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Today is Get A Different Name Day. Not sure where this special day came from, but it’s one writers can identify with, as many of us have different names—as in pen names.

But what if you’re not a writer and you haven’t chosen a writing alias? Why would you want to get another name? The reasons are myriad.

Maybe you were only given one name and wanted to have a middle name like most everyone else. My parents didn’t give my sister a middle name and she decided she wanted one. So, she chose a middle name that was the same as one of our aunts. As a result she received a monetary gift from said aunt. When my sister realized being a namesake involved getting gifts, she decided to change her middle name to that of another aunt in hopes of receiving more loot. Mom and Dad put a quick stop to her scheme.

Or maybe your parents inadvertently, or purposely, chose a name whose initials spelled something you wouldn’t want monogrammed on your towel. My dad had a rascally side to his humor and told my mother he wanted to name one of his daughters Anna Sue, after his sisters. Mom thought it was a pretty name, and she agreed, until she realized when you put our last name with the rest of the moniker, the initials spelled. A.S.S. That was the end of Dad naming the kids.

Maybe your name was great when you were a kid, but then someone with your name becomes famous, and suddenly you’re carrying the moniker of one of the most reviled presidents of the President of the United States. It happened to my brother-in-law. He couldn’t order pizza using his full, real name because the servers hung up on him. They eventually started leaving my sister’s name instead.

Like authors, many performers choose a different name than the one they were born with. Some new names have an echo of the person’s real name like Natalie Wood, whose birth name is Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko, or Chevy Chase (Cornelius Crane Chase). Others choose a name with no relationship to their real name, such as Ben Kinsley. His birth name is Krishna Pandit Bhanji, or Alan Alda who began life as Alphonso d’Abruzzo.

Here are a few more stage names I found interesting. Can you match them to their owners? Without looking them up? Once you do, you’ll see why they decided to choose a new name.

A. Maurice Micklewhite                                                  A. Rock Hudson

B. Leroy Harold Scherer Jr.                                            B. Audrey Hepburn

C. Archibald Alexander Leach                                        C. Truman Capote

D. Truman Streckfus Persons                                        D. Michael Caine

E. Steveland Judkins                                                     E. Cary Grant

F. Edda Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston             F. Stevie Wonder



  • Answers to quiz:
  • Maurice Micklewhite/ Micheal Caine
  • Leroy Harold Scherer Jr. /Rock Hudson
  • Edda Kathleen van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston/ Audrey Hepburn
  • Truman Streckfus Persons/ Truman Capote
  • Steveland Judkins/Stevie Wonder
  • Archibald Alexander Leach/ Cary Grant

You may not be ready to celebrate Get A Different Name Day like the celebrities above, but if you do, consider this: In ancient times, names were important, and often impacted the lives of the those who held the names. In Biblical times names were also changed when significant events affected a person. The persecutor of the early Christians, Saul, became the apostle Paul upon his conversion. Abram became Abraham when he under took his sojourn at God’s request. When Jacob fought with the angel he was renamed Israel.

So when choosing your name for this weird holiday, look for something that has meaning to you, a nice ring to it, and showcases your personality, or who you’d like to become.

Who knows, you might like the new moniker so much you decide to keep it.

Do you have a story about your name you’d like to share?