Of course it wasn’t. Gene doesn’t hang out around here too much, I understand. Although, it’s not beyond possibility. A reporter friend was grabbing a quick coffee in a local bistro and realized Angela Lansbury was sitting there enjoying a cuppa. Another time a woman phoned the paper in a state of near-hysteria because when she stopped at a local farm market she realized the guy in front of her was Mel Gibson. That was back when Mel was still a heartthrob and before he became drunken Bigotry-Central USA. And finally, a friend who is quite proud to be AA happened to attend a meeting a few miles north of here and realized one of the visitors at the meeting was a guy named Eric Clapton. Don’t worry, I can blow Clapton’s anonymity as he speaks openly about his membership in that fine organization.
Anyway, the aforementioned are all legitimate sightings in this otherwise relatively insignificant community on Vancouver Island. On the other hand, the guy at the concert was ‘not’ Gene Hackman. But – and we have seen him around before – he is such a lookalike they could be identical twins. He is, of course, a doppelganger.
The only problem with doppelgangers is that you’re never quite sure. You see somebody who is the spit of a noted personality and you can be nonplused. Sometimes the person in question can carry it off with élan. I was once sitting in a hotel bar in Exeter England, nursing a solitary pint. The man sitting across from me at the large table looked remarkably like English comic actor Leslie Phillips. I tried to not be obtrusive as I cast the odd glance in his direction. I mean, you don’t want to be too overt glancing at a strange man in a pub.
“Before you ask,” he said, looking at me, “Yes I am.”
How cool is that, I thought. Such a nice courtesy.
But, as I said about the man the other evening, he is not Gene Hackman so there is no point in me saying: “You were just great in The French Connection. In the first place, he has probably heard the line a million times, and in the second place it would simply be rude on my part.
So, do any of you have a famous doppelganger? I have had two in my life. The first one I hinted at the other day was Buddy Holly, but I think that was only about the glasses. The other, and this was when I was in my early 20s, was actor Robert Mitchum. I was flattered by the Mitchum comparison because he is one of my favorite underappreciated actors, and in all honesty I could see it – slightly. But, even that is a bit strange. I was once at a house party at which we were discussing look-alikes. I mentioned the Mitchum thing. “That’s not right,” said one of the women present. “Steve (her husband) looks like Mitchum.” I looked at Steve and, by God, I could see it. So, we asked for an objective appraisal of our respective Mitchum-nesses. We had, in effect, a Mitchum-off. Most present could see it in both of us, even though Steve and I don’t really look remotely alike.
Weird, that. But, at least there is some solace in not being seen as a Charles Laughton doppelganger.