1. Alan Alda
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MASH’s all-american Hawekeye Pierce might have seen his career take a different turn if he used his given name – Alphonso d’Abruzzo. Who knows? He might have gone on to star in Scorsese’s mob movies, instead of being nominated for an Oscar for his role in “The Aviator.”
2. Michael Caine
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Michael Caine exudes British charm and cool and has a name to match. Maurice Micklewhite, on the other hand, doesn’t.
3. Carmen Electra
Originally both Tara Patrick, Ms. Electra choose a name that, while not shocking, definitely has a bit more sizzle.
4. Whoopi Goldberg
Caryn Johnson chose her stage name as a reference to her unique skills at gas-passing – like a human whoopie cushion. Her mother thought that the last name might help her to be more accepted in the entertainment industry.
5. Hulk Hogan
While Hulk Hogan was a star in the ring and on screen, it’s less clear what might have happened if he remained Terry Jean Bollette.
6. Ben Kingsley
Famous for a range of roles, including one as Gandhi, Sir Ben Kingsley actually changed his name from Krishna Pandit Bhanji. It turns out that his father was originally of Indian descent.
7. Spike Lee
Known for this ground breaking films and edgy attitude, Spike Lee is appropriately known. His original name, Shelton Jackson Lee, sounds like more someone who would do his homework at New York University’s Tisch film school.
8. Helen Mirren
Dame Helen Mirren doesn’t only have an impressive list of roles on stage and screen. She also has a unique and lyrical given name – Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov.
9. Demi Moore
Demetria Guynes doesn’t quite have the same ring as Demi Moore, nor is it as easy to pronounce. Demi isn’t just a name-changer herself, though.
Two of her husbands – Christopher Kutcher and Walter Willis – also traded in their given first names for more screen-friendly ones.
10. Joaquin Phoenix
With his meteoric rise to the top of Hollywood after roles in films like Walk the Line and Gladiator, Joaquin’s name seems especially well-chosen. It’s doubly so when you consider that his given name – Joaquin Rafael Bottom – appears to have a much less positive connotation.
11. Meg Ryan
Perhaps Ms. Ryan’s short, cute name played into her becoming billed as America’s Sweetheart. Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra, on the other hand, seems destined for more serious roles.