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Identity/Imposters
Baseball fans attending the recent Fan Fest in New York City had the chance to get memorabilia signed by C. Yeager of the Phillies. The problem: there is no "C. Yeager" playing for the Phillies. The man in the Phillies uniform was really just a guy who likes to dress up as a ballplayer so that, for a few minutes, he can enjoy the adulation of kids... before the police haul him away.

The Sporting Blog (who has video of the guy signing anything people stuck in front of him) writes: "He works for a regional sports media company in Philly and never played ball beyond high school."

I assume "C. Yeager" was a fake name.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Sports
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 15, 2008
Comments (7)
Kate Beckinsale goes by "Sigourney Beaver." Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, when together, were "Mr and Mrs Ross Vegas." And Johnny Depp uses "Mr. Stench."

These are some of the check-in pseudonyms that Hollywood stars use to remain anonymous when registering at hotels.

The only time I ever use a pseudonym is when asked to fill in info for things like online surveys or grocery store cards. Then I'm always "Eric Blair." But I'm thinking of switching to Hugo N. Frye.
Categories: Celebrities, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 20, 2008
Comments (23)
Another case of an impostor is in the news. A woman in Somerville, Mass. thought she was dating Jeff Turner, a former basketball player for the Washington Seattle Sonics. Turns out she was actually dating an impostor named Ronnie Craven. Craven's cover was blown when the woman became suspicious, tracked down the real Jeff Turner, and called him. Craven admits to the hoax, but says he only did it to impress the woman. In other words, he claims he was only trying to benefit sexually, not financially, from the scheme. However, it appears he had also been telling friends and even his hometown newspaper that he worked for the Sonics. From seattlepi.com:

"I'll admit, it was a hoax," Craven said Monday. "It was all a put-on. But somebody who I met on a dating site is trying to sabotage me. This is some broad that I lied to who said I did identity theft, (and) I am not going to know what hit me. There was no intimacy in the relationship. I never tapped her."...
Craven insisted he would stop lying about his identity. He said this situation would damage his reputation in Somerville. He said he was merely lying to impress a woman, nothing more. But this time his game went too far.
"To be honest with you, this whole thing has already taken its toll," he said.
"I know my credibility doesn't look so great right now. This is embarrassing for me. At this point, I don't know what to do. I will say this is very, very disturbing."

You gotta love how guys like Craven (which is a perfect name for him) rationalize their deception. He figures it was okay to lie to the woman because he hadn't "tapped her."

Impostors often pose as sports stars. Just a few months ago I posted about a guy who, for decades, pretended to be Red Sox's pitcher Bill Henry. Not even his wife knew the truth. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Sex/Romance, Sports
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 05, 2008
Comments (7)
Tammi Parteet was worried since she hadn't heard from her husband. So she decided to call him at Piedmont Hospital, where he worked as a doctor. WSBTV.com relates what happened next:

She called him on his Piedmont cell phone, the one he told her was for emergencies. A staff member picked up. "I said, 'I'm trying to locate my husband, Dr. Perteet.' And she said, 'Dr. who? We don't have a Dr. Perteet.' And she says, 'Are you talking about the guy that had this cell phone?' And I said 'yes.' And she says, 'Oh, he was arrested last night for impersonating a doctor,'" Tammi Perteet said.

Although her husband is now in jail, he still maintains he really is a doctor... and an electrical engineer as well. Sounds like he's also a skilled actor. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Health/Medicine, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 03, 2008
Comments (9)
Becky Miller, Mayor of Carrollton in Texas, claims that she once sang backup for Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne, and was once engaged to Don Henley. Problem is, none of these people have ever heard of her.

She also claims that her brother was killed in Vietnam. However, her father says that her brother is still alive in Maryland and was never in the service.

And Western Kentucky University can't find any record of her attendance, despite her insistence that she was a student there.

Clearly Mayor Miller is developing a bit of a credibility problem, so it's a good thing she's in politics. She should go far. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Thu May 08, 2008
Comments (11)
From the March 19th edition of the Mahoning Valley Tribune Chronicle:

It was incorrectly reported in Tuesday’s Tribune Chronicle that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton answered questions from voters in a local congressman’s office.
Reporter John Goodall, who was assigned to the story, spoke by telephone with Hillary Wicai Viers, who is a communications director in U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson’s staff. According to the reporter, when Viers answered the phone with ‘‘This is Hillary,’’ he believed he was speaking with the Democratic presidential candidate, who had made several previous visits to the Mahoning Valley. The quotes from Viers were incorrectly attributed to Clinton.

You have to wonder how a reporter could be that clueless. Did he seriously imagine that Hillary Clinton would be there answering the phones? Or maybe he knew it wasn't Clinton, but thought it would make the story sound better if he attributed the quotes to her, and that no one would ever know the difference.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Journalism, Politics
Posted by Alex on Sun Mar 23, 2008
Comments (8)
Stephanie Pain has an interesting article in this week's New Scientist about Dr. James Barry, a nineteenth-century British doctor who may have been a woman. She writes:

MYSTERY, intrigue, romance... the story of Dr Barry has them all. The tale is so compelling it's been told countless times, yet no one has ever solved the central mystery: who was Barry, the pint-sized physician with the sandy curls and squeaky voice? The doctor was both caring and quarrelsome, dainty yet dashing. He fought for better conditions for the troops, shot a man in a duel and faced a court martial, yet still made it to the top of his profession.
Barry had sprung from nowhere to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1809, and might have returned to obscurity if he hadn't fallen victim to the epidemic of dysentery that swept London in the summer of 1865. He had no known relatives, so the job of preparing his body for burial fell to Sophia Bishop, the charwoman at Barry's lodgings. When the funeral was over, Bishop dropped a bombshell: the distinguished army doctor was a woman.

