known by such a sexy name. Born Archibald Alexander Leach, he wanted to escape his upbringing in the English working class, so he ran away from home. He joined a traveling troupe of acrobats and comedians, and ended up in Hollywood. Paramount Studios offered him a contract, under one condition―that he change his name from Archibald to Cary Lockwood. He agreed to change his name, but negotiated with the studio to agree for him to change it to Cary Grant.
Albert Brooks, believe it or not, was born Albert Einstein. He endured that name all through his first year of college, when he began his career as a stand-up comedian. He decided to choose the family name Brooks, to avoid comparisons and confusion with the legendary scientist named Albert Einstein. When people asked him why he made the change, he would always respond, "Do I even have to answer that?"
There are two celebrities who would most certainly have eluded fame if they hadn't changed their names. Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Rueben Lifshitz. When he was 16 years old, Jerry Lifshitz, Ralph's brother, changed their last name to Lauren. Millions of trendy fashion plates the world over are thankful that they don't have to wear 'a Lifshitz gown' to special events. And Marilyn Manson probably wouldn't have been nearly as intimidating wearing black lipstick if his name was still Brian Hugh Warner.
All of these celebrities clearly had good enough reasons for changing their names. But the celebrity with the best reason of all is entertainer Charo. Her official name is María Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Moquiere de les Esperades Santa Ana Romanguera y de la Najosa Rasten. There's probably no question at all why she preferred a 5-letter single name, after having to write all of those other letters before she became a celebrity!