Real Names of Academy Award Winners, Including Meryl Streep! Plus: Jennifer Aniston Gives Her New Dog An Oscar-Related Name
When the Best Actress category was announced at the 2012 Academy Awards on Sunday, the crowd erupted into applause hearing that 17-time nominee Meryl Streep was awarded her third Oscar — this time for The Iron Lady. But it could have been that Mary Louise Streep, the given name of the actress (and reminiscent of fellow actress Mary-Louise Parker), who was the lucky winner. Though Mary Streep doesn't have the same ring to it that Meryl Streep does, does it?
Many of this year's Oscar nominees and winners are celebrity name changers, a popular practice in Hollywood in which aspiring stars modify their given names on their paths to fame and fortune. Beyond Meryl, here are the birth names of some of the other noms...
Best Supporting Actress nominee Rooney Mara: Patricia Rooney Mara
Best Supporting Actress nominee Jessica Chastain: Jessica Howard
Best Actor nominee Brad Pitt: William Bradley Pitt
Best Supporting Actor nominee Jonah Hill: Jonah Hill Feldstein
Best Supporting Actor winner Christopher Plummer: Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer
Best Original Screenplay Woody Allen: Allen Konigsberg
Best Adapted Screenplay winner Alexander Payne: Constantine Alexander Payne
In the cases of Rooney and Jessica, each of the ladies took her mother's name when she embarked on a career in showbiz. Jessica's mother's maiden name is Chastain; Rooney's comes from her mother's side of the family — the Pittsburgh Steelers football team-owning Rooneys. And if you caught a glimpse of Brad Pitt on the red carpet at last night, he was with his true namesake — his father, William Pitt — as well as his mother, Jane Pitt, and partner Angelina Jolie, who also modified her given name, Angelina Jolie Voight, before breaking into Hollywood.
In researching Oscar nominee names, we found some other interesting tidbits:
- Best Actor nominee Nick Nolte's middle name is King, which is a name that's been on the rise in recent years (since 2006 it's been climbing up the charts) — and so is the variant Kingston, which we read about with American Idol alum Michael Lynche's son last week, and of course, Gwen Stefani's eldest son.
- Best Actress nominee Michelle Williams has a movie star middle name Ingrid -- like three-time Oscar winner Ingrid Bergman. (Michelle recently talked about how agents unsuccessfully tried to get her to change her name when she was just starting out.)
- Best Supporting Actress winner Octavia Spencer has told us that she's named after Octavia the Younger, the sister of the first Roman Emperor Augustus. We go into detail about her name here.