ByTrevor Norkey, writer at
Writer, filmmaker, actor and film enthusiast.
Trevor Norkey

Pen names are a celebrity tradition that have been around for centuries. Constantly, famous people are going under names that aren't actually their own. Mark Twain's real name was actually Samuel Clemens, and J. K. Rowling's real name is actually just Joanne Rowling – she doesn't even have a middle name.

Believe it or not, these pen and stage names still exist today. Constantly celebrities want to go by a name different from their own, or similar to their own, in order to gain popularity. Often this is because they have a 'boring' and ordinary first name like John, or sometimes they even want to go full Hannah Montana and have two entirely separate identities.

Here are 10 celebrities whose real names are actually different from what you know them by.

1. Stanley Martin Lieber

That's right, Stan the Man's real name is not actually Stan Lee (or it kind of is, as his first name is Stanley). When working for Marvel comics, Stanley decided that the name Stan Lee flows a bit better than Stanley Lieber. Overall, this plan must have worked out as his name is now a beloved fandom icon even in his '90s! Nice work, Stanley, you really pulled it off.

2. John William Ferrell

Will Ferrell's first name isn't actually Will - it's John! However, Ferrell - like many other people - decided to go by his middle name his entire life instead of his first. Even though he goes by Will Ferrell, his legal name still remains to this day as John William Ferrell - he never legally changed it.

3. Katy Hudson

The pop icon Katy Perry was actually born Katy Hudson. The change in the singer's name was to serve two purposes: First, Katy Perry sounds a lot more catchy than Katy Hudson, and second, she didn't want to be confused with actress Kate Hudson.

4. Joaquín Rafael Bottom

If I say Joaquín Phoenix, you probably know who I am talking about, but if I say Joaquín Rafael Bottom, you probably get rather confused. That's because Joaquín Phoenix was actually born Joaquín Rafael Bottom, but changed his name simply to Joaquín Phoenix to match the last name of the rest of his family. This probably helped his career a lot because people managed to match his name with his late brother River Phoenix.

5. Neta-Lee Herschlag

Neta-Lee Herschlag's (Natalie Portman's) citizenship is between the United States and Israel. Because of this, she was born Neta-Lee Herschlag to match her Hebrew heritage. When Portman realized she needed a more American name to grow more in Hollywood, she went with Natalie (the simplified Neta-Lee) Portman (the maiden name of her grandmother). That's a lot easier of a name to remember.

6. Michael John Douglas

Now I know what you're thinking: "Why is he putting Michael Keaton's image for Michael Douglas?" This is because Michael Keaton's real name is actually Michael Douglas. When he entered his early theater career, he decided to create the stage name Michael Keaton to avoid confusion with the other famous actor. He really saved Hollywood a lot of confusion, especially if those two ever starred in a movie together.

7. Carlos Irwin Estévez

The Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen's real name actually isn't Charlie Sheen – it's Carlos Irwin Estévez. It is part of his family's heritage. In fact, his father, who is also an actor, Martin Sheen (who played Uncle Ben in The Amazing Spider-Man) is actually named Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez. But really, when it comes to Hollywood, the name Carlos Irwin Estévez is probably not 'winning.'

8. Terry Jean Bollette

So if this one came as an enormous shock, you have to ask yourself this: what parent would actually name their child Hulk? Hulk Hogan was only Terry's ring name. However, when he began to explore outside of wrestling by becoming a musician and even having his own reality show, the name stuck.

9. Elizabeth Stamatina Fey

Tina Fey, best known for her roles in Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock is actually named Elizabeth Stamatina Fey. The name "Tina" is actually rooted from her middle name, Stamatina. However, Fey actually managed to find a way to work the rest of her name in her career, as her character in 30 Rock is named Liz, the shortened version of her first name Elizabeth.

10. Maurice Micklewhite

Sir. Michael Caine, the legendary British actor, is actually Sir. Maurice Micklewhite. His stage name does sound a lot better, if you ask me. And let's be honest, Sir. Maurice Micklewhite sounds like the name of a character in a Monty Python movie - no offense to anyone named Micklewhite, of course.

Even when you think you know everything there is to know about a celebrity, you really don't. Often times, celebrities will have to live two lives - one that is public, and one that is personal. And unless you know that celebrity on a very personal level, you probably don't know everything.


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