The debate about Barry's gender has been going on ever since 1865. Short of exhuming the body, there was no good way to settle the debate. But new evidence was recently found which indicates, pretty conclusively, that Barry was a woman. The evidence consists of letters from 1809 in which Barry's family solicitor identifies Barry as "Miss Bulkley."

However, Barry's motives still remain unclear. Did she pose as a man purely for economic reasons? Or was she a transsexual who felt that her true identity was as a man?
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 12, 2008
Comments (19)
One week after Misha Defonseca confessed that she didn't really grow up with wolves, as she claimed in her memoir of her childhood in war-torn Europe, another literary hoax has surfaced.

Love and Consequences, by Margaret B. Jones, purports to be a non-fiction memoir of the author's life "as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods."

In reality, as the NY Times reports: "Margaret B. Jones is a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, who is all white and grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, with her biological family. She graduated from the Campbell Hall School, a private Episcopal day school in the North Hollywood neighborhood. She has never lived with a foster family, nor did she run drugs for any gang members. Nor did she graduate from the University of Oregon, as she had claimed."

Seltzer offers the usual excuse: It's true in a vague, metaphorical sense. The things she describes really do happen. They just didn't happen to her.

Seltzer was outed by her older sister who saw an article about her in last week's NY Times. I predict there's going to be some awkward Thanksgiving dinners for that family in the future.

Seltzer's publisher has cancelled her book tour and is recalling all copies of the book.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 04, 2008
Comments (9)
What we can say with certainty is that Robert Irvine is the host of the Food Network's show Dinner: Impossible. I've watched this before and found it entertaining. Though Irvine comes across as pretty arrogant.

However, many other facts about Irvine's career have now been called into question. For instance, in the past Irvine has claimed that he was knighted by the Queen, that he owns a castle in Scotland, that he cooked at the White House, and that he created the wedding cake for Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

None of this, it turns out, is true.

A Food Network spokeswoman says, "It's unfortunate if Robert embellished the extent of his culinary experiences. We are investigating the matter and taking the necessary steps to ensure the accuracy of all representations of Robert on Food Network and foodnetwork.com."

I'm sure that'll be the extent of the Food Network's reprimand of him, since his show is too popular to cancel.

Links: sptimes.com; Daily Mail. (Thanks to Joe Littrell for the heads up about this.)
Categories: Celebrities, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 22, 2008
Comments (6)
Remarries, to be exact. From Yahoo! News:

Sheila Smith's husband, Bob, had to go away on business and couldn't make the Valentine's Day recommitment service at Grove City United Methodist Church. So friends brought a life-size inflatable doll to serve as a stand-in. They dressed Blow-up Bob in dress pants, a shirt and tie, and taped on a head-shot photo of the real Bob Smith.

There's definitely an emerging trend of cardboard or inflatable spouses. Usually it involves military spouses who are stationed abroad.

For instance, back in Dec. 2005 I posted about the Husband Mannequin -- Suzy Walker's stand-in for her husband serving on the USS West Virginia.

Then in Sep. 2006 there was a story going around about Flat Daddys and Flat Mommys -- cardboard cutouts of deployed service members that the military was providing to families. (There are posts about it in both the main blog and the forum.)

I'd be curious to know how old this practice is. Did women back in World War II create husband mannequins?
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 21, 2008
Comments (4)
A few days ago papers reported a weird news item about Charleston mayor Danny Jones who used a picture of himself in Charleston magazine to ID himself before boarding an airplane.

Turns out that "impromptu IDs" are a perennial urban-legend theme. The Legends & Rumors blog has collected a long list of them.

The examples include a case of a porn star who showed a nude picture of herself in a magazine to ID herself while cashing a check, as well as a nineteenth-century case of a man who used his name written on his shirt flap as ID in a bank.

Of course, this doesn't mean that the story about Mayor Jones is false. But it does make it a little more questionable.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 01, 2008
Comments (8)
Russian election draws eccentric candidates
Four empresses are running, as well as a tsar.

Fake tickets offer strange message
Police in Boulder are warning drivers to be on the lookout for fake parking tickets that bear this cryptic message: "The foregoing is falsely alleged upon personal initiative. This ticket hereby notes discredibility. Remember: Things could be worse. Get over yourself."

I'm Not Dead Yet
Polish resident Piotr Kucy is trying to convince officials that he isn't dead, but the bureaucrats are proving hard to convince.

Con Artist Poses as Heath Ledger's Dad
Soon after Heath Ledger died, a man claiming to be his father contacted Tom Cruise and John Travolta, seeking emotional support and free plane tickets. Why he contacted Cruise and Travolta, I don't know. Was Heath Ledger a scientologist?
Categories: Death, Identity/Imposters, Politics
Posted by Alex on Wed Jan 30, 2008
Comments (2)
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