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A look-alike, double, or doppelgänger is a person who closely resembles another person in appearance.
Celebrity look-alikes--those who resemble well-known entertainers, politicians, and other public figures--can work as entertainers themselves, impersonating their targets in a variety of venues, including movies, television, stage shows, parties, and corporate functions. These professional look-alikes are often represented by talent agencies that specialize in celebrity impersonators.
Cousins, Britain's King George V (1865-1936) and Russia's Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918), shared an uncanny resemblance. Their facial features were only different up close. At King George's wedding in 1893, according to The Times of London, the crowd may have confused Nicholas with George, because their beards and dress made them look alike.
Mikheil Gelovani, a Georgian actor and Joseph Stalin look-alike, played the Soviet leader in propaganda films of the 1930s and 1940s. In 2008, 88-year-old Felix Dadaev, a former dancer and juggler, disclosed that he had been one of four look-alikes whom Stalin had employed as decoys to mislead enemies and potential assassins (there in fact were attempts on Stalin's life--two at Yalta alone).
The BBC comedy programme Doubletake made extensive use of look-alikes playing their doubles in apparently embarrassing situations, seen through CCTV cameras and amateur video, using distance shots and shaky camera-work to disguise the true identity of those being filmed. Due to the nature of this programme and conditions of filming, many of the world's most authentic lookalikes boycotted the project leaving the producer to rely on the careful use of soft focus, lighting and carefully positioned camera angles to make the mainly amateur lookalikes resemble the characters they portrayed.
UK Celebrity Big Brother contestant Chantelle Houghton worked briefly and unsuccessfully for a look-alike agency as a Paris Hilton look-alike, earning the nickname "Paris Travelodge". By the time Chantelle Houghton won series 4 of Celebrity Big Brother, the same agency had already signed up a professional model who made a more convincing Paris Hilton look-alike... and who was briefly also offered as a fake "Chantelle".
UK Richard and Judy ran a competition for Little Britain Lookalikes in 2005. After the live final broadcast on Friday, 28 January 2005, on Channel Four, two winning contestants, Gavin Pomfret and Stuart Morrison, formed a Little Britain tribute act called "Littler Britain."
Dolly Parton has stated that she lost a 'Dolly Parton Look-Alike Contest'.
In 2008 a friend pointed out to Bronx native Louis Ortiz his striking resemblance to then-presidential-candidate Barack Obama. Ortiz, initially as a money-making venture, sought gigs as an Obama impersonator. Ryan Murdock is making a documentary film about his experiences, The Audacity of Louis Ortiz.
Larissa Tudor looked strikingly similar to former Grand Duchess Tatiana of Russia. Larissa's background was sketchy and included a lot of irregularities. After her death in 1926 it was rumored that she was the former grand duchess. When author Occleshaw wrote a book about Larissa 60 years after her death, those who had known her identified a picture of the former Grand Duchess Tatiana as being Larissa.
In The Woman in White (1859), by Wilkie Collins, the protagonist meets two women, Anne Catherick and Laura Fairlie, who strongly resemble one another. The villain of the story, Count Fosco, uses this resemblance to steal Laura Fairlie's fortune. (See also Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White in "Illegitimacy in fiction: Victorian".)
Georg Kaiser's 1917 play The Coral depicts a powerful industrialist whose male secretary is his exact double. The secretary's duties include impersonating his employer at public functions. Other employees can tell the two men apart only by the fact that the secretary always wears a coral watch-fob.
In Robert Heinlein's novel Double Star (1956), actor Lawrence Smith is approached to impersonate prominent politician John Joseph Bonforte, who has been kidnapped, despite his antipathy toward Bonforte's policies. In studying the man to perfect his imposture, Smith eventually comes to admire Bonforte. He continues this performance through an election and, when Bonforte dies, the subsequent tenure in office as "Supreme Minister." This story parallels that of the film Dave, but in this case when the actual politician dies, and Bonforte's staff begins to suggest shifts in policy contrary to Bonforte's beliefs, Smith refuses to submit to their desires, removes them from their positions, and continues in the role for the rest of his life, in honor of Bonforte's legacy.
In Daphne du Maurier's novel The Scapegoat (1957), an Englishman meets his double, a French aristocrat, while visiting France, and is forced into changing places with him, finding himself caught up in all the intrigues and passions of his double's complex family.
In Richard Powell's novel Don Quixote, U.S.A. (1966), Arthur Peabody Goodpasture, an inept Peace Corps volunteer and the spitting image of El Gavilan, a revolutionary leader in the fictional Republic of San Marco in South America, is forced to assume the identity of El Gavilan after the original is kidnapped and taken to the Soviet Union when El Gavilan's plot to have Goodpasture abducted by the Russians goes wrong.
"The Leader and the Damned" (1983) by Colin Forbes is a secret history thriller whose plot is based on the assumption that Adolf Hitler was assassinated in 1943, a bomb completely destroying his body. The Nazi hierarchy kept this as a top secret and got a double to impersonate Hitler, and it was this double who led Nazi Germany until its final demise in 1945.
