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18 Famous People Who Go By Their Middle Names

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March 10th is Middle Name Pride Day. While most people tend to forget about their middle name, or at least not use it in their everyday lives, a small contingent have done away with normal tradition, instead opting to use their middle names in place of their given first names. These people celebrate Middle Name Pride Day every single day, even if they don’t feel the need to shout the offbeat nature of their naming choices to the world. Still stranger? Some of these people are genuine superstars, famous people who adopted their new names before they even had fans to scream them. 

1. Christopher Ashton Kutcher

The actor changed his name at age nineteen when he embarked on his acting and modeling career. 

2. William Bradley Pitt

The actor was named after his father, though the pair only shares a first name, not a middle one. 

3. Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon

The actress’ unusual middle name—and the one she’s used since she started acting at age 14—is actually her mother’s maiden name.

4. Hannah Dakota Fanning

The actress’ name was reportedly the result of her parents’ inability to settle on just one first name for their daughter. 

5. John William Ferrell

The funnyman has always gone by an abbrievated version of his middle name, even if plenty of fake Twitter accounts want fans to think differently.

6. James Paul McCartney

This Beatle was named after his father, with his family later opting to use his middle name to avoid confusion. 

7. Marvin Neil Simon

The playwright and screenwriter was also known as “Doc” when he was in high school. 

8. Walter Bruce Willis

When he was a kid, the future actor's friends called him Bruno.

9. Mary Elle Fanning

Just like her big sister, Elle Fanning also uses her middle name both personally and professionally.

10. Robyn Rihanna Fenty

The songstress doesn’t just use her middle name as her stage name, but as her only name, which she’s used since first starting her prolific career.

11. Henry Warren Beatty

The actor and director changed his name when he was first starting his career in Hollywood because it sounded more famous.

12. Troyal Garth Brooks

The country singer was named after his father, apparently a very popular way for famous men to get first names they never use. 

13. Thomas Sean Connery

The beloved James Bond actor opted to go with Sean when he began his career because it reminded him of the movie Shane; the title character was one of his favorite movie heroes, and the name Sean "seemed to go more with my image than Tom or Tommy," he said.

14. John Calvin Coolidge

The thirtieth President of the United States was, unsurprisingly, named after his father.

15. Joseph Rudyard Kipling

The author was named after the Rudyard Lake area in England that his parents loved. 

16. Keith Rupert Murdoch

The media magnate has gone by his middle name—the same as his maternal grandfather—since he was just a baby.

17. Henry Ross Perot

The politician was actually born Henry Ray Perot, but he changed it when he was just a teenager. 

18. George Orson Welles

The director’s entire family stopped using his first name when he was still just a kid.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images
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Pop Culture
The Cult of Prince Philip
Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images
Ralph Heimans/Buckingham Palace/PA Wire via Getty Images

For seven decades, Prince Philip has been one of the more colorful figures in Britain's Royal Family, prone to jarring remarks and quips about women, the deaf, and overweight children.

"You're too fat to be an astronaut," he once told a boy sharing his dream of space travel.

British media who delighted in quoting him are still lamenting the 96-year-old's recent retirement from public duties. But the people of the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu are likely to be optimistic he'll now have the time to join them: They worship him as a god and have based a religion on him.

Followers of the Prince Philip Movement, which started in the 1960s, believe that the prince was born to fulfill an ancient prophecy: that the son of an ancient mountain spirit would one day take the form of a pale-skinned man, travel abroad, marry a powerful lady, and eventually return to the island. When villagers saw the prince’s portrait, they felt the spirit in it, and when he visited Vanuatu in 1974, they were convinced.

Chief Jack Naiva, a respected warrior in the culture, greeted the royal yacht and caught sight of Philip on board. "I saw him standing on the deck in his white uniform," Naiva once said. "I knew then that he was the true messiah."

True believers assign large world movements to the machinations of Philip. They once claimed his powers had enabled a black man to become president of the United States and that his "magic" had assisted in helping locate Osama bin Laden. The community has corresponded with Buckingham Palace and even sent Philip a nal-nal, a traditional club for killing pigs, as a token of its appreciation. In return, he sent a portrait in which he’s holding the gift.

