Famous people with unusual surnames include professional basketball player Metta World Peace (formerly named Ron Artest), professional hockey player Cal Clutterbuck and English pop singer Engelbert Humperdinck (born Arnold George Dorsey). Other celebrities with distinctive surnames are long-serving Duke University men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (better known as "Coach K"), actor Rip Torn and the goalkeeper for the U.S. national women's soccer team, Hope Solo (born Hope Amelia Stevens).Continue Reading
The question of whether a last name qualifies as strange is subjective. For instance, a foreign-sounding name that may seem odd or difficult for native speakers of English to pronounce may be common in its country of origin. In Poland, the surname Krzyzewski is unremarkable, as is the last name Kardashian in Armenia and Ejiofor in Nigeria.
Furthermore, many famous people either change their names or adopt stage names as adults. Examples include actress Olivia Wilde (born Olivia Jane Cockburn); singer Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara); shock-rock performers Alice Cooper (Vincent Damon Furnier), Marilyn Manson (Brian Hugh Warner) and Rob Zombie (Robert Bartleh Cummings); and musician and reality television personality Gene Simmons (Chaim Witz). Factors influencing a celebrity's choice of stage name include the new name's distinctiveness, its compatibility with the brand identity that the celebrity hopes to foster and its ease of pronunciation for a largely English-speaking audience.Learn more about Art & Literature