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An impersonator is someone who imitates or copies the behavior or actions of another. 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 Male drag queens have traditionally been called "female impersonators", although this terminology is now considered outdated.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 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. 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.
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.
- Maurice LaMarche
- Frank Welker
- Jim Cummings
- Rob Paulsen
- Tress MacNeille
- Dan Castellaneta
- Moin Akhter
- Joe Alaskey has impersonated Jackie Gleason and Mel Blanc
- Shafaat Ali
- Anthony Atamanuik impersonates Donald Trump
- Ate Glow did comedic impersonations of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
- Alec Baldwin impersonates Donald Trump
- Rory Bremner
- Steve Bridges
- Reggie Brown impersonates Barack Obama
- Frank Caliendo
- Jim Carrey
- Dana Carvey
- Dmitry Orlov, occasionally does impersonations of Berl Lazar
- Marc Dreier
- Jimmy Fallon (does regular impersonations, but better known for impersonating famous singers)
- Will Ferrell
- Tina Fey
- David Frye
- Mikheil Gelovani portrayed Joseph Stalin at least a dozen times in film in their lifetimes
- Frank Gorshin—several actors, best known for Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster
- Sunil Grover
- Charlie Chaplin—parodied Adolf Hitler in the film The Great Dictator
- Bill Hader
- Darrell Hammond
- Hal Holbrook has portrayed Mark Twain
- Jay Jason
- Clay Jenkinson portrays Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis, Theodore Roosevelt and Robert Oppenheimer and others
- Val Kilmer has portrayed Mark Twain
- Jan Leighton, famous for his impersonations of historical figures, estimated at over 3,000 in his lifetime
- Rich Little, called "The Man of a Thousand Voices"
- Ross Marquand
- Kate McKinnon
- Vaughn Meader
- Jim Meskimen
- El Moreno Michael
- Sammy Petrillo, best known for his Jerry Lewis impersonation
- Jay Pharoah
- Jim Post portrays Mark Twain
- Mike Randall has portrayed Mark Twain and Charles Dickens
- Stevie Riks
- Tim Russell
- Sour Shoes
- Martin Short
- Kevin Spacey
- Aries Spears
- Freddie Starr
- Larry Storch
- Jeffrey Weissman has portrayed Mark Twain and Crispin Glover, the latter of whom sued over Weissman's impersonation of him
- Joe Wiegand portrays 26th US president, Theodore Roosevelt
- Kristen Wiig
- Emlyn Williams impersonated Charles Dickens
- Robin Williams
- Debra Wilson
- Howard X, best known for his impersonation of Kim Jong-un
- Gravity Noir impersonated Culture Club with lead singer Patrick Knight impersonating Boy George
- Fátima Flórez portrays Cristina Kirchner
- Jess Harnell
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.
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, some courts have ruled that supplying this wrong information may not be criminal. The ruling hinges on whether there was harm to the other person.
- Police impersonation
- Shi (personator), in the Chinese ancestor ritual: a figure impersonating ancestors
- Soundboard, victim soundboard
- Tribute act
- Identity fraud
- Identity theft
- ^ "Impersonator". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
- ^ 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.
- ^ Los Angeles Times, Apr 11, 2018 - Golden Knights give Vegas a real sense of community
- ^ Billboard, May 9, 1998 - Page 60 Newsmakers, Now The Real Thing.
- ^ The Star, Saturday, 7 Jul 2007 - Warren makes time for grandson by Stuart Michael
- ^ Sheffield Star, Wednesday 28 April 2010 - Stars shine for Sam Sorono at hospice fundraiser - VIDEO Archived 2018-04-19 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Santos, Romano (24 August 2021). "What Happened to Filipino Political Impersonator Ate Glow?". Vice. Vice Media Group. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
- ^ The Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission, The Interpretation of Statutes, footnote 66, page 18, published 9 June 1969, accessed 17 December 2022
- ^ "Using false S.S. number not impersonation". UPI. October 28, 2010.