12 Surprising Stories Behind Famous Stage Names 

Hugh Landman
Updated June 14, 2019 15.6k views 12 items

What's in a name? For an actor, actress, or pop star, that name is a brand, identity, and image - so, to answer the question, a lot. Perhaps that's why there are so many celebrities with stage names. And the surprising stage name stories behind those famed monikers can be fascinating. The stories behind famous stage names reveal personal details about difficult childhoods, or reflect the fear that a narrow-minded public would not accept an actor's ethnicity. Of course, there are funny stories, too, involving wordplay and comic book superheroes.

How do celebrities pick their names? In some cases, how stars got their stage names is the stuff of Hollywood lore. Plenty of fans know that Nicholas Cage was born a Coppola - but have you heard the wonderfully geeky inspiration for his professional moniker? And then there's Katy Perry; she shares her birth name with another notable celeb. The stories behind these famous stage names shed new light on some of your favorite stars, whether their new identities are more practical or downright silly.

Nicolas Cage is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 12 Surprising Stories Behind Famous Stage Names
Photo: Georges Biard/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Nicolas Kim Coppola is probably unknown to most people, because he goes by the screen name Nicolas Cage. The actor didn't want the fame of his uncle, director Francis Ford Coppola, to influence his career, so he picked a pseudonym. He chose Cage as a last name in honor of Luke Cage, the Marvel hero.

Age: 55

Birthplace: Long Beach, California, United States of America

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Tom Cruise is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 12 Surprising Stories Behind Famous Stage Names
Photo:  360b/sadsadas/sadsadsad

Action star Tom Cruise was born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV in Syracuse, NY. He decided to become an actor at the age of 16, and changed his name, too - his parents got divorced, and his new name reflected how he didn't identify with his father. Whether due to the name change or not, Cruise has seen tremendous success in his career; he's worth nearly half a billion dollars.

Age: 56

Birthplace: Syracuse, New York, United States of America

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Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 12 Surprising Stories Behind Famous Stage Names
Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License

One night at a comedy show, Eric Morlon Bishop walked up to the signup sheet and wrote "Jamie Foxx," thinking that a unisex name would get him chosen to perform. It worked, and the rest is Oscar-winning history.

Age: 51

Birthplace: Texas, USA, Terrell

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Katy Perry is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 12 Surprising Stories Behind Famous Stage Names
Photo: DFree/Shutterstock

Katy Perry was born Katheryn Hudson, but changed her name for an obvious reason: she didn't want to be confused with the actress Kate Hudson. The new name trick seems to have worked, as Perry has played everywhere from the Super Bowl to Saturday Night Live, and has earned record-setting numbers of hits.

Age: 34

Birthplace: Santa Barbara, California, United States of America

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