Sikor Natuan, the son of the local chief, holds two official portraits of Britain's Prince Philip in front of the chief's hut in the remote village of Yaohnanen on Tanna in Vanuatu.
TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images

The picture is now part of a shrine set up in Yaohnanen in Vanuatu that includes other photos and a Union flag. In May 2017, shortly after the Prince announced his retirement, a cyclone threatened the island—and its shrine. But according to Matthew Baylis, an author who has lived with the tribe, the natives didn't see this so much as a cause for concern as they did a harbinger of the prince's arrival so he can bask in their worship.

To date, Prince Philip has not announced any plans to relocate.

A version of this story ran in a 2012 issue of Mental Floss magazine.

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Chloe Efforn
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Animals
John Lennon Was a Crazy Cat Lady
Chloe Efforn
Chloe Efforn

John Lennon was crazy about cats, and though he owned a couple of dogs (Sally and Bernard) over the years, he was better known for getting by with a little help from his feline friends.

1. ELVIS

Growing up, Lennon's beloved mother, Julia, had a named cat after Elvis Presley, whom Julia and John were both crazy about. The Lennons later realized they had misnamed Elvis when "he" gave birth to a litter of kittens in the cupboard, but they didn't change the cat's name based on that small mistake.

2. AND 3. TICH AND SAM

He had two other cats as a boy growing up in Liverpool: Tich and Sam. Tich passed away while Lennon was away at art school (which he attended from 1957 to 1960), and Sam was named after famous British diarist Samuel Pepys

4. TIM

One day, John Lennon found a stray cat in the snow, which his Aunt Mimi allowed him to keep. (John's Aunt Mimi raised him from a young boy through his late teenage years, and he affectionately referred to her as the Cat Woman.) He named the marmalade-colored half-Persian cat Tim.

Tim remained a special favorite of John's. Every day, he would hop on his Raleigh bicycle and ride to Mr. Smith's, the local fishmonger, where he would buy a few pieces of fish for Tim and his other cats. Even after John became famous as a Beatle, he would often call and check in on how Tim was doing. Tim lived a happy life and survived to celebrate his 20th birthday.

5. AND 6. MIMI AND BABAGHI

John and his first wife, Cynthia, had a cat named Mimi who was, of course, named after his Aunt Mimi. They soon got another cat, a tabby who they dubbed Babaghi. John and Cynthia continued acquiring more cats, eventually owning around 10 of them.

7. JESUS

As a Beatle, John had a cat named Jesus. The name was most likely John's sarcastic response to his "the Beatles are bigger than Jesus" controversy of 1966. But he wasn't the only band member with a cat named Jesus: Paul McCartney once had a trio of kittens named Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

8. AND 9. MAJOR AND MINOR

In the mid-1970s, John had an affair with his secretary, May Pang. One day, the studio receptionist brought a box of kittens into the recording studio where John and May were. "No," John immediately told May, "we can't, we're traveling too much." But she picked up one of the kittens and put it over her shoulder. Then John started stroking the kitten and decided to keep it. At the end of the day, the only other kitten left was a little white one that was so loud no one else wanted it. So they adopted it as well and named the pair Major and Minor.

10. AND 11. SALT AND PEPPER

John owned a pair of black and white cats with his wife Yoko Ono. As befitting John's offbeat sense of humor, many places report he christened the white cat Pepper and the black one Salt.

12. AND 13. GERTRUDE AND ALICE

John and Yoko also had two Russian Blue cats named Gertrude and Alice, who each met tragic ends. After a series of sicknesses, Gertrude was diagnosed with a virus that could become dangerous to their young son, Sean. John later said that he held Gertrude and wept as she was euthanized. 

Later, Alice jumped out of an open window in the Lennons' high-rise apartment at the Dakota and plunged to her death. Sean was present at the time of the accident, and he remembers it as the only time he ever saw his father cry.

14., 15. AND 16. MISHA, SASHA, AND CHARO

In later years, John also owned three cats he named Misha, Sasha, and Charo. Always an artist at heart, John loved to sketch his many cats, and he used some of these pictures as illustrations in his books.

This piece originally ran in 2012.

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