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A look-alike, double, or doppelgänger is a person who bears a strong physical resemblance to another person, excluding cases like twins and other instances of family resemblance.

Cousins Tsar Nicholas II (left) and King George V in German military uniforms, Berlin, before World War I

Some look-alikes have been notable individuals in their own right, such as Britain's King George V and Russia's Tsar Nicholas II, who bore a striking resemblance to each other (they were first cousins). Other notable look-alikes have been notable solely for resembling well-known individuals, such as Clifton James, who acted as a double for British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery during World War II.

Some look-alikes who have resembled celebrities have worked as entertainers, impersonating them on stage and screen, or at venues like parties and corporate functions. Professional look-alikes have often been represented by talent agencies specializing in celebrity impersonators.[1]

Close physical resemblance between two or more individuals is also a common plot point in works of fiction.

Notable look-alikesEdit

  • In 1944, shortly before D-Day, M. E. Clifton James, who bore a close resemblance to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, was sent to Gibraltar and North Africa, in order to deceive the Germans about the location of the upcoming invasion. This story was the subject of a book and film, I Was Monty's Double.
  • A notable conspiracy theory holds that Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was replaced by a Canadian policeman named William Shears Campbell.
  • In the 1970s, actor-comedian Richard M. Dixon (born James LaRoe), look-alike to then-President Richard Nixon, gained some celebrity, portraying the president in the films, Richard (1972) and The Faking of the President (1976). He also appeared in director Woody Allen's initially unreleased short film Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story (1971).
  • Jeannette Charles has, since the early 1970s, worked as a look-alike to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
  • British stuntman Vic Armstrong acted as Harrison Ford's body double in all the films of the original Indiana Jones trilogy. Reportedly, Armstrong looked so much like Harrison Ford that the crewmembers on set were constantly mistaking him for Ford.[3]
  • Saddam Hussein allegedly employed several look-alikes for political purposes during his Iraq reign. According to a CBS 60 Minutes segment in late January 2008, Saddam Hussein denied to an American interrogator that he had employed doubles.
  • 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.
  • Armando Iannucci's Friday Night Armistice (1996–98) featured "the bus of Dianas", a bus full of Princess Diana look-alikes which was dispatched to "care" at the sites of various minor tragedies.
  • Steve Sires, a look-alike of Microsoft's Bill Gates, came to attention when he attempted to trademark "Microsortof", and subsequently acted in Microsoft commercials. He appeared as Gates in the films Nothing So Strange (2002) and The Social Network (2010).
  • 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".[4]
  • 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'.[5]
  • 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.[6]
  • Two of the Parti Québécois's candidates: Bertrand St-Arnaud and Bernard Drainville[7]
  • 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.
  • Howard X is a professional impersonator who looks like the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Fictional look-alikesEdit


