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Don Wrege of Boulder, Colo., an Ozzy
Osbourne look-alike, grips a beer in one hand and a
stuffed dove in the other Sunday at the Imperial Palace.
Wrege is joined by Tom Sadge of Pittston, Pa., as Neil
Diamond, Sharon Owens of Los Angeles as Barbra
Streisand, and Kileen Kapri of Las Vegas as Britney
Spears at the Second Annual Celebrity Impersonators
Convention, which runs through today.
Photo by K.M.
Celebrity look-alikes Gray Sabatini as
Jacqueline Onassis and Melody Knighton as Lucille Ball
pose with Steve Ostrow as Michael Richards, Kramer from
TV's "Seinfeld" show. Many of the 60 to 70 look-alikes
at the three-day convention earn a living impersonating
Photo by K.M.
Tuesday, June 25, 2002
Copyright © Las
CELEBRITY IMPERSONATORS: Impostors cause double takes
Convention brings some familiar faces
together in Vegas By
When the guy who looked like President
Bush walked into the room and squinted, the guy who looked
like Rodney Dangerfield sought him out so he could tell him a
dirty joke. It was funny, and they both laughed.
Bush and Dangerfield, played respectively
by Brent Mendenhall and William Peterson, ran across each
other Sunday night at the Imperial Palace. The two are in town
as part of the Second Annual Celebrity Impersonators
Convention, a three-day event that ends today.
Snoop Dog, the rapper, and pop star Britney
Spears ate together in a crowded meeting room on the hotel's
Willie Nelson snacked on chicken wings,
Sophia Loren and Dolly Parton hugged like old friends, and two
Michael Jacksons posed for pictures while the packed room
became warmer as the evening progressed.
"You know how it is with Michael Jackson,"
one of them said, wiping sweat from his heavily made-up face.
"I'm afraid my nose is going to fall off."
Many of the 60 to 70 look-alikes in
attendance earn a living impersonating celebrities at
corporate parties or other events. Some said they got into the
business almost by accident.
"This guy came up to me and said, `I can
make you a lot of money,'" said John Allen, a Sean Connery
impersonator who has been in the business about four years. "I
say, `What do I have to do.' He says, `Show up at Donald
Trump's and throw a guy in the pool.' From then on, it's been
Allen said he worked as a sculptor for more
than 20 years in Florida, when his obvious resemblance to the
original James Bond landed him in the spotlight.
Allen said he has doubled for Connery in
commercials and earns a good living.
Don Wrege does not earn a good living
looking like Ozzy Osbourne, despite the heavy metal icon's
recent popularity because of his hit show on MTV.
"It sounded like a giggle to me," said
Wrege, who works for a Boulder, Colo., Internet company. "I'm
just hoping I can find a Sandra Bullock look-alike or
something. That's about as close as I'm ever going to get to
the real thing."
For years, Wrege said, he had been told his
long, straight hair made him look a lot like Osbourne. But it
wasn't until about 2 1/2 weeks ago that he decided to see what
would happen if he intentionally set out to impersonate the
He paid his optometrist $15 to tint his
glasses blue, had his hair cut a little shorter, and bought a
black trench coat and a couple of gold crosses to hang from
Then, as a gag, he put pictures of himself
on the Internet at www.ozzylookalike.com.
That's when Elyse Del Francia called.
Del Francia is a Palm Springs, Calif.,
talent agent who counts more than 650 celebrity look-alikes as
her clients. She organized the convention.
"We're trying to become more professional
in our approach to the industry," she said.
She said the convention was created to
bring impersonators and agents together, with the goal of
becoming more like the long-established Screen Actors Guild,
the actors' union.
As she spoke, one of the most important men
in the industry worked the room, scouting for talent.
"I'm here to see if there's someone we can
develop," said John Stuart, creator and producer of "Legends
in Concert." The show has been at the Imperial Palace since
1983 and is billed as the longest running independently
produced show in town.
"Legends," which features celebrity
impersonators, has shows all over the country. It is the
ultimate gig, according to those at the convention.
Sunday night, the look-alikes got the
opportunity to perform on the "Legends" stage as Stuart
watched and critiqued their performances.
After doing a brief impression of Osbourne,
Wrege was seen leaving the showroom through a side door. He
never found his Sandra Bullock look-alike, but the woman with
him looked a lot like Wynona Judd.