The 1932 musical film The Phantom President depicts a man who is eminently qualified to be President of the United States but who is unlikely to be elected because he is dull and lacks charisma. Fortunately, he has an exact double: a patent-medicine salesman and vaudeville hoofer who is a charismatic campaigner but has no actual political qualifications. The film cynically suggests that most American voters would prefer the latter to the former. Both roles are played by legendary song-and-dance man George M. Cohan.
The 1940 comedy film The Great Dictator was Charlie Chaplin's first talkie and his most commercially successful film. Chaplin plays both "Adenoid Hynkel" (a satirizedAdolf Hitler) and a Jewish barber who is Hynkel's spitting image. The barber eventually replaces Hynkel, who has been arrested after having been mistaken for the barber. On nationwide radio the barber, impersonating the dictator, declares in a great rousing speech an end to anti-semitism and a return to democracy.
Angel on My Shoulder (1946): The Devil persuades a deceased gangster, played by Paul Muni, to let his soul possess the body of an honest judge who looks exactly like the gangster and who is causing the Devil distress with his honesty.
The Magic Face (1951): Adolf Hitler is killed by his valet/double Rudi Janus and takes his place.
The Square Peg (1959): Norman Wisdom plays road repairer Norman Pitkin, who is called up for the army and sent to Nazi-occupied France, and also Pitkin's exact double, General Schreiber.
The Scapegoat (1959): Alec Guinness plays both a French aristocrat and the English schoolteacher who is maneuvered into taking his place so the Frenchman can have an alibi for a murder.
The year after James Garner left the television series Maverick in 1959, in which he had portayed a gambler named Bret Maverick, Warner Bros. studio hired Garner lookalike Robert Colbert to play Bret Maverick's brother Brent Maverick, who had never previously been mentioned, and dressed him in exactly the same costume.
In the James Bond film Thunderball (1965), French NATO pilot François Derval is murdered by Angelo, a SPECTRE henchman who has been surgically altered to match Derval's appearance. Angelo then takes Derval's place aboard, and seizes, a NATO plane loaded with two atom bombs.
Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha (1980): the warlord Takeda Shingen (1521-73) is sometimes impersonated by his brother Nobukado. Nobukado saves a thief who is to be executed, because the man bears an astonishing resemblance to Shingen. The thief becomes a kagemusha (shadow warrior) and learns the role of daimy? Shingen, who is subsequently killed by an enemy sniper. The false identity of the kagemusha is revealed when he is unable to ride Lord Shingen's favorite horse; but in the final battle at Nagashino the kagemusha accepts his role and fights as the last man holding the banner of the Takeda clan.
In a feature-length episode of the British sitcomOnly Fools and Horses entitled "Miami Twice", Derek is mistaken for a Mafia don who is his spitting image, and he is used by the Mafia in an attempt to fake the don's assassination (though several tries fail). The likeness is so uncanny that even Derek's brother Rodney is tricked. Both Derek and the don are played by David Jason.
In Ringo Lam's Maximum Risk (1996), Jean-Claude Van Damme is a French policeman who discovers that a man who has been killed by the Russian Mafia was his look-alike twin brother that he never knew he had. Tracing the dead brother's footsteps, the protagonist inadvertently "inherits" the brother's predicaments and girlfriend.
Masquerade (2012): South Korean historical film starring Lee Byung-hun in dual roles as the bizarre King Gwanghae and the humble acrobat Ha-sun, who stands in for the King when he faces the threat of being poisoned.
The Lookalike (2014) follows two criminals as they attempt to find a lookalike love interest for a drug lord after the unexpected death of the girl he's actually interested in.
The Lookalike (a made-for-TV thriller, 1990): A mentally disturbed woman is further tormented after discovering a girl who closely resembles her recently deceased daughter.
The CBS television series of reality specials, I Get That a Lot (2009-13), poked fun at the concept of "celebrity lookalikes", featuring celebrities appearing in everyday situations, such as working as clerks at stores. When pegged as celebrities, they would simply state some variation of the titular phrase, "I get that a lot," pretending that they were ordinary individuals who had been mistaken for celebrities.
In Final Fantasy VIII, SeeD mercenaries and Forest Owls resistance fighters devise a complicated plan to kidnap the president of Galbadia Vinzer Deling, which includes switching the presidential train wagon from its tracks and replacing it with a mockup. Deling foresees the plan and sends a shapeshifter monster to take his place, who attacks the game protagonists. The monster is ultimately killed, but the plan's failure forces the Forest Owls into hiding.
In Metal Gear Solid, former drill instructor and adviser to the game's protagonist Solid SnakeMcDonnell Benedict Miller, better known by his nickname Master Miller is murdered before the game main events and replaced by main antagonist Liquid Snake in disguise. Liquid, as Master Miller, tricks Solid Snake into unknowingly do his bidding. The plot is discovered by ColonelRoy Campbell and his staff, who track Miller's communications and find out they are coming from Shadow Moses Island after the real Master Miller's corpse is found dead in his house.
In Call of Duty: Black Ops the first mission consists in assassinating Fidel Castro. The player succeeds, but at the end, it is revealed that the Fidel Castro he killed was actually a body double.
In Ace Attorney Investigations 2, it is revealed that the president of Zheng Fa (a fictional country) had its president killed 12 years prior. The president encountered by the protagonists in the first episode, as is not revealed until the 5th one, was ultimately a body double.