Interesting Questions, Facts, and Information
Birth and Stage Name
Robert Taylor. My first credited role was in the movie "Handy Andy" (1934). In 1947 I made huge waves when testifying at the HAUC by giving the names of my fellow actors who were communists and stating that I felt they should be deported. I sucummbed to lung cancer on June 8, 1969.
Robert Reed. The role I am most remembered for is as Mike Brady in the "Brady Bunch" (1969). My breakthrough role was on the series "The Defenders" in 1961. I received three Emmy nominations for my portrayal of a transsexual doctor on the series "Medical Center" in 1975 and two miniseries "Rich Man Poor Man" (1976) and "Roots" (1977).
Jack Pickford. I was born in Toronto, Canada but became a US citizen in 1920. My sister, Mary Pickford arranged for me to have a contract with her, by Biograph. She then got me a contract when she signed with First National. I dodged the death bullet three times; a heart attack in 1928, a serious car accident in 1931 and a nervous breakdown in 1932. The latter caused me to lapse into a coma, with my death following in January 1933.
Boris Karloff. Pratt was born November 23, 1887. He claimed he later chose the name Boris because it sounded foreign and that Karloff was a family name. His daughter Sara disputes any knowledge of ancestors named Karloff. Karloff did concede that the reason he changed his stage name early in his career was because he didn't want to embarrass his proper English family when he decided on a career as a "lowly actor". After he achieved fame in 1931's "Frankenstein", his relatives changed their mind. When he briefly returned to England in 1933 to film the "The Ghoul" Pratt's family was proud of their celebrity relative. The 6-sheet "Frankenstein" movie poster featuring Karloff is probably the most valuable movie poster in the world because there is reportedly only 1 copy remaining. Peter Lorre was born Laszlo Lowenstein. Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. was Price's given name and Bela Lugosi was christened Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko. A statue of him is in Budapest.
Shelley Winters. Shirley came into the world on August 18, 1920. Her mother's maiden name was Rose Winters and she was called Shelley instead of Shirley growing up. After adopting the more Hollywood-sounding name of Shelley Winters her first movie was "There's Something About a Soldier" in 1943. In 1959 she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for "The Diary of Anne Frank" and another for "A Patch of Blue" in 1965. Her final nomination was for her role as Mrs. Belle Rosen in the 1972 film, "The Poseidon Adventure". She later appeared with "Poseidon" co-star Jack Albertson in a number of episodes of Albertson's sitcom "Chico and the Man" between 1974 and 1979. Proud of her Jewish heritage, she donated her Oscar for "Anne Frank" to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. She passed in 2006 leaving a lengthy legacy of film, television and stage credits. Mae was born Mary Jane West in Woodhaven, New York. Nathalie Kay Hedren was nicknamed Tippi. Barbara Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens in New York City.
Douglas Fairbanks. Douglas' mother was married to a man named John Fairbanks who died. She then married a man named Wilcox who turned out to be abusive. Her divorce was handled by Hezekiah Charles Ullman who married her and fathered Douglas on May 23, 1883. Douglas moved to New York in the early 1900s to pursue an acting career and joined the acting troupe of British actor Frederick Warde. He preferred the name Fairbanks as a stage name. By 1920 he had completed 29 films. His last silent film was "The Iron Mask" in 1929. Fairbanks did not adapt well to sound films. He and Mary Pickford made their first talkie playing Petruchio and Kate in "The Taming of the Shrew", also released in 1929. The last movie he acted in before retiring was the British production "The Private Life of Don Juan". Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn was born in Tasmania, Australia. Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi was an Italian actor who went by the name Rudolph Valentino. Palance was born Volodymyr Palahnyuk.
John Denver. Born in Roswell, New Mexico, on New Years Eve of 1944, John Denver left for California and sang in folk clubs around Los Angeles. He adopted the surname Denver after the capital of his favorite state, when someone mentioned that 'Deutschendorf' wouldn't fit comfortably on a marquee. John is his middle name. In 1965 he joined the Chad Mitchell Trio and later formed Denver, Boise, and Johnson. In 1969 he pursued a solo career and released his first album for RCA Records, "Rhymes and Reasons". It was not a commercial success at the time, but it did contain his composition "Leaving On A Jet Plane", which was a number one record for Peter, Paul and Mary. In addition to his CMA and Grammy awards, John received an Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Special in 1975 for "An Evening With John Denver". Looking at a road map, Harold Lloyd Jenkins spotted Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Texas and adopted the stage name Conway Twitty. Robbins was born Martin David Robinson in Arizona. Stanley Robert Vinton, Jr. is the name given to Bobby Vinton at birth.
