What’s in a name? Quite a lot when it comes to Hollywood and performing. I’m sure most of you are aware that Marilyn was actually named Norma Jeane. Born ‘Norma Jean Mortenson,’ baptized ‘Norma Jeane Baker’ and shortly after her 16th birthday, married with another name change; Norma Jean Dougherty. But the name we all associate with the bombshell didn’t officially change until February 23rd 1956. A entire decade later.
After signing with 20th Century Fox in 1946, Ben Lyon (a studio exec) suggested she needed a new, star worthy name. Norma Jeane suggested Monroe which was another family name, and Ben brought Marilyn to the table after another blonde superstar, Marilyn Miller. And so the career and life of Norma Jeane would, yet again, change.
Marilyn Monroe was born.
There’s a sweet photo that Marilyn sent to Ben thanking him.
“You found me, named me and believed in me when no one else did. My thanks and love forever, Marilyn.”
So here’s a little story time from me. Stevens is not my official surname, but acts as my stage name. And no, I am not a crazed Bewitched fan either! There had always been mis-pronunciations of my legal surname and thoughts of changing it had often occurred. Quite a few years back, in London I met with a producer who told me I should alter my surname… because it sounded like an STD. Gee, thanks!
I always knew if I was going to change my name for the stage it would still have to mean something to me. (I love my mom but her maiden name wasn’t going to cut it!) I lost my father when I was 12, His name was Steven. I loved the idea of having an S S name, and making Steven into Stevens would mean a name change of the most incredible value
…Back to today’s Moment. Unsurprisingly I didn’t find any snaps of the ‘name change’ but the day before Monroe had a shoot with Cecil Beaton and I love the shots of her in the black dress!
Months before marrying for the third and final time, and would then also be a Mrs. Marilyn Miller. I wonder if she was bothered about the legal change? I know I’m not because both my legal and stage surnames are part of my father. But maybe for someone who was always moved around, something official and permanent, that was hers, would mean a lot.
I had fun lounging for these photos, and cannot lie, may have had a mini nap afterwards!
So what’s in a name? Everything. Mis-pronunciations are not acceptable! Feel confident correcting somebody. Say your name with a smile. Write it with pride because on paper there are millions of a name, but the name is only the cover to us as people.
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