It’s all in a name!


My name is Lee Sinden. Is this a good name? I like it and have never been one of these people that wanted to be known by any other name. My middle name is Andrew, but I have never thought of using this as my first name like some people do. There have been many nicknames along the way, to such an extent that when I returned from university I didn’t recognise my own name when it was called out to me. Does my name have star quality? What would it look like in big flashing lights or in big letters on a huge billboard? Would I be prepared to change my name to enhance my career? I think my family would be upset by this. Can you make it in Hollywood with a boring name? Tom Hanks is a pretty standard name and he has made more money then anyone, so surely if you are talented enough then you can outshine your name. The reason I write about this is because so many stars have changed their names in order to enhance their career, maybe avoid mispronounciation, maybe for political reasons or maybe because the name just didn’t fit.
Walter Matthau is a good example of a name change and understandably so, one because many couldn’t pronounce it, two because it would take up most of the billboard and three possibly because during the time of his career people were less tolerant of foreigners. He changed his name by shortening it from Walter Matuschanskayasky. Did the world war have any baring on whether a name was accepted? Tony Curtis’ real name was Bernard Schwartz, which sounds pretty German to me, which may have met a lot of resentment for an actor starting out just after the war. This is the same for Fred Astaire, maybe more so as his career coincided with ww 2. His real name was Frederick Austerlitz, which again doesn’t really have an American feel to it.

Some names are just plain boring “NOW SEE WALTER WILLISON IN HIS NEW ACTION HERO ESCAPADE AS HE SAVES THE WORLD ONCE AGAIN”. It really doesn’t work “Hollywood’s darlings of tinseltown hit the red carpet tonight, Walter Willison and Demetria Gene Guynes were the highlight as they stepped out together to wave to their adoring fans” I’m not sure they would make such an adoring couple with names like that. To be fair their marriage ended in divorce, but I don’t think Bruce Willis would have been quite the action hero and Demi may not have had so much fun caressing that clay pot as Demetria, so the name change was a wise decision. Frances Gumm dazzles in A Star is Born, Seth Ward in his emotionally charged Rebel Without a Cause, Maurice Micklewhite tips you over the edge in new bank heist The Italian Job. None of these seem so appealing under their real names.
I am no macho man and could never pull off a role as an action hero or tough cowboy, but surely I would have a better chance than a guy named Marrion? Sounds like a big girls blouse to me. I would never have said that to his face however because there would be a good chance he would knock my teeth out. One of the toughest, manliest actors around actually had a girl’s name, yes John Wayne’s real name was Marrion. Now remember this because it’s a firm favourite on pub quizzes. I really can’t imagine “The Duke” having quite the same career using that name.
What is the first thing you think of when you are given the name Norma? I might be wrong, but I think of a dear little old lady with a tea cosey on her head, thick glasses, baggy tights, walking with a walking stick with a blue tinge to her hair. Now if she sang me happy birthday and blue me a kiss I wouldn’t be suitably impressed nor would I want her dress to blow up to reveal big granny pants. So when I say Norma was a blonde bombshell, with a curvey body, rich red lips who every man drooled over and every woman envied, you’d be surprised? Well no, I doubt you would because most people know that Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean even if they only know this due to the famous song Candle in the Wind. So it goes to show that there is a lot in a name and it could make the difference between you becoming a major star or one that never quite made it. What would your star name be? Or do you already have star quality? Below are a list of stars who changed their names and went on to make big money and even win an Oscar or two.

Anne Bancroft- Anna Maria Louisa Italiano
Ben Kinsley- Krishna Banji
Bridgette Bardot- Camille Javal
Bruce Willis- Walter Willison
Cyd Charisse- Tula Ellice Finklea
Demi Moore- Demetria Gene Guynes
Diana Does- Diana Fluck
Doris Day- Doris Van Kappelhoff
James Dean- Seth Ward
Judy Garland- Frances Gunn
Michael Caine- Maurice Micklewhite
Whoopi Goldberg- Caryn Johnson
Fred Astair- Frederick Austerlitz
Walter Matthau- Walter Matuschanskayasky
Kirk Douglas- Issur Danielovitch
Jennifer Aniston- Jennifer Anastassakis
Gregory Peck- Eldred Gregory Peck
John Wayne- Marrion Morrison
Tom Cruise- Thomas Mapother
Tony Curtis- Bernard Schwartz
Marilyn Monroe- Norma Jean Mortenson


8 thoughts on “It’s all in a name!

  1. stephili10

    Okay I knew about John Wayne! A lot of these though I had no idea! I don’t think I would change my name.. “Stephanie Nicole” (obviously I’ll be changing the last name) It’s who I am and couldn’t imagine being anything else unless I was going by, “Boo” or “Stephili” lol.. I think you are right. If you have talent, it shouldn’t matter! BTW Anna Nicole Smith was Vickie Lynn Hogan! haha ..

  2. Great idea for a post! There is also some kind of official rule which means that no actor/general famous person can have the same name, which is why Katy Perry is called that, as she shares her real name with Kate Hudson! There are more examples, but I forget them!
    Ironically Judy Garland’s real name, Frances Gunn, is an amazing male actor hero name, in my opinion! Maybe if I decide to become a movie star (how hard can it be?) I will call myself Frances Gunn… or Francois Gunn… or is that too much? Watch this space! haha

  3. That would be an amazing! Sadly it’s a typo and should read Gumm. I’ll get round to changing that. I hope to write more soon. I need to create some ideas as I can’t get out to the cinema very much at the moment due to a fractured knee,

  4. This was an enjoyable article and it set me off doing some research of my own. Thanks to you I now know Michael Douglas’s old man Kirk was christened Issur Danielovitch, although I didn’t know Michael Keaton’s birth name is actually Michael Douglas. Confusing.
    I think my favourite name changes of all are debonair Cary Grant and sultry Lauren Bacall. Somehow I can’t imagine them being billed as Archibald Leach and Betty Joan Perske!

      • I’ve been looking through your posts and I like what I’ve read so far, consider yourself followed.

        PS: Don’t feel any need to follow me back, I don’t expect reciprocal follows.

      • Thank you! I have followed you. I find it interesting that you have dedicated your blog to two actresses. Michelle pfeiffer in particular who is a very underrated actress.

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