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Who Was Idina Menzel Named After? The Broadway Star Changed Her Last Name When She Rose to Fame

Christell Fatima M. Tudtud
May 30, 2022
10:15 A.M.

Idina Menzel has captivated the world with her fantastic performances on Broadway, in films, and television. A woman of seemingly limitless talent, the multi-hyphenate star has recently stepped into another role.

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Idina is making a huge splash in the world of fashion design! She has launched Encore, a size-inclusive and easy-to-wear clothing line that transitions effortlessly from one activity to the next.

The 51-year-old actress shared that her inspiration for the clothing line started from a napkin drawing. Part of her collection is the "Swing romper," a versatile outfit staple inspired by the understudies on Broadway.

Idina Menzel performs onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 9, 2020 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Idina Menzel performs onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 9, 2020 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

WHY IDINA MENZEL CHANGED HER LAST NAME?

The fashion design neophyte was born Idina Kim Mentzel in New York City on May 30, 1971, to parents Stuart and Helene. When she began her acting career, she decided to slightly change her last name.

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The Broadway actress only took out the letter "T" from her original family name so that her last name reads "Menzel." She made this adjustment to keep people from mispronouncing her last name.

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Idina's decision to change her last name seemed to have helped her to break into theatre and, eventually, Hollywood. In 1996, she rose to stardom as Maureen in the critically acclaimed Broadway musical "Rent."

She gained more prominence after playing Elphaba in the Broadway production of "Wicked" in 2003. She then became a household name after playing Queen Elsa in the "Frozen" sequels in 2013 and 2019.

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WHO WAS IDINA MENZEL NAMED AFTER?

Although she made a change to her last name, the talented actress remains proud of her first name, which according to her, is of Israeli and Hebrew origins. The "Cinderella" star said of her name:

"It's an Israeli name, a Hebrew name, it means gentle. I can be gentle, it depends who you ask."

"Ih-DEE-nah men-ZELL" is how the actress pronounces her name. Idina said she was named after her late great-grandmother Ida. In the Jewish religion, Idina explained, children are named based on the first letter of a deceased loved one's name.

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THE DAY JOHN TRAVOLTA MESSED UP IDINA'S NAME

Despite Idina's effort to change her name for more precise pronunciation, some people, including Hollywood celebrities, still fail to say her name correctly. One celebrity who infamously pronounced Idina's name wrong was John Travolta.

In 2014, Travolta introduced Idina with a different name during the live Oscars ceremony. The "Grease" actor mistakenly called Idina "Adele Dazeem."

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Idina has no bitter emotions over the iconic error, which became a popular topic on the internet. She said she was baffled by Travolta's mistake, but she played it cool on stage.

As soon as the orchestra began to play, Idina was able to recover from the awkward situation. Instead of being disappointed, she laughed it off and said it was the best thing that had ever happened to her.

Idina joked about how she deserved to have her name mispronounced by a Hollywood great. "So it was like, 'Oh my God, I finally made it this big,'" she said.

To make up for putting her in an embarrassing situation, Idina said that Travolta was kind enough to send her a pleasant email and flowers following the blunder.

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