Whoopi Goldberg was born Caryn Johnson. So how did she ever become the “Whoopi Goldberg” so many came to know her by? The truth is less than delicate. The first name (which reads more like a nickname) came from her jokes about “if you’re gassy, you’ve got to let it go”.
People told her she was “like a whoopee cushion” and the name stuck. Her mother figured that she might do better in Hollywood with a Jewish surname, so she chose Goldberg and the rest is history!
Little Drummer Boy
Aubrey Drake Graham, or “Drake” as he is known professionally, grew up in a musical family. His father was a drummer for Jerry Lee Lewis and, when Drake finally stepped into his own music career, he chose his middle name for his stage name.
He says he felt more of a personal connection to his middle name than his first name, seeing the first name as his more “proper” side and his middle name as who he is on a daily basis.
Actor Joaquin Phoenix was born to hippie parents (John Lee Bottom and Arlyn Dunetz) who lived an unconventional lifestyle and had even more unconventional names. Along with kids Rain, Liberty, Summer, and River were born Joaquin Rafael Bottom.
His siblings changed their last name to Phoenix and Joaquin also decided then to change his first name to “Leaf” because so many people struggled to pronounce “Joaquin”. As his acting career took off, however, he eventually settled again on “Joaquin Phoenix”.
Many might be surprised, but Ben Kingsley was actually born as Krishna Pandit Bhanji. His father was of Indian descent and his mother was English. He was born in Yorkshire, England, and decided to take the surname “Kingsley” from his grandfather’s trade (“King Clove”) name when he worked as a spice trader.
His first name also was a sort of adopted nickname. The change officially came after he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and started to, quite literally, make a name for himself as an actor.
DJ Calvin Harris is known privately as Adam Richard Wiles. The Scotland native decided to change to the stage name of “Calvin Harris” after releasing his first song, which had more of a “soul” sound. His motivations for selecting a new name almost got him into trouble.
He has since worked alongside some of the biggest hitmakers like Rhianna, Ne-Yo, Florence Welch, Ellie Goulding, John Newman, Frank Ocean, Ariana Grande, and many more.