Many classic stars have done whatever they felt was necessary to kickstart their Hollywood careers! Icons including Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Dean Martin and more changed their names for the stage.
Back during Hollywood’s Golden Age, it seemed to be a trend to switch your name for fame. On February 23, 1956, Marilyn famously swapped her name from Norma Jeane Mortenson to Marilyn Monroe. However, she had been using the stage name for years before legally making the change.
Similarly, Judy changed her name from Frances Ethel Gumm for more success in the spotlight. The Wizard of Oz actress was part of a vaudeville group called The Gumm Sisters early on in her career with her two older sisters, Mary and Dorothy.
In late 1943, they changed their group name to the Garland Sisters. Although it’s unclear exactly why, some theories suggest that they got it from the drama critic Robert Garland. Others have suggested it was inspired by Carole Lombard’s character Lily Garland in the film Twentieth Century.
Judy’s daughter Lorna Luft believes the group chose their new name after actor George Jessell told them they “looked prettier than a garland of flowers,” per Collider. After that, Judy changed her first name from Frances to Judy, which was inspired by a popular Hoagy Carmichael song. The Golden Globe winner went on to have a tremendous career as a performer up until her death in 1969.
In the mid-’60s, Martin Sheen made his Broadway debut under the stage name that his son Charlie Sheen later adopted. The West Wing actor was born Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez, the son of Spanish and Irish immigrants. While he has been billed under his stage name for six decades, Martin told Closer in June 2022 that he never legally changed his name.
“It’s still Ramon Estévez on my birth certificate. It’s on my marriage license, my passport, driver’s license,” he revealed. “Sometimes you get persuaded when you don’t have enough insight or even enough courage to stand up for what you believe in, and you pay for it later. But, of course, I’m only speaking for myself.”
Several other stars adopted stage names, following the lead of Hollywood icons, past and present. Diane Keaton shared the reason she decided to go by a different name in a June 2017 interview with the Irish Examiner.
“My name is Diane Hall and what happened was I had to change my name when I joined Actors’ Equity, which is our union because there was a Diane Hall,” she explained. “So, I picked my mother’s maiden name, which was Keaton.”
Keep scrolling to find out which Hollywood icons changed their names.
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