Wednesday, April 29, 2009


People who have anything to do with singing, acting, comedy, juggling, magic tricks, working with trained animals, or any other facet of show business are not the least bit hesitant about changing their names.

They are convinced, or are convinced by somebody, that the clunker of a name they were born with-–which hangs around their necks like an anchor--is keeping them from becoming the star they were meant to be.

I'd like to begin my case with Alan Alda. A funny, talented actor with a name that's simple, direct, uncomplicated. But his real name is layered with intrigue, complexity, power. Alphonso D'Abruzzo. The mere sound of it--if not sending chills up your spine--insures your immediate respect. Of course, it also guarantees that you would never sit near a window with him while eating at an Italian restaurant.

Albert Brooks--who I loved in Broadcast News, Defending Your Life, and Lost In America--is a brilliant comedic actor. But he might have been even more brilliant if he had kept his original name, Albert Einstein. I'm not saying he would have unraveled the string theory or solved the mystery of crop circles. But it might have inspired him to greater heights.

50 Cent. He could have called himself 10 Cent or 25 Cent, but for some reason he opted for 50 Cent with no s on the end. And why 50? Why not 75 Cent? Or something more upscale, like 50 Dollar? Personally, I like his actual name, Curtis Jackson. It sounds grounded and real. And not like someone who's fixated with bad grammar and chump change.

Cher. One-word names like Cher, Sting and Madonna are probably used because they're easy to remember. But they have no depth or sense of history. Cherilyn Sarkisian has the ring of a woman with substance and should have been Cher's pick for stardom. But if Cher were stubborn and insisted on sticking with a one-word name, I think Sark would have been a more provocative and perhaps career-extending choice.

I can't even understand wives taking the names of their husbands. What about husbands taking the names of their wives? Am I out of line here? Will there be scolding letters of indignation? Or better yet, Why don't each of them just keep the names they started out with?

But to be fair and balanced, I can certainly understand criminals changing their names to make them harder to catch and imprison.

And then there's Doris Day, whose birth certificate says Doris Von Kappelhoff. There's no question in my mind that she had every right to change her name and I think we're all in agreement here.

To take it one step further, I hope she did it before entering grade school.


1 comment:

Howard Portnoy said...

Glad you added the disclaimer for Doris Day, which I assume pertains also to Marion Morrison (John Wayne) and Archibald Leach (Cary Grant).