George Hegerman is a fictional pool hustler, better known by the nickname "Minnesota Fats", and featured as a prominent character in Walter Tevis's novels The Hustler and The Color of Money. Actor Jackie Gleason played this part in the 1961 film version of The Hustler, based upon the novel. Gleason was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, and was honored as Best Supporting Actor by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. The Minnesota Fats character did not appear in the 1986 film version of The Color of Money, which had an entirely different storyline from the novel.
Real-life professional pool player and entertainer Rudolf Wanderone Jr. was known as "New York Fats" (among other nicknames) when the book was published. He initially wanted to sue but, realizing that there was more money to be made from the success of the book and subsequent movie, changed his nickname to match the fiction. He claimed that the author had based the character upon himself and that a financial settlement had been made to avoid a lawsuit, but Walter Tevis consistently denied this. Wanderone then went on to play himself under the name "Minnesota Fats" in the 1971 movie The Player. There is also a character by the name of Fats Brown (James Howard Brown) based on Minnesota Fats in the Twilight Zone episode "A Game of Pool", played by Jonathan Winters.
- "The Hustler — Awards". allmovieguide.com. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
- "Awards Search: The Hustler". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
- "Awards - 1961". National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
- Thomas, Robert (January 19, 1996). "Minnesota Fats, a Real Hustler With a Pool Cue, Is Dead". New York Times
- "People: Dec. 28, 1970". Time (New York). December 28, 1970. Retrieved December 20, 2009
- Brown, James (October 13, 1961). "Twilight Zone: Season 3, Episode 5 A Game of Pool". IMDb