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10 Movie Star Strategies for Changing Your Name

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In the Golden Years of Hollywood, it was almost essential for any movie star to change their name—unless they happened to be born with an instantly cool name like Errol Flynn or Clark Gable. Even Janet Cole, who had a perfectly good name, had it changed to Kim Hunter. (It’s less of an issue in the past few decades, when actresses usually don’t choose to change their name, even if their surname is Bullock.) So if you’re a movie star, how do you choose your new name? Here are some tips.

1. Name yourself after one of your characters.

Dawn Paris presumably wasn’t a good name for an actress, so 16-year-old Dawn renamed herself Dawn O’Day. Perhaps realizing that this was no great improvement, she re-renamed herself after her first big movie role in 1934: Anne of Green Gables. To be exact, she named herself Anne Shirley, the same name as the title character—and kept the name for the rest of her career. Gig Young also named himself after his character in The Gay Sisters (1942), and Donna Lee Hickey renamed herself May Wynn after her character in The Caine Mutiny (1954). Please don’t try this if you ever get cast in a Hobbit movie.

2. Don’t be too obvious.

When Australian actress Louise Carbasse came to Hollywood, she was renamed “Louise Lovely.” She hated the name, and as you’ve probably never heard of her, it didn’t do her much good. Sure, rock stars can have names like Johnny Rotten and Alvin Stardust, but it just looks ridiculous if a film star chooses a name like Doris Beautiful or Jimmy Terrific or (if you want to win an Oscar) Al Pretty-amazing-actor. Subtlety works better. Frances Gumm, for example, was renamed Judy Garland – a name connected with flowers, but not one that’s too blatant.

3. If your first name isn’t so good, just use your middle name.

Terence McQueen had a name that made him sound like a Latin scholar, but as he wanted to be known as an all-American hero, he used his middle name: Steve. Ernestine Russell wanted something sexier, so she took her middle name: Jane. Eldred Peck wanted a name that sounded less like “Eldred,” so he used his middle name: Gregory.

4. Or use your mother’s maiden name.

Joan Fontaine did this, so that nobody could confuse her with her older sister (and fierce rival) Olivia de Havilland. Shirley Maclaine did this to tell her apart from her brother, Warren Beatty. Rita Hayworth, Diane Keaton, and Simone Signoret also renamed themselves after their mothers.

5. Use the same name as a movie star from the past.

Bette Midler named herself after Bette Davis, without realizing that most people pronounced her idol’s name “Betty”, not “Bet.” Most people didn’t know, however, that Bette Davis herself pronounced her name “Bet.” So Bette Midler got it right, accidentally. (Bette Davis, for the record, took her name from Balzac’s Cousin Bette. I’m not sure how Balzac pronounced it.)

6. If you don’t like any past movie stars, name yourself after one of your heroes.

Nicolas Coppola obviously decided that nobody with his surname was going to get anywhere in the film business. Fortunately, he was a devoted comic book reader. Depending on whom you ask, he might have called himself Nicolas Cage after Luke Cage, alias Power Man, a tough superhero in 1970s Marvel Comics blacksploitation comics who would go around wearing an unbuttoned silk shirt and a silver bandanna, and beating up villains while calling them names like “You freakin’ mealymouth!” Always a comic-book geek, Cage was later tapped to play Superman (which never happened) and another 1970s Marvel Comics hero, Ghost Rider (which did happen, sadly).

7. If you still can’t think of anything, hold a contest.

MGM arranged one of these in 1925 for Billie Cassin, a promising 19-year-old actress whom they were grooming to be the next big thing. Billie Cassin didn’t sound special, so she had renamed herself… Lucille Le Sueur! Exactly how that was meant to be pronounced, it’s probably best not to know. Instead, MGM ran a contest in a fan magazine to give her a new name. The winning name was … Joan Arden! Unfortunately, the name was so good that an actress in Hollywood already had it. MGM settled on the name that was runner-up in the contest: Joan Crawford. The actress kept this name for another 50 years.

8. Avoid a name that will provoke embarrassing questions.

Well, you can if you like. Caryn Elaine Johnson got the name Whoopi Goldberg, after her long-standing nickname—but while she came up with stories in interviews, she didn’t admit the real reason for that first name for several years: “I get gassy.” If this is how you got your name, you might prefer to keep it to yourself. Up to you, of course.

9. Make it gender neutral.

At first glance, this question doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Obviously, if your name is “Miriam” or “Anthony,” the pundits know what they’re getting—or your gender, at least. Stars like Drew Barrymore, Daryl Hannah and Cameron Diaz, however, make it slightly more unpredictable—and perhaps that might help your career. Jamie Foxx (real name: Eric Marlon Bishop) tried for years to break into the entertainment business, going to open-mike nights in a standup comedy venue in Los Angeles. The thing is, every other aspiring comedian had the same idea, so he had to struggle for a space. After a while, it was obvious that most of the comics had one thing in common: testosterone. If a female comic was found on the list, she could jump the queue. While he could have changed his name to Penelope or Rosanna to make it clear, he decided to call himself Jamie just to provide a shadow of doubt. Soon, his acting career was well on its way—all because of the chance he might have been a woman.

