Guess I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with names. Especially interesting names. My name is not interesting…Matt. To be more specific, I’ve always had a fascination with people who have had to…or chosen to…change their names. There is quite a litany of famous people who have altered their moniker in an attempt to sound less Jewish, Italian, or whatever. Here is a perfunctory list of some of my favorites. Enjoy.
15. Alan Alda – born Alphonso Joseph D’Abruzzo. Maybe back in the day it was uncool to have such an Italian sounding name, but now…I want to claim this name as my own. Does it work like website domain names? Can I just buy it from him?
14. Hal Linden – born Harold Lipshitz. I really cannot question his decision here.
13. Englebert Humperdink – Born Arnold Dorsey. This one is odd for 2 reasons…first, there already existed a German composer with the name Englebert Humperdink (for real)…second, who the hell would change their name TO Englebert Humperdink?!!
12. Me’Shell Ndegeocello – Born Michelle Lynn Johnson. Maybe there is something way too mundane about the Johnson surname, I don’t know…certainly her new name is infinitely more recognizable, but without sounding crass, I assume most people cannot pronounce it, so simply refer to her as that bald black chic who sang with John Mellencamp.
11. Whoopi Goldberg – born Caryn Johnson. I suppose she didn’t experience enough bigotry as a black woman, so she had to saddle herself with a jewish last name. The only thing left is to convert to Islam.
10. Enya – Born Eithne Patricia Ni Bhraonain. How bout those whacky Celtic/Welsh names?! Really…check out some of those letter combos in her last name. Yet, something tells me, that whole long name is still pronounced just ‘Enya’.
9. George Michael – Born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou. Rumor has it Michael’s seminal hit “I Want Your Sex” was originally titled “I Want Your Souvlaki & Babaganoush”.
8. Mother Teresa – Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. No I didn’t just mash my hand on the keyboard, that’s her real name. She actually went by her birth name for many years, but in 1963 she was being nominated for a prestigious Amnesty International award when founder Peter Beneson remarked “Mother Teresa!!! What a fucked up name! You from planet Xoranx or some shit?!” From then on, the name Mother Teresa stuck.
6. Ted Knight – Born Tadeusz Wladyslaw Konopka. Another one I really dig. It just flows off your tongue.
5. Joseph Stalin – Born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. For such a brutal dictator, Joseph Stalin just doesn’t cut it in the name department. Would you be intimidated by someone named Blair Bruce? Iosif Vissaarionovich Dzhugashvili makes me want to puke up my Lapsha in terror.
4. Rudolph Valentino – Born Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi. Valentino may have been the ultimate heartthrob already, but there is no possible way on Earth that a woman wouldn’t want to sleep with a man named Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi. Ive tried it…it works. “Hi…my name is Cindy, what’s your name?” you…”Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi” Cindy…”Shall we have sexual intercourse at my place or yours?”
The last 3 are almost too good to be true. But why would Wikipedia lie? I cannot even conjure up appropriate witty commentary…it wouldn’t do the names justice.
3. Brian Eno – Born Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno.
1. Charo – Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Moquiere de les Esperades Santa Ana Romanguera y de la Najosa Rasten.
This article was contributed by guest writer Matt.