is a living person who closely resembles another living person. In popular Western culture, a look-alike is a person who bears a close physical resemblance to a celebrity
or member of royalty
. Many look-alikes earn a living by making guest appearances at public events or performing on television or film, playing the person they resemble. A large variety of different celebrity lookalike images can be found throughout the web including professional agencies offering their services such as Lookalikes.net
Look-alikes have also figured prominently at least since the 19th century in literature, and in the 20th and 21st centuries in film.
- Mikheil Gelovani, a Georgian actor and Joseph Stalin look-alike, played the Soviet leader in propaganda films of the 1930s and 1940s. In 2008, 88-year-old Felix Dadaev, a former dancer and juggler, disclosed that he had been one of four look-alikes whom Stalin had employed as decoys to mislead enemies and potential assassins (there in fact were attempts on Stalin's life — two at Yalta alone).
- Charlie Chaplin once during the '30s went to a Charlie Chaplin-look-alike competition and ended in third place.
- In 1944, shortly before D-Day, M.E. Clifton James, who bore a close resemblance to Field Marshall 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 M. Nixon, gained some celebrity, portraying the president in the films, Richard (1972) and The Faking of the President (1976). He also appeared in the unreleased short film Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story.
- Jeannette Charles has, since the early 1970s, worked as a look-alike to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
- Saddam Hussein allegedly employed several look-alikes for political purposes during his Iraq reign, though this has been disputed by some analysts. 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.
- Since the year 2001, the UK's most successful lookalike has been Derek Williams ("Svenalike") as Sven-Goran Eriksson's lookalike/soundalike double who was selected by TheFA as a stand in for Eriksson at VIP receptions and for Official pre-match Hospitality and has achieved widespread acclaim and the most extensive TV, film and video exposure of any celebrity double in recent history.
- Armando Ianucci'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 became especially famous for his role in the 2002 film, Nothing So Strange, in which his character makes a speech, looks up and is assassinated.
- UK Big Brother contestant Chantelle Houghton once worked briefly and unsuccessfully for a look-alike agency as a Paris Hilton look-alike, earning her the nickname "Paris Travelodge". After Houghton won series 4 of Celebrity Big Brother, the same agency had already signed up another more authentic and professional model as a Paris Hilton look-alike, who was briefly also offered as a fake "Chantelle".
- UK Richard and Judy ran a competition for Little Britain Lookalikes in 2005 and after the live final broadcast on Friday January 28th 2005 on Channel Four Two winning contestants Gavin Pomfret and Stuart Morrison formed a Little Britain Tribute act called Littler Britain who due to their popularity on Myspace and Facebook have become the most popular lookalikes in the world.
- Alexandre Dumas, père's The Man in the Iron Mask (1850; the third part of Dumas' novel, The Vicomte de Bragelonne), involving King Louis XIV of France and an identical twin.
- Charles Dickens' novel, A Tale of Two Cities (1859), two of whose characters, Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, look nearly identical.
- Mark Twain's first historical fiction (1882) — the novel, The Prince and the Pauper, in which Prince Edward, son of Henry VIII of England, and his pauper look-alike, Tom Canty, trade places.
- Anthony Hope's novel, The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), in which a man impersonates a king whom he closely resembles, when the king is abducted by enemies on the eve of his coronation.
- Bolesław Prus' novel, Pharaoh (1895), whose 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 refers to look-alikes of an earlier pharaoh, Ramses the Great.
- Georg Kaiser's 1917 play The Coral depicts a powerful industrialist whose male secretary is his exact double. The secretary's duties include occasionally impersonating the industrialist at public functions. Other employees can tell the two men apart only by the fact that the secretary always wears a coral watch-fob.
- Robert Heinlein's novel Double Star (1956), in which a down-and-out actor first portrays, then replaces, a powerful political figure.
- 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 where he is visiting. It is subsequently revealed that Churchill had been elsewhere while a political decoy had been visiting the village.
