Our article on Engelbert Humperdinck’s eminently successful career move to change his performing name has elicited queries on similarly effective “branding” maneuvers.
We’ve come up with a number of discoveries, long buried in the shifting sands of the past, proving that “screen name adjustments” are career-changers and -makers: Mckinley Morganfield changed his name to Muddy Waters. Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. was “reborn” as rapper Snoop Dogg. O’Shea Jackson became Ice Cube. Tracy Lauren Marrow renamed himself as Ice-T (hey, they go together). Milton Supman became Soupy Sales. Jacob Cohen became Rodney Dangerfield.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta is now Lady Gaga. Thebe Kgositsile has reinvented himself as Earl Sweatshirt. Amethyst Amelia Kelly is now Iggy Azalea. Chan Kong-sang is Jackie Chan. Daniel Lawrence Whitney is Larry the Cable Guy. Dana Elaine Owens is Queen Latifah.
Stanley Kirk Burrell is MC Hammer. Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. is now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. James Todd Smith is LL Cool J. Alecia Moore is Pink. Terry Gene Bollea is now Hulk Hogan. Lee Jun Fan became Bruce Lee. Gordon Matthew Sumner is now Sting. Cassius Clay is Muhammad Ali.
Andre Rene Roussimoff is Andre the Giant. Marshall Bruce Mathers is Eminem. Saul Hudson is Slash.
What about Akon? He was born (takes a deep breath) Aliaume Damala Bouga Time Bongo Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam (exhale)!
More: William Bailey became Axl Rose. Onika Tanya Maraj is now Nicki Minaj. Paul Hewson is Bono. Lawrence Weiss became Bozo the Clown. Shad Gregory Moss is now Bow Wow (—and how!).
Paul Michael Levesque is wrestling star Triple H. Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr. has repackaged himself into gossip gadfly Perez Hilton. Curtis James Jackson III is 50 Cent. Erica Abi Wright is Erykah Badu. Ben Haggerty is now known simply as Macklemore. Glenn Jacobs is Kane. Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos is TV magic maven Criss Angel. Jeffrey Dean Isbell is Izzy Stradlin.
These talents settled for solo-standing screen names, for greater focus and impact: Prince Rogers Nelson became —just Prince. Cornell Iral Haynes—Nelly. Christopher Brian Bridges—Ludacris. Shaffer Chimere Smith—Ne-Yo. Armando Christian Perez—Pitbull. Sia Kate Isobelle Furler— Sia. Andrew Hozier Byrne— Hozier. Leslie Hornsby—Twiggy. Shawn Corey Carter—Jay Z. Tim Bergling—Avicii. Anton Zaslavski—Zedd. Dwight Michael Carter Jr.—Lil’ Wayne. Tramar Lacel Dillard—Flo Rida. Charlotte Emma Aitchison —Charli XCX. And Lonnie Rashid Lynn—Common!
More: Josephine Cottle became Gayle Storm. Robert Schmidt—Buffalo Bob Smith. Michel Shalhoub—Omar Sharif. Bobby Moore—Ahmed Rashad. Loretta Aiken—Moms Mabley. Béla Blaskó—Bela Lugosi. Robert Goldthwait—Bobcat Goldthwait. Yuli Borisovich Bryner—Yul Brynner. And Thomas DeCarlo Callaway— Cee Lo Green!
If Cee Lo had remained Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, could he have ended up as a judge on “The Voice,” enjoy a hit recording and live-performance career, go on musical tours all over the world, rack up screen credits, and get his own TV show, “The Good Life?”