After hearing that Billion Dollar Girl Miley Cyrus has added yet another name to her list of identities, we had to wonder how all this name-changing business is supposed to help an already-famous star's career. Cyrus, who was given the flashy title Destiny Hope Cyrus at birth, was nicknamed Smiley Miley as a kid by her achy breaky dad Billy and, guess what, it stuck. Now, AOL is reporting that Cyrus has officially changed her name to Miley Ray Cyrus, just like dad Billy Ray. But how have the most memorable mid-career name games fared when it comes to a celebrity's career? We took a look at a few of the most famous quick switches, and discovered it takes more than a flashy press announcement (and even a flashy new symbol) to inject a falling star with newfound fame...
1. John Cougar Mellencamp: After releasing his breakthrough album, American Fool in 1982, John added Cougar (his original surname) to his public persona. Although he'd won a grammy with the simpler name, Scarecrow went on to receive enormous commercial success post-name change. But during the late 80s and early 90s, John went through a "dark period," which showed on later albums. Was the Cougar too vicious for John's happy-go-lucky attitude?
2. Sean "Diddy" Combs: First he was Biggie's producer Sean Combs, then he was a rapper in his own right as Puff Daddy, and after the 1999 J. Lo court drama, tried to reinvent himself as P. Diddy, only to drop the "P." during a formal announcement on The Today Show in 2005. While all this reinvention kept Combs in the press, we've never been able to figure out why all these monkers are appealing; all we unfortunately envision when we hear any number of them is the unnecessary image of Combs sitting on the john. Are we alone?
3. Prince: Perhaps the most infamous name (symbol?) alteration in history, Prince decided in 1993 that he would only be referred to in print as that unpronounceable symbol incorporating "the male and female signs along with the alchemy symbol for soapstone." Despite the bold move, talk show hosts and anyone with the unfortunate task of having to introduce him at award shows found the move troubling, and a mini-backlash ensued. Inevitably, Prince Rogers Nelson (his real name!) wisely reverted back to his original stage name in 2000.
4: Muhammed Ali: The name Cassius Clay brings up images of the greatest fighter in history, swinging like a butterfly, stingin' like a bee. But after achieving massive success as a boxer, Clay took up with Malcolm X and and the Nation of Islam, confusing the masses by taking a Muslim name and devoting his private life to serving the Prophet. Just before the change, Clay had shocked the world by defeating undefeated Sonny Liston in 1945 at just 22. But his devotion to Islam ultimately sent him to prison, and after learning he'd gotten Parkinson's, the whimsical vocalist and arguably greatest boxer in history, was tragically remembered more for his mysterious choices later in life, rather than his achievements in the ring.
5: Rebecca Romijn and Courteney Cox: On a lighter note, these two actresses officially changed their stage names to reflect their new marraiges: Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Courteney Cox Arquette, respectively. While feminism is certainly all about choice, and there's nothing wrong with theirs, Bex and Court's original monikers were so alliteration-happy, we were bummed when they insisted on reflecting their hubby's boring-by-comparison last names on screen. And look what good it did Romijn, who's back to her old (way better) title? And Cox; why mess with such an excellent, boner-triggering name like that by reminding fans that she married a guy with a Salvadore Dali mustache?
6. Clay Aiken: While Claymaniacs will be delighted to know (as though they don't already) that Clay's original name still incorporated "Clay," his birth name didn't quite sound as musical as the one he chose when auditioning for Idol: Clayton Holmes Grissom. We hardly think adopting Aiken is the source of Claymania, but his new moniker does sound a bit similar to "achin," which is what we suspect the majority of Claymaniacs fantasize about feeling during their naughtiest Clay sex dreams.
[Photo Credit: Getty]