…and the surprising stories behind their stage names!

You might think you’ve never heard of Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, but perhaps the name Michael Caine rings a bell? You may swear up and down you’ve never seen a movie starring Mark Sinclair Vincent, but I’m willing to bet you’re familiar with The Fast and the Furious star Vin Diesel. Have you ever heard a song by Declan Patrick McManus? No? Maybe because you’re more used to the stage name Elvis Costello. It’s quite a common practice for celebrities to go by names that differ from the moniker given to them at birth, but not every stage name is as obvious as Ice Cube or 50 Cent. Take a look at the real names behind some of your favorite A-list celebrities.

Louis C.K.
The stand-up comedian and actor was born Louis Szekely which is pronounced “See-kay.” His stage name is actually just an easier way to say his last name! Clever, huh?

Jamie Foxx
Eric Marlon Bishop changed his name to the gender-ambiguous Jamie in order to get a better set time when he was doing stand up as women were often called first. Adding the last name Foxx was a reference to one of Jaime’s favorite sitcom stars, Sanford & Son’s Red Foxx.

Stevie Wonder
The legendary Stevie Wonder was born Steveland Hardaway Judkins. As a child, many people were astounded by his ability to play numerous instruments and sing at the same time which led to them calling Stevie “A Little Wonder”.

Gene Simmons
KISS rockstar Gene Simmons was born Chaim Witz in Israel. After immigrating to America, Chaim changed his name to the easier to pronounce Eugene and took his mother’s surname of Klein. Eventually Gene Klein adopted “Gene Simmons” as a stage name.

Bruno Mars
The Grammy-award winner Peter Gene Hernandez was given the name Bruno by his father as he was a chubby baby and resembled the wrestler Bruno Sammartino. The singer later added Mars to the end as he reportedly said, “A lot of girls say I’m out of this world, so I was like I guess I’m from Mars.”

Marilyn Monroe
Few know that this platinum blonde bombshell was born Norma Jeane Mortenson. She was later baptised as Norma Jeane Baker and eventually began modeling under the names Jean Norman and Mona Monroe. She only legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe in March 1956, when she was already a star.

Miley Cyrus
Although this superstar was named Destiny Hope Cyrus at birth, her nickname “Smiley Miley” caught on so much that she legally changed her name to Miley Ray Cyrus at 15 years old.

Emma Stone
Emily Jean Stone changed her first name to Emma because of her obsession with the Spice Girls, particularly Baby Spice whose real name is Emma Lee Bunton.

Whoopi Goldberg
Why did Caryn Johnson change her name to Whoopi Goldberg? According to an interview with Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live, the reason was because she’s a “farter.”

Reese Witherspoon
The Legally Blonde star and Oscar winner has what is perhaps the most simple stage name! She was actually born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon with Reese being her mother’s maiden name.