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1.27.2010

It's Doppelganger Week

Over in Facebook there's a game going on that goes like this:
Post a picture of someone famous who people have said you look like.

This game has been kind of fun, so I thought I'd bring it into Blogsville.

I've had many looks through the years. From the elfin teenager with the Beatle haircut to the sort of nondescript middle-ager I am today, I've tried on a whole lot of images. I've also been mistaken for a couple of people, which stories I'd like to share with you.

The first time I heard that I had a double was when I was a sophomore in high school. Someone came up to me all angry, asking me why I didn't say hi to them that morning in town. I told them I'd been in school all day and they said that they saw someone who looked exactly like me. That weirded me out and the concept of having a doppelganger came home to stay.

My first real experience was in 1977. I had my first credit cards, one which was at Joseph Magnin in Ventura. Magnin's was an upscale place that made me feel successful. They had some great clothes, an extensive petites section, and I was 26 and making good money as a camera operator at a television studio. I had just gotten my first "disco" perm and I looked hot. One afternoon while shopping, the girl at the jewelry counter asked me for my autograph.

"Who do you think I am?" I asked.
"You're Laraine Newman," she whispered.
"I'm not. Sorry."

I didn't really take it as a compliment. Laraine Newman, though funny on SNL, wasn't at all how I imagined myself looking. And I was sooo into my looks during that period.


"Don't worry," she said. "I won't tell anyone that you're here, but if you need anything, just let me know."

I let it pass and later, when I'd found some things I wanted to try on, the same girl took me to the dressing room that they reserved for wedding dress fittings. It was huge--about 30-feet square--and looked more like an 18th-century French salon than it did a dressing room. She asked me if I wanted anything to drink, but I said no thanks and she left. Thinking that being mistaken for someone famous might not be so bad for a little while, I let it go, enjoying trying on clothes in first class.

A couple of years later, Joel and I flew to Kansas to spend Christmas with Micah and my Ex. Well, it was really to spend some time with Micah, but, well, you know, the two went together in those days. Micah was about four at the time. One evening Bill came in carrying a copy of Bette Midler's Divine Madness album as a Christmas gift for me. I was wearing bigger makeup at that time and actively performing in clubs and such with my blues band. Micah looked at the LP cover, then at me, then the cover again, and he pointed at Bette with a huge smile on his face and said, "Mama!"

Fast-forward a number of years. Gone was the perm and the big makeup and flashy clothes. I was living in Colorado and I had a more natural look (i.e. "soft dyke", but you didn't hear me say that, did you?) and I wore wire-rimmed glasses. Stargate had just been released and I sometimes went to The Detour in downtown Denver. The Detour was a lesbian bar that was straight-friendly, and they served the best hamburgers in town. One night while sitting there minding my own business, a woman sat down next to me and said, "You look just like James Spader," which I kind of liked hearing at the time. I could handle that, no problem. It was just before middle-age, Hashimoto's  and menopause hit me and I was enjoying the last bloom of my peak years.

A few years later, after I'd moved back to Ventura and was sitting in an outdoor cafe with my partner at the time, a couple walked by, waved, and the guy said, "Hi Penny!" My partner and I just laughed because she'd told me many times that when I went out with a ball cap and sunglasses on to walk my dog, that's who I looked like.

With the exception of Spader, people always think I look like an enormously talented, brilliant Jewish woman, which doesn't suck. I'm flattered, really.

So, who do people say you resemble?

19 comments :

  1. One person said I looked like Janis Joplin, but I don't see it. I have been told a number of times when I first move to a new place that I look "just like so-and-so who moved away last month". It can't be the same "so-and-so", I don't think, and either I wasn't told or don't remember the name of the person I'm supposed to look like.

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  2. As I posted on facebook, I've been told I look "just like" Sandy Duncan.

    I've had the experience of people thinking I"m someone else so often that I wish I could meet my "twin". People would come up to me and say, "How did you get over here so fast? I just saw you over at the Student Union!" I had no idea what they were talking about!
    Then the person realized I was someone else.

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  3. Deni: I always thought you held a resemblance to Sally Field.

    Kathy: Now that's weird! Yeah, I can see the Sandy Duncan thing.

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  4. For the first time in my life I now have long hair. So I get The Dude from The Big Lebowski all the time...which, honestly, is what I was going for when I decided to grow it long.

    I'm just a bit more grey than The Dude was. OK...a lot more grey.

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  5. I used to get Barbra Streisand when I was in my 20s but I think that was just the nose. ;)

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  6. Earl: That's just freakin' awesome.

    Hilary: I think mine is a nose thing too, as well as the red hair. Barbra--cool! I've often thought you look like someone, but I haven't been able to place just who. Hard to tell from one picture though.

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  7. When I was in high school, people used to tell me I look like Belinda Carlisle of the Go Go's. I think that is about as close as I got to looking like someone else.

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  8. Deni: You are infinitely more beautiful than Janice was. You have what I have always thought of as a soft ethereal beauty.

    Earl: Dude! That's freakin awesome.

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  9. Ville: Mare Winningham without the funky mouth. And she's a Gemini too.

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  10. Heh-heh, I do this every day on my blog!

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  11. I have been told that I look like Lana Turner and Marilyn Monroe. When I was in college I went to a Halloween Costume dance dressed as Blondie. I had the hair, the make-up, the spiked heels, the skin-tight leather pants (and the figure to pour into them), and I'm not kidding you, EVERYONE knew immediately who I was supposed to be. I got a lot of double-takes that night and I also won first prize. :D

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  12. Definitely Penny..and you're funny too!
    I got Nancy Sinatra a lot, had an odd incident in Athens, they insisted..shoulda called my Dad..
    also Mia Farrow, after Rosemary's Baby..Oh, another Sinatra connection..just realised .. what gives??

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  13. Lynette: Don't forget Christina Ebersole, who played Katerina Cavalieri in 'Amadeus'.

    Lyn: Wow, two Sinatra hits!

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  14. Ville: What a lovely thing to say! I'm all verklempt!

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  15. Whenever I'm in Home Depot, people ask me if I work there, so I probably most resemble a Home Depot employee ;)

    Next time I'm leaving the orange apron home!

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  16. I went to a costume party dressed as Carol Burnett doing her scrub-woman act - and everyone said I looked just like her in that role. I just remembered that.

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  17. Priceless, this trip down memory lane, the fast lane of course!

    Me, I've been mistaken for my brother once (because I walk like him)...I was maybe 13 and I was crushed! Nothing comes to mind, til someone said I look like Annette Bening and lately M (you know, James Bond's boss, Judi Dench (not Octopussy girl)...must be the jowls. Mike was sweet...he said I had Rene Zellwegers eyes...

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  18. Annette Bening makes me smile.

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  19. I think Dame Judy Dench is one of the most beautiful women in the world.

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