Middle Name Switches

March 17, 2010 Linda Rosenkrantz

Clearly, parents today are giving a lot more thought to their children’s middle names than their own parents did.  Long gone are the automatic connective choices like Lee and Lynn, Beth and Bruce;  more likely now might be something more imaginative like Maeve or West—or Sebastian or Story—or Mom’s maiden or another family name.

For some people, the reasoning behind this is to give the child an additional option for later in life.  It works both ways: either he could switch his classic William for his jazziermiddle  Jasper, or she could opt for using her traditional, grown-up Elizabeth middle name over the less sophisticated Poppy.

It turns out that a surprising number of celebrities have done just that—chosen to use their middle as their marquee moniker.  Sometimes it was to drop a wimpy appellation for a more stylish one (Eldred for Gregory, Orvon for Gene), sometimes because a name was too common at the time (Mary, John, James) and the middle had more character (Farrah, Orson, Montgomery), sometimes maybe because probably just seemed cooler to be Brad than Bill.

As a result, some of the most stand-out celebrity names –Evangeline, Reese, Rihanna, Ashton and Jude—started out in second place on the birth certificate.  Here are some of the most prominent–And note that the last names given aren’t necessarily the ones they were born with.


Kathryn BRIDGET (Moynahan)

Lily CLAUDETTE (Colbert)

Mary DEBRA (Winger)

Nicole EVANGELINE (Lilly)

Audrey FAITH (Hill)

Mary FARRAH (Fawcett)

Dorothy FAYE (Dunaway)

Deborah HUNTER (Tylo)

Mary KATHLEEN (Turner)

Olive MARIE (Osmond)

Holly MICHELLE (Phillips)

Carole PENNY (Marshall)

Laura Jean REESE (Witherspoon)

Robin RIHANNA (Fenty)

Rebecca SARA (Gilbert)

Elizabeth TEA (Leone)

Ellen TYNE (Daly)


Christopher ASHTON (Kutcher)

William BRADley (Pitt)

Walter BRUCE (Willis)

John CHARLTON (Heston)

William CLARK (Gable)

Yitzak EDWARD (Asner)

William FRENCH (Stewart)

Troyal GARTH (Brooks)

Leonard GARY (Oldman)

Orvon GENE (Autry)

Eldred (GREGORY)(Peck)

Hiram HANK (Williams)

James HUGH (Laurie)

David JUDE (Law)

Allen KELSEY (Grammer)

Edward MONTGOMERY (Clift)

George ORSON (Welles)

James PAUL (McCartney)

Charles ROBERT (Redford)

Patrick RYAN (O’Neal)

Thomas SEAN (Connery)

Terence STEPHEN/Steve (McQueen)

Michael SYLVESTER (Stallone)

Richard TREAT (Williams)

Henry WARREN (Beatty)

John WILLiam (Ferrell)

Jeannel WYCLEF (Jean)

But  you didn’t have to be an entertainer to follow this pattern.  Some others:

Lula CARSON (McCullers)

Alfred DAMON (Runyon)

Samuel DASHIELL (Hammett)

Anna ELEANOR (Roosevelt)

Mary FLANNERY (O’Connor)

Mary JESSAMYN (West)

Herbert MARSHALL (McLuhan)

John MICHAEL (Crichton)

Marvin NEIL (Simon)

William ROBERTSON (Davies)

John ROBINSON (Jeffers)

Joseph RUDYARD (Kipling)

Margaret RUMER (Godden)

Keith RUPERT (Murdoch)

Hiram ULYSSES (Grant)– he hated having the initials HUG)

Adeline VIRGINIA (Woolf)

Pearl ZANE (Grey)

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