  • In Edgar Allan Poe's short story "William Wilson" (1839), a man is followed by his double.
  • In Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novella The Double (1846), an insecure, gauche government clerk in St. Petersburg, Russia, Yakov Pyotrovich Golyadkin, psychotically encounters a double of himself who looks identical to him but has all the charm, unctuousness, and social skills that he himself lacks.
  • Alexandre Dumas, père's, The Man in the Iron Mask (1850—the third part of Dumas' novel, The Vicomte de Bragelonne) involves King Louis XIV of France and the King's identical twin.
  • In Charles Dickens' novel A Tale of Two Cities (1859), two characters, Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, bear an uncanny resemblance to one another.
  • In The Woman in White (1859), by Wilkie Collins, the protagonist meets two women, Anne Catherick and Laura Fairlie, who strongly resemble one another. (See also Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White in "Illegitimacy in fiction: Victorian".)
  • In Mark Twain's first historical fiction (1882), the novel The Prince and the Pauper, Prince Edward, son of Henry VIII of England, and his pauper look-alike, Tom Canty, trade places.
  • In Anthony Hope's novel The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), a man impersonates a king he closely resembles, after the king is abducted on the eve of his coronation.
  • Bolesław Prus' historical novel Pharaoh (1895) features several cases of look-alikes. The characters include the Haranian Phut (aka the Chaldean priest Berossus) and his look-alike (chapter 20), and the protagonist Ramses and his look-alike and nemesis, Lykon. Also, chapter 33 makes reference to look-alikes of an earlier pharaoh, Ramses the Great.[8]
  • 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.
  • The Living and the Dead, 1954 novel by collaborators Boileau-Narcejac, on which Alfred Hitchcock based his 1958 film Vertigo.
  • 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.
  • In Jack Higgins's 1975 novel The Eagle Has Landed, Nazi German paratroopers attempt to abduct British Prime Minister Winston Churchill from an English village he is visiting. It subsequently transpires that the actual Churchill had been elsewhere while a political decoy visited the village.
  • "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.
  • In Clive Cussler's 1984 novel Deep Six, a double is used after the U.S. president is kidnapped by Korean and Soviet agents.
  • In David Lodge's 1984 novel Small World, the protagonist keeps running into two women, Angelica and Lily, who are identical twin sisters with confusingly different personalities.
  • Christopher Priest's novel The Prestige (1995) features two rival magicians, one of whom uses his twin brother as a double in a disappearing-and-reappearing act.
  • In Neil Gaiman's novel Coraline (2002) the heroine meets up with improved look-alikes of her parents and all her neighbors when she enters the Other Mother's world.
  • José Saramago's 2002 novel The Double traces the intertwining lives of a history teacher and his bit-actor identical double, one of whom ends up dead while the other ends up living with the other's widow.
  • In Christopher Golden's novel Dead Ringers (2015) the main characters find themselves invaded by people exactly like them, but "better" or with malicious intent.
  • In Britain's Private Eye magazine, a long-running satirical feature of the letters section intentionally reversed the captions on look-alike photographs.[9][circular reference]
  • In A.M. Kherbash's novel Lesath (2019) the protagonist is mistaken for an escaped inmate and is incarcerated in a remote facility.



  • In the ABC television series The Double Life of Henry Phyfe (1966), Red Buttons is the title character, a look-alike of a recently deceased foreign agent. A US intelligence agency recruits him to impersonate the agent on multiple occasions, on their behalf, despite his lack of intelligence-gathering skills.
  • In the Inspector Morse two-part episode, "The Settling of the Sun" (1988), a Japanese summer student at Oxford University, Yukio Ley, and his double become victims of murders connected with revenge for Japanese World War II atrocities.
  • 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 The CW's series The Vampire Diaries, doppelgängers were an important arc in the story. The female lead character, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), is a doppelgänger of a thousand-year old immortal named Amara, a descendant named Tatia, and an antagonistic vampire named Katherine Pierce/Katerina Petrova. Their bloodline is called the Petrova Family. The male lead character, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), is also a doppelgänger of Amara's love, Silas, the first immortal. This led to the prophecy that Elena and Stefan, as doppelgängers of the first immortals, are soulmates and are fated to be with each other.
  • The Woman in White: 2018 five-part BBC television adaptation of the sensation novel of the same name by Wilkie Collins. This TV production was preceded by 1966, 1982, and 1997 TV productions.


Video gamesEdit

  • 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 Snake McDonnell 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 Colonel Roy 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.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kent, Simon (2002-05-01). "Odd Jobs: Unusual Ways to Earn a Living" (Paperback). Kogan Page Ltd. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-7494-3705-3. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  2. ^ The Times (London), Friday, 7 July 1893, p. 5.
  3. ^ "Fifty Years of Falling: Meeting the Most Prolific Stuntman of All Time". Vice magazine.
  4. ^ Lucy Rock (January 29, 2006). "From Nobody Much to Someone Special". The Observer. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Dolly Parton Explains How She Lost Dolly Parton Look-a-Like Contest (VIDEO)". Aoltv.com. Retrieved 2012-12-28.
  6. ^ "This American Life from WBEZ, 458: "Play the Part," originally aired 2012-02-17".
  7. ^ "Can you tell Bernard Drainville and Bertrand St-Arnaud apart?". CBC News. April 3, 2014.
  8. ^ Bolesław Prus, Pharaoh, translated from the Polish by Christopher Kasparek, 2nd, revised ed., Warsaw, Polestar Publications, ISBN 83-88177-01-X, and New York, Hippocrene Books, 2001.
  9. ^ Private Eye#Regular sections
  10. ^ Martin Scorsese Presents Masterpieces of Polish Cinema [1]
  11. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Keira Knightley". MSN Movies. Archived from the original on 15 March 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2006.
  12. ^ "Svenalike.co.uk". Svenalike.co.uk. 2005-08-25. Retrieved 2012-12-28.