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Could You Change Your Name for Fame?

Before you decide to change your name, legally or otherwise, ponder these famous examples. 

Colder Than a Thunder Bay Spring

The Blizzard of 1977 had barely taken hold of bitterly cold Lake Erie’s shores when The Hardy Boys flashed across ABC-TV screens around Ontario. Thanks to Whitby author Franklin W. Dixon, Ontarians snapped up their remotes instead of piling through sky high snow drifts. Hockey Night in Canada fans might recognize him as commentator Brian McFarlane’s father, Charles Leslie McFarlane. 

Sending Up the Old Guard

American wit and scientist Benjamin Franklin adopted female aliases to criticize sexism. So the mysterious Polly Baker and Martha Careful were born. Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum evaded Soviet Russia’s detection by writing Atlas Shrugged under her aka, Ayn Rand.

Out of This World

Journalist and Mormon William Alexander Smith created quite a stir when he got the California State Assembly’s permission to change his nom de plume to “lover of the universe”. Amor De Cosmos, later to be B.C. Premier, said the name represented “what I love most….Love of order, beauty, the world, the universe.” The eccentric De Cosmos founded the Victoria Times-Colonist and pioneered an early food truck, a failed hot food delivery service for Klondike gold prospectors.

A Troublemaker is Born

Nelson Mandela got his name when he went to school. The famed South African leader was born Rolihlahla, “pulling the branch from a tree”, or as it’s otherwise translated “troublemaker” from the clan Madiba. As was the custom, he was renamed by a schoolteacher who found his African name too hard to pronounce.

Bad for Your Resume

Emmy award winning actors Aaron Paul Sturtevant and Jennifer Linn Anastassakis suffered similar fates. Fearing directors couldn’t pronounce his last name, the son of a Baptist minister changed it to Paul before making it big as Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad and Tom Cruise’s brother-in-law in Mission Impossible: III. Friends star Jennifer Aniston’s actor father Yannis (Days of Our Lives and The West Wing) changed their Greek last name to get work himself. Ilyena Lydia Mironoff could sympathize with that. The English actor Helen Mirren is the daughter of a Russian emigrè cab driver and violist.

Painting Themselves Out of a Corner

Painters understood the logic behind branding. Florence-born Renaissance sculptor Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi abbreviated his name to Donatello. Influential Spanish Renaissance painter and sculptor Dominikos Theotokópulos, a Greek, refashioned himself as simply “El Greco”. His unusual work inspired Edvard Munch of The Scream fame and Picasso, legally known as Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso. 

Just the Facts 

A clerical error gave U.S. general and civil rights advocate Ulysses S. Grant his middle name. Taunted by schoolmates who called him “Useless”, Grant was encouraged to attend West Point military academy by his father. Assuming his mother’s maiden name Simpson was his middle name, a local congressman’s office submitted his application as Ulysses “S.” Grant. So began the legend of America’s 18th president. 

Take Me to Your Leader

Using fake I.D. has a checkered past. Trotskyites’ revered leader, Marxist Leon Trotsky, stole his name from an Odessa jailer. Lev Davidovich Bronstein was exiled in Siberia for revolutionary activities when he escaped in 1902 by hiding in a hay wagon. Taking on his assumed identity, Lev went into hiding in Berlin before re-emerging in the Soviet Union to lead the Red Army. He was assassinated in Mexico in 1940, after fleeing Russia yet again to live in exile. 

Women Are From Venus…

Choreographer and composer Bruno Mars dumped Peter Gene Hernandez so he wouldn’t be stereotyped as a Latin singer. The Waikiki native and Uptown Funk producer has scored seven number-one singles on Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100 list since 2010. He gets his music chops from his mother, a former Filipina hula dancer, and father, a percussionist and Little Richard fan.

Change Your Name Legally in Ontario

It’s not that hard, as long as you:

  • are 16 or older
  • have lived in Ontario for at least one year
  • it’s not for fraudulent or improper purposes
  • and your chosen name doesn’t cause confusion.

Our virtual or in person notary publics handle all the legalities with ease. Your new name is in the mail in six to eight weeks on average. Unless you request otherwise for security reasons, the change is published in the Ontario Gazette. Changes to children’s names cost extra. Oh, and you’ll need a new birth certificate from your province of origin.

Expediting an Ontario Name Change

You can request speedy service for a pending adoption, if you are graduating from college or university, want to correct the sex on a birth certificate or for immigration purposes.

Get a Legal Name Change Online

Axess Law’s Ontario notary publics make your name change legal and official. When you don’t have time to drop by in person, remote in by video call. Video conferencing appointments are available 7 days a week, day or evening. Dial 877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form to book  yours. In person meetings can be arranged at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s notary public services.


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