Stars' Real Names Revealed! You Won't Believe What Their Parents Called Them

How do you get Bono from Paul? Or Sting from Gordon? When it comes to stage names, some stars get really creative

Photo: Evan Agostini/AP; Gregg DeGuire/WireImage; Tommaso Boddi/WireImage; Jeff Vespa/WireImage

In the conference room that launched 1 million entertainment careers, one huge decision was definitely addressed: the star’s name.

In Elton John’s case, Reginald Kenneth Dwight was ditched for a much catchier Elton John, of course. Whoopi Goldberg trumped the actress’s given name Caryn Elaine Johnson (no surprise there!).

The stars we think we know everything about, like Miley Cyrus – who is no stranger to sharing the intimate cleavage selfie – are actually complete strangers to us, with sometimes very ordinary names. Cyrus was born Destiny Hope but legally changed her name to Miley (in honor of her nickname Smiley) in 2008.

Here’s a list of the real names of our most famous celebrity friends – all of whom we hardly knew. Sniff.

It’s easy to figure out why the singer – born Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor in New Zealand – uses this short and sweet stage name. Deejays would definitely use too much airtime pronouncing it.

Ben Affleck
The Oscar winner’s given name, Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt, has special meaning: Geza was a family friend’s name and Boldt is his mother’s maiden name.

Helen Mirren
The addition and removal of a few consonants from the actress’s birth name, Helen Lydia Mironoff, clearly spelled success.

Mila Kunis
The change from Milena Markovna Kunis to Mila Kunis is the cure for can’t-remember-anybody’s-name-itis, an ailment that affects so many of us.

Reese Witherspoon
When your parents give you three first names (in Witherspoon’s case: Laura Jeanne Reese, the last being her mom’s maiden name), it’s only natural to gravitate toward one. Good choice, Reese.

Katy Perry
In Hollywood, planning is key. Perry, born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, changed her surname to her mom’s maiden name in order to avoid being confused with the actress, Kate Hudson.

Natalie Portman
The Oscar-winning actress used her given name, Natalie Hershlag, when she studied at Harvard in the early 2000s.

Julianne Moore
Long before she appeared on As the World Turns, the actress was born Julie Anne Smith. Her father’s name is Peter Moore Smith.

Jamie Foxx
The comedian told David Letterman last year that he changed his name from Eric Bishop to something more androgynous because females had a better chance of getting stage time at a few L.A. comedy clubs when he was just starting out.

Nicki Minaj
The singer, born Onika Tanya Maraj, told OUT magazine that a former manager convinced her to change her name to Minaj early on, and that she hated it.

Oprah Winfrey
The media mogul was supposed to be named for Orpah in the Bible, but a spelling mistake on her birth certificate changed it to Oprah and it stuck.

Tina Fey
Truth: Tina rolls off the tongue easier than Elizabeth Stamatina Fey.

Born Paul David Hewson in Dublin, Ireland, the singer adopted Bono in the 1970s after a friend supposedly nicknamed him Bonavox, a Latin phrase meaning “Good voice.”

A musician from the Phoenix Jazzmen renamed the singer – born Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner – Sting when he spotted him wearing a black and yellow sweater, and thought he resembled a bee.

Lady Gaga
The pop star, born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, told the BBC that friends created her stage name in a nod to the Queen song “Radio Gaga.”

Portia de Rossi
The Australian actress legally changed her name from Amanda Lee Rogers to her stage name at age 15, telling The Advocate, “In retrospect, I think it was largely due to my struggle about being gay. Everything just didn’t fit, and I was trying to find things I could identify myself with, and it started with my name.”

Bruno Mars
The singer, born Peter Gene Hernandez, told GQ magazine in 2013 that he scored the nickname Bruno as a toddler because he looked like wrestler Bruno Sammartino. Mars came later.

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