5 European celebrities whose real names you′ve probably never heard of | High Five | DW | 02.09.2016
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High Five

5 European celebrities whose real names you've probably never heard of

We know them as Sting, Bono and Freddie Mercury. But what did their parents call them? Apparently, a catchy name is crucial to stardom - at least it helped these five stars.

Are you familiar with Sofia Villani Scicolone or Paul David Hewson? Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner or Farrokh Bulsara? Probably not. But you'd recognize their faces right away.

Bud Spencer is perhaps a more recognized name. Many may be familiar with the flatfoot character from the movie "Banana Joe" or recognize him as one half of "Trinity Is Still My Name." Bud Spencer lambasted the bad guys along with his sidekick, Terence Hill, but came into the world on October 31, 1929 as Carlo Pedersoli.

A man of many talents

The Italian from Naples had a variety of talents and didn't start acting until later in life. Initially, Pedersoli rose to fame as a swimmer. He won the national championship for seven years in a row and was the first Italian to swim the 100-meter freestyle in under one minute.

In 1952 and 1956, he participated in the Olympics as a swimmer and water polo player. Later he lived in South America for a few years, where he worked on an assembly line, as a secretary and as a librarian before getting his degree in law. Then he decided to take yet another path and started composing songs for Italian singers. He had accomplished all this and more before he ever made his first film.

International instead of Italian

His first film role came about in 1967. Pedersoli was 38 years old at the time. Together with fellow Italian Mario Girotti, Pedersoli starred in "God Forgives… I Don't!"

The producers found their Italian names were too provincial; they decided that something with a more international flavor was needed. So, the actors agreed on adopting screen names. Mario Girotti became Terence Hill and Carlo Perdesoli was named Bud Spencer.

An homage to beer and Spencer Tracy

The new name didn't come about by pure chance. Carlo Pedersoli's new first name was derived from his favorite brand of beer: Budweiser. His last name was a tribute to the American actor Spencer Tracy. Tracy was Pedersoli's role model, even though he had never actually wanted to become an actor.

Rumor has it that Pedersoli wasn't very enthusiastic about his first movie role. Nevertheless, the film still made the duo world-famous and established Bud Spencer as a star for years to come.

Carlo Pedersoli died on 27 June 2016, aged 86, but will always be remembered as the inimitable Bud Spencer.

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