5 Insane Cases of Imposters Passing for World Leaders
Looking like a famous actor or musician means you can probably make a decent living doing impressions, making special appearances or doing porn. Looking like a world leader, though, means you might end up helping win a war, being hunted by foreign governments or ... doing porn.
We're not kidding. All of that happened to the following people, including the porn, whether they liked it or not ...
Fake British Officer Helps Win the Battle of Normandy
Here's how one random dude who happened to look like a British military commander wound up in one of the most epic Nazi-fooling plans ever created.
Gen. Bernard Montgomery was the badass British Army officer responsible for planning the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and thus the intro for every World War II video game ever made. His middle name was literally "Law." On the other hand, M.E. Clifton James (middle name literally "Clifton") was an Australian actor with a slight drinking problem ... who happened to look exactly like Montgomery. British intelligence noticed this, and got an idea.
Left: Gen. Montgomery. Right: His drunken Aussie doppelganger.
It all began when James volunteered for the British Army as an entertainer -- the army was so impressed by his talents that they assigned him to the Pay Corps instead (the guys in charge of paying soldiers). The Aussie, however, was eager to contribute his acting abilities to the war effort, so he signed up for the Pay Corps Drama and Variety Group. It was there that he began performing his impression of Montgomery, which was apparently the highlight of the show.
James' resemblance to Montgomery got him the attention of MI5, who saw in him the perfect opportunity to troll some Nazis. James was flown to London and given the mission to pass himself off as Montgomery in other countries to make the Germans think the Allied invasion would be coming from Southern France, not Normandy. In order to immerse himself in the role, James followed Montgomery for a while, stopped smoking and drinking (the general was abstinent) and even started using a prosthetic finger, since Montgomery had lost a finger on his right hand in World War I.
No, we don't know if it was the middle one. But we think it's pretty safe to just assume that.
With his training complete, James was sent to Gibraltar in Winston Churchill's private plane and began attending parties as Montgomery, running off his mouth about made-up plans in the general proximity of known Nazi spies.
In his book I Was Monty's Double, James claimed that the German high command even planned to assassinate him at one point, believing he was Montgomery, but Hitler himself vetoed the plan until they could learn what he was up to. James then traveled to North Africa, where his mission was to walk around with a real general and point across the Mediterranean while whispering to each other and giggling.
The Nazi spies completely bought the ruse, causing their superiors to shift the armies from the north to the south, clearing the way for Normandy.
"Alright, but next war we have to base our military strategy off of something besides drunken gossip."
James spent the weeks leading up to D-Day hiding in Cairo and presumably opening tabs under Montgomery's name in every Egyptian bar. And then, as recognition for his invaluable service, James was unceremoniously sent back to his crappy Pay Corps job, having to lie to everyone about where he spent the past five weeks. Once the war was over, though, he finally managed to snatch a couple of movie roles -- "Himself" and "General Montgomery" in the 1958 film adaptation of his book.
Latif Yahia Gets Shot 26 Times for Looking Like Saddam Hussein's Son
Going to school with a kid who looks exactly like you can cause a lot of inconveniences, like being punished for shit you didn't do, getting ass kickings meant for someone else ... or, you know, being targeted for assassination by the U.S. military and asked by your employer to shoot a guy in the head. Just ask Latif Yahia, a former school mate of Saddam Hussein's son Uday who ended up becoming his unwitting body double.
That's the double on the right, looking like Uday. And that's Uday on the left, looking like Freddie Mercury.
According to Yahia, in 1988 he was serving his obligatory stint in Iraq's military when his old pal Uday offered him a job as his "fiday," which roughly translates to "similar-looking person who gets shot at instead of me." Yahia initially refused the generous offer, but a week of solitary confinement and nasty threats against his sisters led him to reconsider.
The famous Iraqi Douche medal.
However, being deliberately sent to places where they knew Saddam's son would be a target wasn't even the worst part of his job, because at least he got to be away from Uday. Yahia soon found out that Uday was a psychopath by his own right: One time, he murdered his father's chauffeur in the middle of a party, finishing him off with an electric carving knife in front of numerous world leaders. Another time, Yahia claims Uday put a gun in his hand and ordered him to shoot a guy -- Yahia could only react by turning equally crazy and slitting his own wrists in front of him.
And then, when Uday met a girl who happened to like his double more than him, he repaid Yahia for saving his life all those times by shooting at him.
"Sorry, I thought he was me, and I hate that guy."
In late 1991, Yahia escaped Iraq with the help of the CIA and used his knowledge of the Hussein family to help bring down Saddam's regime. When Uday was killed in a gunfight in 2003, Yahia lamented that he never got to have his revenge ... except when he sold his story to Hollywood for millions, that is.
Hollywood is much less concerned with accurate casting than Saddam's Iraq.
Another double of a Hussein family member was also involved in the film industry, but in a completely different way ...
Saddam Hussein Look-alike Is (Almost) Forced into Porn
Mohamed Bishr knew that looking like Saddam Hussein had its drawbacks: Even after Hussein died, he still got weird looks in the street and was constantly asked to sign South Park and Hot Shots DVDs (or at least that's what we would have done). What he, or anyone else, never could have seen coming was that someone would try to force him to act in a porn movie recreating Saddam's sex life.
One where he's having sex with Saddam himself? We'd buy that.
Saddam reportedly had several official body doubles, but Bishr wasn't one of them -- he was just an Egyptian dude with a similar bone structure and an irrational attachment to his beard. According to Bishr's sons, when Saddam was in hiding, Bishr was even attacked by people who wanted to turn him in and collect the reward. That was probably the most bizarre thing that had happened to Bishr ... until 2011, when he was approached by three Iraqi men in black suits and offered $333,000 to star in a porno. This was either a plan to sell the tape to the media pretending it was real, or a misguided attempt to revive the "Saddam Sex Party" series after the star's untimely death.