- In Clive Cussler's 1984 novel Deep Six, a double is used after the U.S. president is kidnapped by Korean and Soviet agents.
- Christopher Priest's novel, The Prestige (1995), about two rival magicians, one of whom uses his twin brother as a double in a disappearing-and-reappearing act.
- Charles Dickens' novel A Tale of Two Cities (see "Literature," above) has been produced as three film versions between 1911 and 1958, as well as television and stage adaptations.
- Anthony Hope's novel The Prisoner of Zenda (see "Literature", above) has been the basis for many film and stage adaptations, the first film version being in 1913; the best-known film version is John Cromwell's 1937 film.
- Mark Twain's novel The Prince and the Pauper (see "Literature," above) has been the basis for many film and stage adaptations, the earliest film version being in 1920.
- Alexandre Dumas, père's, The Man in the Iron Mask (see "Literature," above) has been adapted into eight film versions between 1929 and 1998.
- The 1932 musical film The Phantom President depicts a man who is eminently qualified to be President of the United States but who is unlikely to be elected because he is dull and lacks charisma. Fortunately, he has an exact double: a patent-medicine salesman and vaudeville hoofer who is a charismatic campaigner but has no actual political qualifications. The film cynically suggests that most American voters would prefer the latter to the former. Both roles are played by legendary song-and-dance man George M. Cohan. Although a weak movie, The Phantom President is historically significant as the only film record of Cohan's song-and-dance performance.
- In The Falcon's Brother (1942) George Sanders plays the Falcon, and his look-alike brother Tom Conway plays the Falcon's brother. In subsequent Falcon films, Conway appears as the Falcon.
- Jerzy Kawalerowicz's film Pharaoh (1966) is adapted from Bolesław Prus' novel, Pharaoh (see "Literature", above).
- In The Eagle Has Landed (1976), based on Jack Higgins's novel, German paratroopers attempt in 1943 to abduct Prime Minister Winston Churchill from an English village. It is subsequently revealed that Churchill had been elsewhere while a political decoy had been visiting the village.
- In Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha (1980), the warlord Takeda Shingen (1521–73) is sometimes impersonated by his brother Nobukado. Nobukado saves a thief who is to be executed, because the man bears an astonishing resemblance to Shingen. The thief becomes a kagemusha (shadow warrior) and learns the role of Daimyo Shingen, who is subsequently killed by an enemy sniper. The false identity of the kagemusha is revealed when he is unable to ride Lord Shingen's favorite horse; but in the final battle at Nagashino the kagemusha accepts his role and fights as the last man holding the banner of the Takeda clan.
- Paul Mazursky's film Moon over Parador (1988), in which a man who is filming in a fictional country in Latin America called Parador, is forced to play the role of the country's late president, whom he closely resembles.
- Gary Ross' film Dave (1993), in which an impersonator is hired by the president's Chief of Staff as a temporary decoy.
- The 2002 film Bubba Ho-Tep starred Bruce Campbell in the role of an elderly Elvis Presley who had traded places with an Elvis impersonator named Sebastian Haff (also played by Campbell), and now lived in a nursing home.
- The 2005 film Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith features actor Wayne Pygram, who, in the film, looks remarkably like Peter Cushing. Through stock footage, the film's producers wanted Cushing to reprise his role of Grand Moff Tarkin from Star Wars. However, the footage was deemed unusable.
- The Prestige (2006), directed by Christopher Nolan, and adapted from the novel by Christopher Priest, in which two rival magicians employ doubles in their astonishing disappearing-reappearing acts.
- Vikramarkudu (2006), Tollywood film in which Ravi Teja plays a dual role.
- The film Goal! 3 is set during the 2006 soccer World Cup and features convincing look-alike doubles including Derek Williams for Sven-Goran Eriksson, Frank Lampard and others who blend the transition from archive footage of the tournament with the fictional action depicted.
- In Vantage Point (2008), a decoy helps protect the president from a possible assassination threat — and is shot. The film claims that "doubles have been used since Reagan."