Three-time Tony Award winner Nathan Lane originally had a different name. The story is, of course, hilarious in keeping with his persona. He was born Joseph Lane, but when he joined Actors Equity, he chose to go by Nathan Lane. It was an homage to a character he admired – Nathan Detroit. During his Broadway debut, director George C. Scott persistently called him Norman instead of Nathan.
Lane didn’t feel comfortable correcting Scott at first. He even contemplated changing his name to Norman to make life easier! The actor eventually mustered the courage to correct Scott. Since then, Nathan Lane’s career has been nothing but illustrious. He’s a force to reckon with in the theater world. But most fans might know him better as the flamboyant and acerbic Pepper in “Modern Family.”
Shane West / Shannon Bruce Snaith
Shane West stole our hearts as the lovable Landon Carter in “A Walk to Remember” (2002). But he’s made several other appearances in “ER,” “Once and Again,” “Salem,” and the critically acclaimed “What We Do Is Secret." His family moved to California when Shane was 10 in search of a better life. Back then, he was called Shannon Bruce Snaith.
The name Shannon embarrassed him as a young boy. He thought it was too feminine. In high school, he used his middle name Bruce to feel better. When an acting career beckoned, the boy decided to change his name permanently to Shane West. After a period of struggle, Shane West made his acting debut in “Picket Fences” where he portrayed the role of Dave Lattimore.
Dove Cameron / Chloe Hosterman
As lovely as the name Dove Cameron might be, the origins were deeply painful. The actor has gone on record to explain that her father, Philip Alan Hosterman used to call her "dove." He took his own life when she was just 15 years old.
She changed her name from Chloe Hosterman to Dove in his memory since she never got to say goodbye. The loss was profound. He had died shortly before her debut on "Liv and Maddie." The family discovered later that he had also struggled with his sexuality. He passed without ever coming out to anyone. Cameron hopes to make a movie about him one day.
Jane Seymour / Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg
Jane Seymour will forever be Jane Seymour, Medicine Woman for her fans. But her original name is Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg – a delightful mix of her upbringing in England and her parents’ Polish, German, and Dutch roots combined!
Even at 17, Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg knew her name was quite a mouthful, especially since she wanted to pursue acting. She adopted the stage name Jane Seymour, presumably inspired by King Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour. The actor began afresh with a new identity. We think it is safe to say that the re-christening has served her well ever since.
Whoopi Goldberg / Caryn Elaine Johnson
Who doesn’t know Whoopi Goldberg? You can’t help but love her, whether she’s playing the lovely Oda May Brown in “Ghost” or the hilarious Deloris Van Cartier in the "Sister Act" movies. Her distinct name only adds to the appeal. But Whoopi isn’t her original name and neither was she born a Goldberg.
Her birth name is actually super conventional and takes you right back to the ‘50s. Meet Caryn Elaine Johnson. Surprising, isn’t it? So, how did she get her wild stage name? Whoopi comes from (you guessed it) a whoopie cushion. People said she reminded them of one. “If you get gassy, you’ve got to let it go,” explained the actor. Goldberg was her mother’s choice as a nod to their family’s Jewish heritage.