14 May 2010

Stage and Screen Names

When used by an actor, performer, or model, a pseudonym is called a stage name or screen name.

Actors sometimes use a screen name to make it less apparent their ethnic or racial background. Jewish comedian and "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart was born Jonathan Stewart Leibowitz. However, when asked why he dropped Leibowitz during a "60 Minutes" interview, Stewart explained that it "sounded too Hollywood".

On the other hand, John Wayne, working on his tough guy image, dropped his given name of Marion Morrison.

Stan Laurel of the Laurel and Hardy comedy team was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson and used Stan Jefferson until he realized that it had an unlucky thirteen letters.

When the studio system was strong in Hollywood and contract players were common, studios often changed an actor's name.

Roy Harold Fitzgerald became Rock Hudson.

Today, an actor is more likely to take a pseudonym because someone else has already achieved fame with that name. Actor and writer guilds and unions (SAG, WGA, AFTRA) have rules for the use of names already registered for credits, at times refusing to allow an identical name to be used again.

In the music world, pseudonyms have been used to allow artists to collaborate with artists on other labels while avoiding the need to gain permission from their own labels.

Beatle George Harrison played guitar on a Cream recording of a song he co-wrote with Eric Clapton called "Badge" and he is credited on the recording as "L'Angelo Mysterioso".

Most hip hop musicians generally prefer to use a pseudonym that represents some variation of their name, personality, or interests. Diddy was formerly known as Sean Combs, P. Diddy, and Puff Daddy. Hip hop artists seem to like using numerals, such as 2Pac from the given name of Tupac Shakur, and 50 Cent who was born Curtis Jackson.

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