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The Full Names of 26 One-Name Celebrities

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A rose by any other name probably wouldn't smell as sweet, at least not in the cases of some of these one-named celebrities. From A-Z, here are the full names of some of your favorite mononymous stars, and the reasons they dropped the rest of their names.

1. The Celeb: Adele

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The Real Name: Adele Laurie Blue Adkins
The Story: As far as I can tell, Adele’s first name is simply distinctive enough to stand on its own. Plus, “Adele Adkins” sounds a bit like she should be playing at the Grand Ole Opry (which would be lovely, but not quite the sound she’s going for).

2. The Celeb: Bono

The Real Name: Paul David Hewson
The Story: Without a doubt, Bono is the only rockstar in the world named after a hearing aid. His school friends in Dublin all gave each other nicknames, and his was "Bono Vox," Latin for "good voice," based on the Bonavox hearing aid store on O'Connell Street. Eventually he dropped the "Vox" and became the Bono we all know today.

3. The Celeb: Charo

The Real Name: Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza
The Story: I mean, “Charo” is 31 characters (not including spaces) shorter than her real name, so you can see why she decided to shorten things up. But why “Charo” instead of “Maria” or even something more distinctive like “Rosario”? As it turns out, “Charo” is actually not an uncommon nickname for “Rosario.” Here she is with Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn.

4. The Celeb: Drake

The Real Name: Aubrey Drake Graham
The Story: Drake is a better rapper name than Aubrey. Back when he was an actor on Degrassi, though, Aubrey served him well.

5. The Celeb: Enya

The Real Name: Eithne Ní Bhraonáin
The Story: Because she knew that most of the world would scratch their heads when presented with the Irish “Eithne,” Enya changed her name to the phonetic spelling of her real name. Yep, “Eithne” = “Enya.”

6. The Celeb: Flea

The Real Name: Michael Peter Balzary
The Story: The itchy moniker goes back to his high school days, when friends called him “Mike B the Flea.”

7. The Celeb: Gotye

The Real Name: Wouter “Wally” De Backer
The Story: It’s the French version of his real name, Wouter. In his words:
“I figured my own name was, a) not very showbiz, and b) just didn’t really feel very right. Wally is my nickname but you know, Wally doesn’t really feel right for a performing artist - maybe if I was writing kind of novelty music! I don’t know. Gotye is a name that my mum used to call me sometimes when I was little.”

8. The Celeb: Hammer

The Real Name: Stanley Kirk Burrell
The Story: Yeah, if you’re of a certain age, you probably know him as MC Hammer, but he dropped the Master of Ceremonies a few years back. The “U Can’t Touch This” rapper and former batboy for the Oakland A's received his nickname from an unlikely source: Pedro Garcia, then of the Milwaukee Brewers, who thought a young Burrell was a dead ringer for Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. (Reggie Jackson has also taken credit for the nickname.)

9. The Celeb: Ice-T (yes, I’m totally counting it)

The Real Name: Tracy Marrow
The Story: The name is a tribute to Iceberg Slim, a reformed pimp who later wrote novels. “I’d taken my name as a tribute to Iceberg, and then it hit me one day - dude is a writer. I thought he was fly because he was a pimp, but I realized that I really admired him because he was a writer,” Ice-T said in his autobiography.

10. The Celeb: Jay-Z

The Real Name: Shawn Corey Carter
The Story: There are a few theories, including that he was paying homage to his mentor, Jaz-O, or that it was a nod to the spot in Brooklyn where the J and Z trains meet up. But Carter maintains that it’s just a variation on his childhood nickname, “Jazzy.”

11. The Celeb: Ke$ha

The Real Name: Kesha Rose Sebert
The Story: Kesha’s her own name, obviously (who saw that one coming?), but where did the dollar sign come from? "It’s actually just being ironic about the whole money thing, because I actually stand for the opposite of putting a lot of emphasis on money,” she said in 2009.

12. The Celeb: Ludacris

The Real Name: Christopher Brian Bridges
The Story: “I made my name up. My first name is Chris, and Ludacris means beyond crazy, ridiculous -- which describes my personality, where I'm comin' from with my music, everything.”

13. The Celeb: Moby

The Real Name: Richard Melville Hall
The Story: “The basis for Richard Melville Hall - and for Moby - is that supposedly Herman Melville was my great-great-great granduncle.” While we're in the M section, Madonna was born Madonna Louise Ciccone.