10. Shorten your name.

Is your name Rudolpho Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla? Funnily enough, we’ve seen this problem before. The name was changed to Rudolph Valentino. Sorry, but it’s going to have to fit on the poster.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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5 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 2
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Stranger Things seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of television's standout new series in 2016. Netflix's sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and always exciting homage to '80s pop culture was a binge-worthy phenomenon when it debuted in July 2016. Of course, the streaming giant wasn't going to wait long to bring more Stranger Things to audiences, and a second season was announced a little over a month after its debut—and Netflix just announced that we'll be getting it a few days earlier than expected. Here are five key things we know about the show's sophomore season, which kicks off on October 27.


The first season of Stranger Things consisted of eight hour-long episodes, which proved to be a solid length for the story Matt and Ross Duffer wanted to tell. While season two won't increase in length dramatically, we will be getting at least one extra hour when the show returns in 2017 with nine episodes. Not much is known about any of these episodes, but we do know the titles:

"The Boy Who Came Back To Life"
"The Pumpkin Patch"
"The Palace"
"The Storm"
"The Pollywog"
"The Secret Cabin"
"The Brain"
"The Lost Brother"

There's a lot of speculation about what each title means and, as usual with Stranger Things, there's probably a reason for each one.


Stranger Things fans should gear up for plenty of new developments in season two, but that doesn't mean your favorite characters aren't returning. A November 4 photo sent out by the show's Twitter account revealed most of the kids from the first season will be back in 2017, including the enigmatic Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown (the #elevenisback hashtag used by series regular Finn Wolfhard should really drive the point home):


A year will have passed between the first and second seasons of the show, allowing the Duffer brothers to catch up with a familiar cast of characters that has matured since we last saw them. With the story taking place in 1984, the brothers are looking at the pop culture zeitgeist at the time for inspiration—most notably the darker tone of blockbusters like Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

"I actually really love Temple of Doom, I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did," Matt Duffer told IGN. "Even though it was probably slammed at the time—obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film—that it really traumatized some children. Not saying that we want to traumatize children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."


When you watch something like The Americans season two, it's almost impossible to catch on unless you've seen the previous episodes. Stranger Things season two will differ from the modern TV approach by being more of a sequel than a continuation of the first year. That means a more self-contained plot that doesn't leave viewers hanging at the end of nine episodes.

"There are lingering questions, but the idea with Season 2 is there's a new tension and the goal is can the characters resolve that tension by the end," Ross Duffer told IGN. "So it's going to be its own sort of complete little movie, very much in the way that Season 1 is."

Don't worry about the two seasons of Stranger Things being too similar or too different from the original, though, because when speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the influences on the show, Matt Duffer said, "I guess a lot of this is James Cameron. But he’s brilliant. And I think one of the reasons his sequels are as successful as they are is he makes them feel very different without losing what we loved about the original. So I think we kinda looked to him and what he does and tried to capture a little bit of the magic of his work.”


Everything about the new Stranger Things episodes will be kept secret until they finally debut later this year, but we do know one thing about the premiere: It won't take place entirely in the familiar town of Hawkins, Indiana. “We will venture a little bit outside of Hawkins,” Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. “I will say the opening scene [of the premiere] does not take place in Hawkins.”

So, should we take "a little bit outside" as literally as it sounds? You certainly can, but in that same interview, the brothers also said they're both eager to explore the Upside Down, the alternate dimension from the first season. Whether the season kicks off just a few miles away, or a few worlds away, you'll get your answer when Stranger Things's second season debuts next month.

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Everything That’s Leaving Netflix in October
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NBC - © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Netflix subscribers are already counting down the days until the premiere of the new season of Stranger Things. But, as always, in order to make room for the near-90 new titles making their way to the streaming site, some of your favorite titles—including all of 30 Rock, The Wonder Years, and Malcolm in the Middle—must go. Here’s everything that’s leaving Netflix in October ... binge ‘em while you can!

October 1

30 Rock (Seasons 1-7)

A Love in Times of Selfies

Across the Universe

Barton Fink


Big Daddy


Cradle 2 the Grave

Crafting a Nation

Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest

Daddy’s Little Girls

Dark Was the Night

David Attenborough’s Rise of the Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates (Season 1)

Day of the Kamikaze

Death Beach

Dowry Law

Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief

Friday Night Lights (Seasons 1-5)

Happy Feet

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison




Love Actually

Malcolm in the Middle (Seasons 1-7)

Max Dugan Returns


Million Dollar Baby

Mortal Combat

Mr. 3000

Mulholland Dr.

My Father the Hero

My Name Is Earl (Seasons 1-4)

One Tree Hill (Seasons 1-9)


Picture This

Prison Break (Seasons 1-4)

The Bernie Mac Show (Seasons 1-5)

The Shining

The Wonder Years (Seasons 1-6)


October 19

The Cleveland Show (Seasons 1-4)

October 21

Bones (Seasons 5-11)

October 27

Lie to Me (Seasons 2-3)

Louie (Seasons 1-5)

Hot Transylvania 2

October 29

Family Guy (Seasons 9-14)


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