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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 behaviour 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 (see Elvis impersonator), Michael Jackson (see Michael Jackson impersonator), Abraham Lincoln, and Lenin. Entertainers who impersonate multiple celebrities as part of their act, can be sorted into impressionists and celebrity impersonators.
  • 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.
  • Companionship: a rental family service provides actors portraying friends or family for platonic purposes.

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 entertainers who look similar to celebrities and dress in such a way as to imitate them. Impersonators are known as 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. There are claimed to be more Elvis impersonators and tribute artists in the world than for any other celebrity.[citation needed]

Edward Moss has appeared in movies and sitcoms, impersonating Michael Jackson.[2]

Notable impersonators[edit]

Criminal impersonation[edit]

Although in a recent 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 this is not an actual crime. The ruling hinges on whether there was harm to the other person.[3]

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. ^ "Using false S.S. number not impersonation". UPI. October 28, 2010.