25 celebrities whose real names will surprise you

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Actress Natalie Wood sitting in the back of a taxi, August 31st 1964. (Photo by George Stroud/Express/Getty Images)

Natalie Wood (Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko)

For those who don’t know, Natalie Wood was a Hollywood actress who starred in classic movies like West Side Story, Rebel Without a Cause and Miracle on 34th Street. She received three Oscar nominations by the time she was 25 (and none of them, surprisingly, were for West Side Story).

Unfortunately, Natalie drowned at the age of 43 in 1981, and after years of conflicting statements, the case is still under investigation. But we’re not here to talk about her mysterious death (though it’s definitely worth discussing).

Natalie Wood was born the child of Russian and Ukrainian immigrant parents. If “Natalie Wood” doesn’t sound Russian or Ukrainian to you, that’s because it’s not. Her birth name is Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko.

When she started acting during her childhood, studio execs made the decision to switch her name to Natalie Wood instead. Looks like it was a good decision!