Most of us had names on the brain when we were expecting. Picking a baby name is exciting! However, one expectant pop icon wanted to settle on her own name before baby’s arrival. Last Friday, Stacy Ann Ferguson legally became Fergie Duhamel.
When I was a kid I watched pretty much every episode of Kids Incorporated. Since Stacy was my age she was my favorite on the show. When Stacy evolved into the force, the Fergie, that she is today, it was as if someone I went to elementary school with had decided to tape over their past. Fergie? How can you be FERGIE? You are Stacy!
But I get it. In the years between Kids Incorporated and The Black Eyed Peas, things were not easy for her. In a revealing interview with Oprah in 2012, Fergie shared about her battle with drug addiction and how finding religion helped clean her up.
I can imagine letting go of the name “Stacy Ann Ferguson” is a bit like shedding skin. I can also imagine how empowering it was to make this legal change before becoming a mother.
So many celebrities have changed their name. For some it’s a calculated career move, for others it’s just to try something exotic and new. And some celebrities have had their actual name mispronounced so often that they just decided to go with the flow. We have come to know tons of celebrities by their chosen name, but what about their name before they were trying to be stars?
25 Celebrity Name Changers:
Fergie 1 of 25
I am probably the only person who still considered Fergie to be Stacy. But I can't be the only person who knows the theme song to Kids Incorporated, right? K-I-D-S! The change to Fergie was a good move.
Bruno Mars 2 of 25
Bruno is the son of a Puerto Rican Jewish percussionist and a Philippine dancer. He was also born and raised in Hawaii. When he first started his career everyone wanted him to sing exclusively Latin music. In a GQ article he explains, "The best way to avoid being stereotyped by race is to sound as though you come from a different planet altogether." So Hernandez became Mars, and he used an old childhood nickname, Bruno, to complete the transformation.
Carmen Electra 3 of 25
Carmen got a job with Prince in 1991, and he is the one who told the performer to change her name. He simply told her she "looked like a Carmen." I think pairing Carmen with Electra is where the magic really happened. It has always sounded like a superhero name to me.
David Bowie 4 of 25
Bowie performed under his original name in the early sixties, but then changed it to avoid confusion with the Monkees' Davy Jones. Bowie is a kind of knife. This name change was sharp and brilliant. It was the domino that began a long career of creative choices and rule breaking.
Elton John 5 of 25
In 1972, Elton legally became Elton Hercules John. The Biography Channel explains, "The name came from Elton Dean, a saxophonist, and the late Long John Baldry, a British blues musician. Hercules was the name of the horse in the British television sitcom Steptoe and Son." I can still imagine Elton making waves as a singer named Reggie, but renaming yourself seems to be the defining prologue for so many amazing musical careers.
Demi Moore 6 of 25
Demi is actually just a nickname for Demetria (a Greek name that means "follower of Demeter, who was the goddess of the harvest). Guynes was Demi's maiden name before she married musician Freddy Moore in 1980. Hanging on to a shorter name as her career grew was a smart move. According to a study, women with two or three syllable names are more likely to find success in their careers.
Freddie Mercury 7 of 25
The name Freddie was a childhood nickname given to the English-Persian musician when he was in boarding school in Bombay. As far as where Mercury came from? Only Freddie knows. He was an out-of-this-world kind of performer, so it really made sense.
Helen Mirren 8 of 25
Helen's name change story involves Nicholas II, the Bolsheviks, and a Russian grandfather who found himself stuck in Britain and forced to make a new life for himself. It is a story with so many layers even Helen didn't know them all until the UK's Daily Mail tracked down living Russian relatives who had letters to fill in the gaps.
Jamie Foxx 9 of 25
The story behind Jamie's name change is both a calculated career move and a tribute. When the actor was just starting out as a young comic, he realized women were being called more often to the stage for open mic nights. He decided he would give himself a gender neutral sounding name to see if that upped his chances for getting to perform more. He selected "Foxx" as an homage to his icon, Redd Foxx.
Judy Garland 10 of 25
Judy was born into a showbiz family and as a child performed with her two older sisters in "The Gumm Sisters." After the family moved from Minnesota to California, they were told to look for a new name as audience members kept referring to the trio as "The Glum Sisters." A fellow Vaudeville star selected the name "Garland," and Judy picked her own new first name after a song she liked.
Jodie Foster 11 of 25
Jodie probably changed her name from Alicia to Jodie because she liked the sound of it. However, in a 1997 tell-all, Jodie's brother, Buddy, shares that the Academy Award winning actress took on the name Jodie as a tribute to their mother's girlfriend. "Jodie" was a nod to "Jo-D," a nickname for Josephina Dominguez.
