Did an Actress Actually Adopt the Name of the Character She Played in a Notable Film?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: An actress took on the name of the character she was playing in a film.

Wouldn’t it be odd if Daniel Radcliffe were to announce that, from this point forth, he would be known as Harry Potter?

And yet, that’s exactly what happened with the star of 1934’s Anne of Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables was a 1908 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, about a young girl named Anne Shirley who is accidentally adopted by a pair of middle-aged siblings (they were expecting an adolescent boy to help them on their farm) to live on their farm, called Green Gables.

It was a very popular book and spawned a series of novels about Anne and her small town of Avonlea.

It was so popular that it received a film adaptation in 1934.

The film adaptation starred a young sixteen-year-old actress named Dawn O’Day, which, of course, was itself a stage name for Dawn Paris.

Well, when Dawn took on the role, she also decided to take on the name of her character, Anne Shirley, as her stage name.

And for the rest of her film career (which lasted about a decade after the film, which became a big hit for RKO), that was what she was known by.

Shirley had a modestly successful career as a supporting actress, including receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for 1937’s Stella Dallas.

I bet that’s one more nomination than either Pippi Longstocking or Caddie Woodlawn will ever receive!

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

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