An impersonator is someone who imitates or copies the behavior 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, 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

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. 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.

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

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.[3][4][5][6]

Notable impersonators

Criminal impersonation

Although in a recent 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.[7] The ruling hinges on whether there was harm to the other person.

See also


  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. Los Angeles Times, Apr 11, 2018 - Golden Knights give Vegas a real sense of community
  4. Billboard, May 9, 1998 - Page 60 Newsmakers, Now The Real Thing.
  5. The Star, Saturday, 7 Jul 2007 - Warren makes time for grandson by Stuart Michael
  6. Sheffield Star, Wednesday 28 April 2010 - Stars shine for Sam Sorono at hospice fundraiser - VIDEO
  7. "Using false S.S. number not impersonation". UPI. October 28, 2010.
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