Tab Hunter. Arthur Kelm was born July 11, 1931. As a teen growing up in California, he was an excellent figure skater and horseback rider. Arthur Kelm was named Tab Hunter by his agent when he signed a contract with Warner Brothers Studios. In 1952 his first major role came in "Island of Desire" opposite Linda Darnell. It was his co-starring role as a young Marine named Danny in 1955's "Battle Cry" that gave him a reputation as one of Hollywood's emerging romantic leads. Hunter has appeared in over 45 films and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6320 Hollywood Blvd. Salvatore "Sal" Mineo Jr. was a Golden Globe-winning film and theater actor. Frankie Avalon was born Francis Thomas Avallone on September 18, 1939, in Philadelphia. Born Merle Johnson, Jr., Troy Donahue was initially a journalism student at Columbia University before deciding to become an actor.
Rock Hudson. Hudson was born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr. in Illinois on November 17, 1925, just before the depression. When the depression hit, his father abandoned the family. His mother remarried and his stepfather, Wallace "Wally" Fitzgerald, adopted him, thus changing his last name to Fitzgerald. He served as an aircraft mechanic in the Navy during World War II. Upon his discharge he went to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. A 1948 fortuitous meeting with powerful Hollywood scout Henry Willson gave Hudson his break. Hudson related that Willson coined Roy's new screen name from a combination of the Rock of Gibraltar and Hudson River. He went on to star in over 70 motion pictures as well as numerous television productions. Yves Montand was born Ivo Livi. Tony Curtis was given the birth name Bernard Schwartz on June 3, 1925. Garner was born as James Scott Bumgarner in Norman, Oklahoma.
Wolfman Jack. Born in Brooklyn on January 21, 1938, Robert Smith grew to be a fan of disc jockey Alan Freed. He adopted his signature howl from the late-night radio antics of Freed. He experimented with several different looks before he finally decided on his final Wolfman persona. In addition to his radio work, Smith appeared in several television shows as Wolfman Jack including "The Wolfman Jack Show" (1976), "The Odd Couple" (1970-1975) and "What's Happening" (1967-1979). He was also occasionally featured on "Hollywood Squares" (1965-1981). He was the regular announcer and occasional host for "The Midnight Special" between 1973 and 1981. Winston Conrad Martindale began as a disc jockey and went on to be a television game show host. Albert James "Alan" Freed was also known to his radio followers as "Moondog". Murray Kaufman was professionally known as Murray the K. He frequently referred to himself as "The Fifth Beatle".
Jack Benny. Jack Benny was born Benjamin Kubelsky on February 14, 1894. In 1917 he formed a vaudeville musical duo playing the violin with pianist Cora Salisbury. The famous violinist Jan Kubelik believed an entertainer with a similar name would cause confusion or possibly damage his reputation. Kubelsky agreed to change his name to Ben K. Benny. Benny left show business briefly to join the Navy. While enlisted he entertained the troops with his violin playing and gradually earned a reputation as a comedian as well as a musician. Shortly after the war Benny started a one-man act called "Ben K. Benny: Fiddle Funology". A performer named Ben Bernie threatened to sue so Benny adopted the common sailor's nickname Jack. Skelton was born Richard Bernard Skelton. Emmy award winner Milton Berle was actually Milton Berlinger. Redd Foxx's given name was John Sanford.
