Imposter: In the news a few weeks ago, I learned that a man stole his friend’s physician credentials, and while his friend was traveling abroad, the man impersonated a doctor and treated nearly 500 patients over the course of a year in South Carolina.
Real Deal: Percy Spencer was a self-educated orphan whose formal education ended at 12 years old. He worked with MIT physicists as an engineer to develop technology for WWII, and later discovered the microwave oven, by popping unpopped corn kernels in range of a magnetron on a whim while touring Raytheon.
Got me to thinking about some of the world’s most notorious imposters:
- Clark Rockefeller (German national who claimed to be a famed Rockefeller for years)
- Ferdinand “the Great Impersonator” Demara (lacked the credentials but not the gumption: civil engineer, prison warden, teacher, lawyer, monk, doctor, etc.)
- Frederic “the Chameleon” Bourdin (assumed over 40 identities before later settling on just one)
Got me to thinking about great books and movies featuring imposters, many of them based on true stories:
- Catch Me If You Can, 2002 (film based on the autobiography of Frank Abagnale)
- Anastasia, 1956 (Ingrid Bergman film based on Anna Anderson, who claimed to be the youngest daughter of Russian Czar Nicholas II)
- Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993 (Robin Williams; based on the novel Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine)
- Tootsie, 1982
- Shakespeare in Love, 1998
- Some Like It Hot, 1959
Got me to thinking about people who are the real deal:
- the doctor at the Lahey Clinic in Boston who fixed my husband’s hip so that he can run around with the kids like he used to
- William Shakespeare
- Jonas Salk
- Charles Darwin
- Ludwig van Beethoven
- Leonardo Da Vinci
- Henry Ford
- Albert Einstein
- Thomas Edison
- Mother Teresa
I’m comforted by the fact that the real deal folks far outnumber the fakers.
Got me to thinking about books and movies depicting real deal individuals:
- To Kill A Mockingbird, a 1962 film based on the 1960 novel by Harper Lee
- Erin Brockovich, 2000
- The Blind Side, a 2009 film based on the book by Michael Lewis
- Silkwood, 1983
- The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006
What’s your favorite movie or book based on an imposter? What’s your favorite one featuring a “real deal” individual? Is there someone in your life that you feel is the real deal? Has your life been positively changed because of him or her? Have you thanked them?