25 celebrities whose real names will surprise you

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circa 1927: Greta Garbo (1905 – 1990), the stage name of Greta Gustafson, the Swedish leading actress who became a goddess of the screen. She is playing the part of the temptress and meeting the engineer, Antonio Moreno (1886 – 1967) the Spanish star of Hollywood for the first time. Title: The Temptress Studio: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Director: Mauritz Stiller, Fred Niblo (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

Greta Garbo (Greta Lovisa Gustafsson)

Speaking of renowned old Hollywood actresses, we move on to Greta Garbo. She’s often regarded as one of the best actresses of her generation, along with the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Bette Davis. That’s a pretty great feat considering she retired from public life by age 36! (For a look at her career, try movies like Ninotchka or Camille, both of which earned her nominations for Oscars.)

Greta was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and as such, had a very Swedish name: Greta Lovisa Gustafsson. She got her start in silent films before blowing up in Hollywood. But the young Swedish star felt the need to change her name.

Back in Sweden, Gustafsson was an extremely common name, so in 1923, she decided to change it to something shorter and “pronounced easily in any language.” And just like that, Greta Garbo was born.