"Don't mind me. Just warmin' up my fuck face."
Bishr said no to the offer, but this didn't deter the dedicated would-be film producers. Instead of hiring an actual porn actor and simply sticking a beard on him, a few days later they ambushed Bishr while he was going into a coffee shop and threw him into a van. Bishr says he heard the men arguing about something, possibly the details of the plot, before throwing him out of the moving van and speeding off.
We don't know if we should fear or admire him for still having that beard.
The weirdest part, though? The U.S. military had the same insane idea. Before taking down Saddam in 2003, the CIA considered creating grainy footage of the dictator having sex with a boy to embarrass him. While the plan didn't get very far, the CIA porn-making division did manage to produce at least two films before being shut down: One was a tape of Osama bin Laden drunkenly bragging about how many boys he has bedded, and the other one ...
The CIA Turns the Indonesian President into Unwitting Porn Star
During the Cold War, a considerable percentage of the U.S. national budget went toward enticing the leaders of undecided countries to join their side, either by dispensing gifts and some good-natured extortion or simply by replacing the bastard with a more agreeable guy. One such leader was Sukarno, the first ever president of Indonesia, a nation so poor that for the longest time their presidents could only afford one name.
And half a top hat.
Although Sukarno had been pretty chummy with Eisenhower and Kennedy, the CIA still feared that he was leaning more to the communist side. They needed a subtle and elegant way to discredit him ... and after what must have been an interesting brainstorming session, it was decided that creating a fake sex tape of Sukarno doing it with a Soviet agent would be the safest bet.
It's not like they completely pulled that one out of their asses: There had been rumors in Indonesia that Sukarno was involved with a Russian stewardess. The CIA simply planned to solidify those rumors by hiring a porn actor who looked like Sukarno and filming him having sex with a blonde actress, then distributing the resulting movie in Indonesia. Sukarno would be so humiliated that he would be driven out of office -- according to a CIA agent involved in the production, the idea was to show that "a woman had gotten the better of Sukarno. Being tricked, deceived or otherwise outsmarted by one of the creatures God has provided for man's pleasure cannot be condoned [in Indonesian culture]."
For the blonde actress, they just hired some chick the president knew.
After some trouble locating a close enough Sukarno look-alike in LA's porn scene (they even considered making a Sukarno mask), the CIA cast the role, finished their cinematic masterpiece (titled Happy Days) and started spreading saucy still photos from it across the Far East. However, the people of Indonesia either didn't buy the hoax or didn't give a shit -- presumably the only consequence for Sukarno was that men were suddenly high-fiving him in the street and complimenting his porn-star-sized dong.
"Come on, man. You gotta whip it out. I have to know."
If anything, the incident only brought Sukarno closer to China and the Soviets, since in the following years he received more communist aid, opened more facilities to them and even got the coveted Lenin Peace Prize. Indonesia remained an important Soviet ally until 1967, when the CIA apparently said "screw it" and just replaced the guy with another dude.
Stalin and Hitler's Doubles
Despotic rulers are apparently the number one employers in the doppelganger sector, what with their tendency to be both paranoid lunatics (who think everyone wants to kill them) and major assholes (that everyone really does want to kill). Not every dictator double, however, gets to have as much fun as those starring in porn movies -- in fact some of them got a pretty shitty deal.
Take Felix Dadaev, one of Stalin's four doubles, who wasn't so much recruited into the job as kidnapped and sent off to shake hands with foreign dignitaries. Dadaev, who was only in his 20s at the time, was "discovered" after being wounded so badly during World War II that they actually declared him dead. Fortunately, he got better, but his resemblance to 60-year-old Stalin (which got him teased in school) caught the eye of Russian intelligence agents, who started using him to save the real Stalin from assassination plots and lame public ceremonies.
That's the decoy on the right, playing the propaganda equivalent of that guy who shakes the sign outside of Little Caesars.
In the meantime, Dadaev was forbidden from contacting his family, who still believed him dead, and in fact waited until 2008 to tell anyone what he did. Why? He still feared that the KGB (or Stalin's ghost) might kill him.
Today he serves as a living computer simulation of what Stalin would look like at age 90.
But even Dadaev got off easy compared to Hitler's double Gustav Weler, who ended up taking a bullet to the head around the same time Hitler did, if only for the sake of accuracy. Weler was initially used as a decoy for Hitler for security reasons -- apparently, when the Nazi high command learned that the Soviets were approaching, they realized they might be slightly less eager to stomp the shit out of Germany if they thought Hitler was already dead ... at which point everyone presumably looked at the current Hitler double on the payroll and smiled.
Weler, or at least someone who looked conveniently like Hitler, was killed off and found by Red Army troops, who temporarily stopped their march to take pictures and pose with the body. Even today, the double's image is still sometimes mistakenly credited as Hitler's actual corpse.
That's how good this guy was at imitating people.
According to a servant who was present at the bunker, though, the dead guy was actually just a cook who happened to be sporting a Hitler 'stache and was "assassinated due to his strong likeness to Hitler." Of course, all this trickery turned out to be useless, because we all know what happened next: Hitler was shot to death by the Inglourious Basterds.
For more on who is who and what is what, check out The 6 Most Impressive Cases of Identity Theft Ever Pulled Off and 6 Real People With Secret Identities Nobody Saw Coming.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover which columnist dresses up like Kristi and cooks for her family.
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