The Man Who Became Celine Dion and Other Adventures in Name Changes
Written by John G. Browning
The combination of alcohol, the pandemic, and the internet can be a
potent one indeed; just ask Mr. Celine Dion—formerly known as Thomas
Dodd. The 30-year-old hospitality manager from Staffordshire, England,
is a big fan of Canadian songstress Celine Dion, so much so that he
legally changed his name to “Celine Dion.” The former Mr. Dodd said he
spent much of the pandemic watching Dion concerts on television, and on
Christmas Eve, after “getting rather tipsy,” he filed the paperwork
online to legally change his name. Days later, he was reminded of his
inebriated decision when the documentation officially making him “Mr.
Celine Dion” arrived in the mail. “I honestly, hand on heart, don’t
remember doing it,” he said. Nevertheless, you might say it’s all coming
back to him now. And Mr. Dion f/k/a Dodd said his heart, and the name
change, will go on because he’s planning on keeping his new legal
moniker, no matter what anyone says.
In fact, alcohol-induced lapses in judgment have accounted for a number of legal name changes, particularly in jurisdictions where (unlike Texas) it can be accomplished without court approval. Simon Smith, 33, of the United Kingdom, admitted that he’d had more than a few pints at the pub before venturing online to change his name to honor his favorite fast food. Now he’s legally Mr. “Bacon Double Cheeseburger.” Often, however, the reasons are more personal. David Lynn Porter, 54, had his name legally changed to “Santa Claus” in “the spirit of giving and caring for kids” and because “I’ve always loved Christmas.” Meanwhile, in 2008, 57-year-old Illinois artist Steve Kreuscher changed his name to “In God We Trust” as a way of honoring the help God gave him during tough times. Two years later, he changed it to “One Nation Under God.”
Sometimes, hero worship or superfandom is the reason for a name change. That explains how George Garret, of Glastonbury, England, became “Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk and the Flash Combined” and how Kelvin Borbidge became “Baron Venom Balrog Sabretooth Vader Megatron Vegeta Robotnik Magneto Bison Sephiroth Lex Luthor Skeletor Joker Grind” (who added that he was bored of his day-to-day life). It also explains 23-year-old Daniel Knox-Hewson’s decision in 2011 to legally change his name to “Emperor Spiderman Gandalf Wolverine Skywalker Optimus Prime Goku Sonic Xavier Ryu Cloud Superman Heman Batman Thrash.” Sadly, however, such a name change will not help you meet women or move out of your parents’ basement.
For others, a legal name change is a form of activism for a cause. That’s why animal rights activist Abi Izzard decided to change her name to raise awareness of a London department store’s selling of foie gras (produced by the force-feeding of geese). She’s now “StopFortnumAndMasonFoieGrasCruelty .com” and insists she’s never been embarrassed or regretted her name. The same reasoning led Karin Robertson to become “GoVeg.com,” and Brandi Valladolid to change her name to “RinglingBeatsAnimals.com.” Jennifer Thornbury, of North Carolina, legally became “CutoutDissection.com” to protest animal dissections in schools. NBA player Ron Artest famously changed his name to “Metta World Peace” in 2011, and in 2006, strawberry farmer-turned Idaho gubernatorial candidate Marvin Richardson legally became “Pro-Life” so that he could be listed as such on the ballot (spoiler alert: he didn’t win).
Other people arguably come up. TBJ
JOHN G. BROWNING
is a former justice of the 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas. He is the immediate past chair of the State Bar of Texas Computer & Technology Section. The author of four books and numerous articles on social media and the law, Browning is a nationally recognized thought leader in technology and the law.