Impostors In Plain Sight

What are you hiding?

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Impostors In Plain Sight
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Impostors In Plain Sight

From Frank Abagnale in "Catch Me If You Can" to "The Return of Martin Guerre" to "The Music Man," we are entertained and amused by stories of impostors.

We can also be incredibly, deeply creeped out by them.
 
The more you know of these stories, the more you realize that you might be fooled by somebody really good, especially if you had some reason for wanting the false story to be true.
 
And, beyond that, there's the sense that identity may be more fluid than we like to think.
 
Some the stories you'll hear on this show involve people who got so deep into their fake roles that they really did appear to leave their old identities behind.
 
With a heavily publicized documentary about a young impostor coming to a theater near you, we decided to probe that story and some others like it, from the 19th century to the 21st. 
 
Leave your comments below, e-mail colin@wnpr.org or Tweet us@wnprcolin.

  

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EMAIL FROM PENELOPE:

As a reporter, I have certainly seen my fair share of imposters. But for me, no one will ever top Gary Treadway. I met him while doing a political profile of him when he was running for City Council in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was one of these 60's political firebrands who couldn't stay away from politics, and public service, even though it landed him in prison. He had been convicted under Nixon's anti riot act for fire bombing an ROTC building at Washington University after the Kent State shootings. He went on the run before his sentencing. He assumed a new name and hopped on a bus to Tucson and started a new life. But 25 years later, he couldn't resist the urge to return to politics, even know he was wanted by the US Marshals Service. His campaign unraveled when I found out that he had lied about his college education. Eventually, we published his whole story. I felt bad for him, because he was a nice guy, and I'm not sure that prison was where he really belonged. He eventually got a presidential pardon. I think, in the end, and despite a short prison stint, he was relieved not to have to lie anymore.