Shakespeare once said that a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. But some of the stars around today who’ve got rather unusual monickers have different thoughts on the subject. So, what’s really in a name? Here, a few celebrity experts tell you.
DWEEZIL ZAPPA: “I like having a name that could only belong to me. I mean, there’s only one Dweezil in the whole universe, I guess. I like being unique; it’s like having a trademark. But I had to grow into it. It’s like Greek olives—it’s an acquired taste. As a kid, I did get a lot of teasing. I used to hate it when some kids would call me Weasel. Or Tweezers. “But eventually, you figure out that being different isn’t so bad, and now I wouldn’t change my name for anything! I mean, if I was going to be a plumber or a dentist, that might not be a great name, but it’s great for show biz!”
MICKY DOLENZ: “What really bugged me was being called Micky—you know, like the famous mouse. How would you like to have a rodent’s name?
“But, hey, if Micky Rooney could stand it all those years… I’d rather be famous with a weird name than not famous with a great name like Alexander Buckingham III.”
EMILIO ESTEVEZ: “It all depends on your perspective, and it differs from culture to culture. I could have been a Sheen, like my dad, who dropped his Spanish surname. But today, there’s more ethnic pride and honesty. So I have two ethnic names, and it sure hasn’t hurt my career. I think it’s part of being mature, and facing up to who you are.”
DEMI MOORE: “Do you know I was once actually called Dudley Moore in a newspaper interview? That was when I was in the movie Blame It On Rio, which starred Michael Caine. So this British paper said ‘Dudley Moore’ was one of the co-stars! I could hardly believe it. And people, before they met me, didn’t know if Demi was a guy or a girl.
“In French, Demi means half—like demitasse. So I think my name’s chic. But best of all, people have gotten used to it, so now they know how to say it and what to expect.”
SHEILA E.: “I believe that if you don’t like your name, or if it’s a handicap to you, go change it. After all, it can be legally done… When I was in school, there was a kid in my class named John Glasscock. His last name got him so much ribbing, and now that he’s an adult, he’s kept that name!
“I simply shortened my last name, and it’s saved me a lot of hassle. It’s not that I’m not proud of it, but who wants to go through life having to spell, pronounce, and explain your name to strangers? Life’s too short for that.”
MORTEN HARKET: “My name is not so very different in my own country (Norway). In America, it is confusing to some teenagers. I have heard myself referred to as the boy with the name like salt—Morton Salt. And I’ve been called just Mort, which is a common name in America. But it’s like anything else—it may be different in the beginning, but once you get used to it, it sounds normal. You only have to look at Dustin Hoffman, as an example—and he was named after a movie actor (Dustin Farnum), so we do have a big influence on young people’s names.”
BRONSON PINCHOT: “People always used to think Bronson was my last name. Like Charles Bronson, or like that TV show called Then Came Bronson. I didn’t mind, except it sounded so military—everyone calling me by what they thought was my last name!
“Actually, Pinchot didn’t trouble me. It’s just that Bronson has such a macho connotation, and it doesn’t go with the roles I play. Thank goodness. I’m better known now, so that they say, ‘Oh, yeah—Bronson…”
MEAT LOAF: “I think a name should reflect the person who bears it, y’understand. I do not look like a tuna sandwich, and I do not sound like quiche, and I’m not the lobster type, either. As a rock star of major proportions, you can tell on looking at me that. I like to eat, and I’m a hunk of beefcake. So I’ve got the perfect name. What can I tell ya?”
SCOTT VALENTINE: “My name’s pretty ordinary. But Valentine… Let’s put it this way: you don’t go through school, as a boy, with a surname like Valentine, and get through unscathed. On Valentine’s Day, it was the worst! I was everybody’s valentine. And then, when Karen Valentine was on re-runs of that show Room 222, everyone called me Karen Valentine’s kid brother. Stuff like that.
“Now I like it. After all, Valentine is a pretty romantic name. And girls like it.”
GUNNAR NELSON: “I love having a Viking kind of name. It’s neat! But in school, no one knew how to pronounce it, or they’d say Gun, or Goon-er. Hey, that wasn’t my problem—just call me Top-Gunnar!”