January 18 was the day of Archibald Leach's birth, in 1904, in Bristol, England. Leach, a one-time stilt walker and vaudevillian, would become world famous in the 1930s under a different name... Cary Grant.
Grant originally came to the United States as part of a stage troupe and stayed when everyone else went home. After spending almost a decade in vaudeville and on stage, he went to Hollywood and his new bosses at Paramount pictures renamed him Cary Grant (the initials, C.G., were already popular with moviegoers--Clark Gable and Gary Cooper were two of the biggest movie stars in the world).
Want to go see a movie starring Roy Fitzgerald and Doris Kappelhof? Have you ever seen Reginald Kenneth Dwight in concert? Would it make you quake if Marion Morrison rode into town to restore justice?
A lot of actors, musicians and even politicians have played the name game -- changing up their name for something more befitting someone whose star is destined to rise. Hollywood movie star Joan Crawford built a formidable career after the studio held a contest in which fans got to choose a new name for starlet Lucille LeSueur. It's very possible Barry Manilow found it easier to write the songs that make the whole world sing after he legally left Barry Alan Pincus behind. John Denver may have felt Henry John Deutschendorf was bumming his Rocky Mountain High.