Unlike many actors who changed their names (particularly in the early days of Hollywood) simply to stand out or because their birth names sounded unappealing, actor Michael Keaton was initially hesitant to change his name but was compelled to do so because his birth name was already in the spotlight.
Keaton, like singer Katy Perry, took her stage name because her birth name, Katheryn Hudson, was evidently already taken by actor Katy Hudson.
Why Michael Keaton Changed His Name
The actor, born Michale John Douglas, had to change his name because there was already a “Michael Douglas” in the industry; one was the famous son of Kirk Douglas, and the other was the titular host of the long-running syndicated daytime talk program, “The Mike Douglas Show.”
The Screen Actors Guild, America’s largest labor union representing film and television actors at the time, forbade its members from exchanging screen names, leading to many actors adopting stage names.
Keaton told Grantland in 2012 that the entertainment world informed him he needed to change his name after he received his first professional job.
“I discussed [the name change] with Michael Douglas,” he stated. “I didn’t believe it would matter at the moment. When I obtained the job, they told me, ‘You’ve got to have another name.’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t.’ ‘Yeah, you do,’ they said. ‘I want to join the union.’”