Stan Laurel. Born June 16, 1890, British-born Stan Laurel met fellow actress Mae Dahlberg who suggested he change his name early in his acting career. It was common for British actors to adopt a stage name. Laurel working in England as a stage actor for a while then he joined Hal Roach's studios in Hollywood as a director. He directed the 1926 production "Yes, Yes, Nanette". He wanted to work primarily as a writer and director. In 1927, Oliver Hardy was injured and Laurel was asked appear in a production. Laurel and Hardy then began sharing screen time together in the 1927 productions "Slipping Wives", "Duck Soup" and "With Love and Hisses". The studio became aware that the two men had an on-screen chemistry and started casting them in their own features in the late twenties. George Burns was born Nat Birnbaum, Woody Allen's given name was Allen Konigsbern and Rodney Dangerfield's name was actually John Cohen.
Muddy Waters. Born in Mississippi on April 4, 1913, Waters reputedly got his name because he enjoyed playing in the muddy Mississippi waters as a boy. He headed north to Chicago in 1943 in hopes of becoming a full-time musician. He stayed with a relative while he drove a truck and worked in a factory by day and began playing clubs at night. Big Bill Broonzy was one of the top blues men in Chicago at the time and gave Muddy a break into the club scene by letting him open for his shows. Muddy Waters became an inspiration for the British beat explosion in the 1960s, and is considered by many in the music business to be one of the most influential blues artists of the twentieth century. In 2004 he was ranked number 17 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. "Big Bill" was born William Lee Conley Broonzy. Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins hailed from Houston, Texas. B. B. King was born Riley B. King.
Joe Yule Jr.. Mickey Rooney's father, Joe Yule, was an actor in Vaudeville. Mickey is, perhaps, best known for playing opposite Judy Garland in musicals of the 1930s and 1940s. In 1983, after 60 years as an actor, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Vivian Mary Hartley. Vivien Leigh was born in Darjeeling, India and was married to famous actor Laurence Olivier. Scarlett O'Hara was, perhaps, her most famous role (1939) but she also played Blanche Dubois in "A Steetcar Named Desire" in 1951, for which she won her second, Best Actress Academy Award.
Susan Stockard. Ms. Channing originated the role of Rizzo in the 1978 movie "Grease". She has also appeared in movies such as "The First Wives Club" (1996) and "Six Degrees of Separation" (1993) with Donald Sutherland and Will Smith.
The incorrect answers are all famous actresses: Carol Channing (her real name) played Dolly Levi in the Broadway show "Hello Dolly" (1964); Susan Tomalin is better known as Susan Sarandon; Edythe Marrenner was the real name of Susan Hayward.
Redd Foxx. Redd Foxx was a stand-up comedian in the 1940s and 1950s and was one of the first to use off-color or "blue" humor. From 1972 to 1977, he starred in his own TV comedy series called "Sanford and Son", where he played Fred Sanford (his brother's real name).
Sandra Dee. Sandra Dee was married to Bobby Darrin and, in 1965, was the last major star under contract with Universal Studios. One of the songs from "Grease" (1978) was named after her, i.e., "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee", sung by Rizzo (Stockard Channing).
Ira Grossel. Jeff Chandler was born in Brooklyn, New York and was a childhood friend of Susan Hayward. He was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Cochise in the 1950 film "Broken Arrow".
Diane Hall. Her nickname is Annie, from which Woody Allen derived the title "Annie Hall" (1977). Aside from being in many movies, she was in the original Broadway production of the musical "Hair" in 1968.
Jay Scott Greenspan. Jason Alexander played George Costanza on "Seinfeld" for its entire run, from 1990 to 1998, and was the only one of the four stars who did not win an Emmy for his character. He was also the lead on the failed TV show "Bob Patterson" in 2001; he was the voice for the cartoon "Duckman" (1994-1997), and he won a Tony Award for the musical "Broadway" in 1989.
Emmanuel Goldenberg. Mr. Robinson was also in such notable movies as "The Ten Commandments" (1956) and "Key Largo" (1948) but was never nominated for an Academy Award; he did, however, receive a Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously in 1973. The incorrect answers are the real names of Fred Astaire, George Burns and Milton Berle.
Albert Einstein. Albert Brooks was a stand-up comedian, appearing frequently on "The Johnny Carson Show", from 1962 on, before acting in movies like "Defending Your Life" (1991) opposite Meryl Streep. He is the brother of Bob Einstein who is known for playing "Super Dave" Osbourne (1988).