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Patrick Knight as Boy George
An impersonator of George Michael
Theodore Roosevelt impersonator Joe Wiegand performs October 27, 2008 in the East Room of the White House, during a celebration of Roosevelt's 150th birthday.

An impersonator is someone who imitates or copies the behavior or actions of another.[1] There are many reasons for impersonating someone:

  • Entertainment: An entertainer impersonates a celebrity, generally for entertainment, and makes fun of their personal lives, recent scandals and known behavior patterns. Especially popular objects of impersonation are Elvis Presley (see Elvis impersonator), Michael Jackson (see Michael Jackson impersonator) and Madonna (see Madonna impersonator). Entertainers who impersonate multiple celebrities as part of their act, can be sorted into impressionists and celebrity impersonators. Male drag queens have traditionally been called "female impersonators", although this terminology is now considered outdated. Minstrel shows were a popular form of theater in the United States in which white people impersonated black people by wearing blackface makeup and imitating Southern black speech and music.
  • Crime: As part of a criminal act such as identity theft. This is usually where the criminal is trying to assume the identity of another, in order to commit fraud, such as accessing confidential information, or to gain property not belonging to them. Also known as social engineering and impostors.
  • Decoys, used as a form of protection for political and military figures. This involves an impersonator who is employed (or forced) to perform during public appearances, to mislead observers.
  • Sowing discord, causing people to fight, or dislike each other for social, business or political gain.

Celebrity impersonators[edit]

A Michael Jackson impersonator for the 25th anniversary of the album Thriller at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival with performers from Step It Up and Dance.
A Madonna wannabe, an impersonator of Madonna's 1980s looks and fashion style.

Celebrity impersonators are impostors who look similar to celebrities and dress in such a way as to imitate them. Impersonators are known as sound-alikes, look-alikes, impressionists, imitators tribute artists and wannabees. The interest may have originated with the need or desire to see a celebrity who has died.[citation needed] One of the most prominent examples of this phenomenon is the case of Elvis Presley. Edward Moss has appeared in movies and sitcoms, impersonating Michael Jackson.[2]

Tom Jones has attracted his share of impersonators from different places around the world. From the United States, to South East Asia, to the UK, there are performers who either sound like him or imitate his act.[3][4][5][6]

Notable impersonators[edit]

Criminal impersonation[edit]

In England and Wales, the Poor Law Amendment Act 1851, section 3, made it an offence to impersonate a "person entitled to vote" at an election. In the case of Whiteley v Chappell (1868), the literal rule of statutory interpretation was employed to find that a dead person was not a "person entitled to vote" and consequently a person accused of this offence was acquitted.[8]

Although in a Colorado case, an immigrant was charged with "criminal impersonation" for using another person's Social Security number when signing up for a job,[citation needed] some courts have ruled that supplying this wrong information may not be criminal.[9] The ruling hinges on whether there was harm to the other person.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Impersonator". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
  2. ^ Baker, Bob (March 3, 2005). "King of Pop impersonator star of E! trial re-enactment". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on July 9, 2009.
  3. ^ Los Angeles Times, Apr 11, 2018 - Golden Knights give Vegas a real sense of community
  4. ^ Billboard, May 9, 1998 - Page 60 Newsmakers, Now The Real Thing.
  5. ^ The Star, Saturday, 7 Jul 2007 - Warren makes time for grandson by Stuart Michael
  6. ^ Sheffield Star, Wednesday 28 April 2010 - Stars shine for Sam Sorono at hospice fundraiser - VIDEO Archived 2018-04-19 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Santos, Romano (24 August 2021). "What Happened to Filipino Political Impersonator Ate Glow?". Vice. Vice Media Group. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  8. ^ The Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission, The Interpretation of Statutes, footnote 66, page 18, published 9 June 1969, accessed 17 December 2022
  9. ^ "Using false S.S. number not impersonation". UPI. October 28, 2010.