Back on track, set to graduate and then shot dead

Mike Nichols

A rose by any other name

A rose by any other name

"Downton Abbey" fans must remember the Ralph Lauren commercials that preceded the program. Yet somehow I don't think the classy clothing and accessories would carry the same cachet if Mr. Lauren had used his real name in advertising them, that name being Ralph Lifshitz. Similarly, I wonder whether Mike Nichols, the Academy Award-winning director of dozens of major movies, who also has won nine Tony awards as well as Emmys, Golden Globes and Grammys, would have been as successful as Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky, the name he was given at birth.

Would Cary Grant and Tony Curtis still have been heartthrobs as, respectively, Archibald Leach and Bernie Schwartz? Isn't Marilyn Monroe...