Katy Perry 12 of 25
Katy didn't want to enter the pop world as "Katy Hudson" and have there be any confusion with an actress of a similar name. Her name change was an easy one. She simply took on her mother's maiden name of Perry.
Lady Gaga 13 of 25
There are three different Lady Gaga name change stories floating around. One version credits music producer Rob Fusari (and former boyfriend of the performer) with coming up with the name based on a love for Queen and an autocorrect text message. Another version credits Gaga herself with anointing herself with the new moniker. The amusing version is the one from the New York Post. They insist "Lady Gaga" exists because of a marketing meeting.
Lea Michele 14 of 25
This is another easy celebrity name change. Lea probably left off her last name in order to keep a nice, melodic sound to her name. I also imagine growing up with a last name containing the word "fat" may not have been pleasant.
Meg Ryan 15 of 25
Meg is obviously a nickname for Margaret, so that name change is an easy leap. But where did "Ryan" come from? No idea. The name change happened after Meg dropped out of NYU and started to earnestly pursue a professional acting career. Meg obviously does give consideration to names, as she renamed her infant daughter from Charlotte to Daisy. Meg said, "I thought she was Charlotte, and she's just not."
Michael Caine 16 of 25
Michael has said he was told by his agent he needed to find a stage name if he wanted to find success. After performing in a few plays under his real name, he then took the last name Caine from the movie The Caine Mutiny. Success soon followed!
Miley Cyrus 17 of 25
The actress and musician was just 15 years old when she officially changed her name from Destiny to Miley. Miley came from a childhood nickname "smiley." Her new name legally became Miley Ray Cyrus in 2008.
Olivia Wilde 18 of 25
Olivia changed her last name when she was a teenager. Every interview or comment I have read about the name change simply says she made the change "for acting purposes" — and that greatly amuses me. She selected the last name Wilde as a nod to Oscar Wilde. She has said she is always so surprised when articles about her use a play on her stage name in the title, as in "We are wild about Wilde." But I bet she is glad they aren't using her real last name for a play on words. And that is all I have to say about that...
Oprah 19 of 25
This one is a bit of a stretch as the original name never actually made it to the birth certificate. Oprah's intended name was "Orpah," which is from the Book of Ruth. However the person who wrote the name down on her birth certificate misspelled it and, according to People, "the name stuck."
Portia de Rossi 20 of 25
Portia changed her name legally when she was 15 years old. Portia talks about why she decided to make a change in an interview with 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." She picked her new first name from the play The Merchant of Venice, and the "Italian sounding last name" because it sounded exotic.
Reese Witherspoon 21 of 25
Yes, Reese, we know who you are! Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon simply dropped her first two, um, first names and used her middle name as her professional name when she started acting.
Sigourney Weaver 22 of 25
Height was the reason behind Sigourney's name change. The actress has said that as early as age 11 she felt awkward and gawky for being so tall. She wanted a name that fit. She told The Sun, "I was about 6 feet tall and called Susie or Sue. I felt too tall to have a short name like that and saw 'Sigourney' in F. Scott Fitzgerald's book The Great Gatsby."
Stevie Wonder 23 of 25
Berry Gordy, who was the founder of Motown Records, is credited with not only discovering Stevie, but also with giving him his stage name. Stevie was not even 11 years old when Berry first saw him pick up every instrument in a recording studio and play it. Berry remarked, "He's a wonder! A little wonder." For the first part of his career, he was known as Little Stevie Wonder.
Tori Amos 24 of 25
Tori has never liked to go by the name Myra as she always associated it with Myra Hindley, a notorious murderer from the early '60s. Instead the singer-songwriter went by the name Ellen for many years. Last year she legally changed her name to Tori, but will still allow her niece and nephews to call her Aunt Ellen, as they knew her as that before they knew her as Tori. The story has always been that a boyfriend told her she "looked like a Tori."
Whoopi Goldberg 25 of 25
Earlier this year Whoopi answered a caller on Bravo's Watch What Happens who had a question about her name. She told the caller, "I'm a farter. You know, when you work in the theater sometimes, you do quick changes and you're running around and, sometimes you're just letting go. And it became, that was the joke: Whoopi." She has said elsewhere that she decided to use the last name "Goldberg" saying she has Jewish ancestors and that it is a family name.
Source for original names: Wikipedia
Image Credits: @Fergie and PR Photos
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