Jakarta, 27 August 2005
Written under Miss Sassy (12)
Have you guys heard? P.Diddy did it again. From Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs to Puff Daddy then P.Diddy, he recently shed the ‘P’ and remains with just… Diddy. As to what this shorter name would do to boost his success and fame, I have no idea.
Celebrities often do the whole name-changing game for many reasons. Easier pronunciation, more appealing sound, or to exude certain aura.
Jennifer Aniston, the soon-to-be former Mrs. Brad Pitt, originally had a very Greek Anistonopulous last name. She shortened it to for easier pronunciation and avoid sounding overly Greek. Now that Nia Vardalos has made being Greek very cool with her movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’, I don’t know if Ms. Aniston would consider to finally use her full last name.
Tom Cruise was born Thomas Mapother IV. Allegedly some Hollywood superpower thought his name sounded too ‘preppy’ that he changed the name, which has survived 4 generations, into Tom Cruise. Now recently Tom Cruise repaid the deeds by changing the name of his new fiancée K-a-t-i-e to K-a-t-e Holmes. Maybe ‘Katie’ sounds a bit too teenager-y for the 40something Cruise. Well, Tom, she is that much younger than you are. But hey, I’m not judging here.
Diddy’s one-time girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez, abbreviated her name into J.Lo for the title of her second music album, and much to her surprise, the name stuck. Rumor has it that the diva doesn’t allow people to actually call her that on her face.
Norma Jean Baker dropped her name entirely and became the sex symbol with sensually-sounded name Marilyn Monroe. I’m not sure if the mental picture of her in that wind-blown white halter dress would look that magical if she remained known as Ms. Baker. Marilyn brought the adopted name to her grave in that mausoleum behind the small church on Willshire Boulevard in LA.
The same thing with Winona Ryder, born Noni Horowitz. But now after her embarrassing high-profile shoplifting case, she’d probably be tempted going back as an ordinary pretty face named Noni.
And Sting! Does anybody even know what his real name is?
Sometimes celebrities changed name to assert individualism or to emphasize their standing on issues.
Nicholas Cage didn’t want to be known as the nephew of the legendary director Francis Ford Coppola.
Jon Voight’s children decidedly use their middle name once they entered the show business. The much-rumored soon-to-be future Mrs.Pitt, Angelina Jolie, is one of them.
Prince got into fight over deals with the record company, where he felt ‘over-commercialized’, that he decided to change his stage name into a symbol no one knew how to pronounce. During his years-long battle from ‘outside the record deal system’, people were forced to address him as The Artist Formerly Know as Prince. What a mouthful, really. When few years ago he made amends with the record studios, people took a collective sigh as he reassumed the name Prince.
Vin Diesel, rather differently, kept the name he got from his previous career. If you’re a bouncer in New York’s harbinger clubs where things can get heavy and dirty, you really don’t want people to know your real name. When he became an actor he decided to keep that name, which kinda goes along with his tough-guy movie persona. Although I must say, I like his real name better—Mark Vincent. But well, I like everything from Vin Diesel anyway.
What’s in a name, inquired Shakespeare. Apparently to many entertainers, it could mean a life-changing or determining career point. Let’s call Diddy and dig out.
Published on The Sunday Jakarta Post, Lifebites column (pg.6), 19/2/06.