6 Surprising Real Names of Celebrities

Call it a pseudonym, a stage name, or a nom de plume—it all comes down to the same thing. These celebrities are best known by a name they weren’t born with. How many of these did you know already?

Whoopi Goldberg

Okay, you could probably guess that no one actually named their child “whoopi.” But the comedian and talk show host chose her famous stage name for a bizarre reason. Caryn Elaine Johnson changed her name to Whoopi after the flatulent gag gift, the whoopie cushion. The “Goldberg” was her mom’s suggestion.

Sir Ben Kingsley

The classy British actor and star of Iron Man 3 was born as Krishna Pandit Bhanji. He’s half Indian, and his name reflects his heritage. However, he decided that a more conventionally British name would be better for his acting career and chose Ben after his dad’s nickname and Kingsley in honor of his grandfather.

Carmen Electra

Tara Patrick isn’t a bad name, but when Prince himself tells you to change it, you follow his advice. In 1991, he told her that she looked like an Electra.

Julianne Moore

The redheaded Oscar-winning actress was born Julie Smith, but she hit a snag when she went to register for her SAG card. The Screen Actor’s Guild already had a Julie Smith on the roster, so she ended up changing her name to Julianne Moore.

Emma Stone did something similar, since her birth name of “Emily Stone” was already registered to someone else.

Nicki Minaj

The musician was born Onika Tanya Maraj, but her first producer insisted that she change it to Nicki Minaj. Apparently she’s always hated the moniker, but it’s too late now to change it!

Portia De Rossi

The Arrested Development star—and wife of Ellen DeGeneres—changed her name when she was just 15 years old. She decided that plain old “Amanda Lee Rogers” didn’t suit her, so she named herself after a character from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice and tacked on an Italian last name for good measure.