14. The Celeb: Nenê

The Real Name: Maybyner Rodney Hilário
The Story: Nenê is one of the few mononymous people in the U.S. to have legally switched to a single name. The Brazilian, who plays for the Washington Wizards, was called “Nenê” as a child because he’s the youngest kid in his family and “nenê” is Portuguese for “baby.”

15. The Celeb: Oprah

The Real Name: Oprah Gail Winfrey
The Story: Most people have heard the tale: Oprah’s name was intended to be “Orpah,” after a biblical name, but it was misspelled on her birth certificate. Sorry we couldn't come up with a more obscure "O" name.

16. The Celeb: Pink

The Real Name: Alecia Beth Moore
The Story: According to the magenta musician herself, it was a cruel childhood nickname: "It was a mean thing at first; some kids at camp pulled my pants down and I blushed so much, and they were like, 'Ha ha! Look at her! She's pink!' And then the movie Reservoir Dogs came out and Mr. Pink was the one with the smart mouth, so it just happened all over again." Also: The artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson.

17. The Celeb: ?uestlove

The Real Name: Ahmir Khalib Thompson
The Story: Before he was ?uestlove, the former Ahmir Khalib Thompson wanted to be plain old ?, which he meant to mean “anonymous.” When people started calling him “Question Mark,” he changed his name again to “B.R.O. the R. ?” That didn’t work either - fans thought his name was Brother Question Mark. He finally arrived at ?uestlove because “in the old days, your name ended in rock, ski or love. ?uestrock was not happening and neither was ?uestski. So ?uestlove became my new old school name, ’cause I’m so old school!”

18. The Celeb: Raffi

The Real Name: Raffi Cavoukian
The Story: Because when your name is actually Raffi, you don’t need a surname.

19. The Celeb: Skrillex

The Real Name: Sonny John Moore
The Story: Here’s another case of a high school nickname that got carried over into adulthood. According to Mr. Moore, “Throughout my teen years my friends would call me Skrillex or Skril or Skrilly. Just became a stupid nickname that came out of the social online networking handles. Really means nothing.”

20. The Celeb: Twiggy

The Real Name: Lesley Lawson (née Hornby)
The Story: When the fashion model was just a girl, kids at school referred to her as “Sticks” because she was so thin. Her boyfriend later gave her a slightly nicer (?) version of the nickname, which became her name when she hit it big. “Twiggy is a stupid name for a woman in her 40s,” she once remarked, “But it would be hard to drop.”

21. The Celeb: Usher

The Real Name: Usher Terry Raymond IV
The Story: Let’s just say it’s a good thing Usher didn’t go the route of Drake and other celebs who eschewed their first names for their “cooler” middle names.

22. The Celeb: Voltaire

The Real Name: François-Marie Arouet
The Story: Is it any surprise that Voltaire liked wordplay? The Latinized spelling of his surname is “AROVET LI,” and “Voltaire” is an anagram of that.

23. The Celeb: will.i.am

The Real Name: William James Adams, Jr.
The Story: “I liked playing with words. I noticed that my name was a sentence, meaning one with will, who is strong-willed. And so I called my mom and said, ‘Hey, Mom, do you mind if I call myself Will.i.am?’ She was like: ‘Whaaa? You’re crazy.’ She was cool with it.”

24. The Celeb: Xuxa

The Real Name: Maria da Graça Meneghel
The Story: A quick background, in case you’re unfamiliar with the Xuxa brand: The Brazilian businesswoman started as a model back in the ‘70s but eventually ended up in children’s entertainment, which is how she made her billion-dollar fortune. She picked up her one-word title the way a lot of kids get nicknames: from a sibling. When her parents brought her home from the hospital, her brother declared that she was “My xuxa.”

Random Xuxa note: She dated Pelé, another mononymous person, which makes you wonder what they would have named their kids.

25. The Celeb: Yanni

The Real Name: He was born Yiannis Chryssomallis, though that's sometimes Americanized to John Yanni Christopher.
The Story: See “Raffi,” above. Actually, Yiannis is a very common name in his native Greece. He was known as “John” to his classmates at the University of Minnesota. “Yanni” is a just a slight variation of his given name.

26. The Celeb: Zucchero

The Real Name: Adelmo Fornacirari
The Story: Zucchero is the Italian word for sugar, a name given to him by one of his elementary school teachers. It’s also an apt description for his sweet, sweet music - the Italian musician has worked with everyone from Ray Charles to Pavarotti and has a couple of World Music Awards and a Grammy nom under his belt.

Even More: Björk is Björk Guðmundsdóttir, Cher is Cherilyn Sarkisian, and Seal is Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel. Keep the list going in the comments!

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.

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