Las Vegas. It is the city of sin, the entertainment capital of the world, and a place where nothing is as it seems – including the people.
Celebrity impersonators, born from earliest look-alikes of the 1940s and the impressionists of the 1970s, found their true home on the Strip. With a flair for the dramatic, they embody larger-than-life personalities and talents. In a sense, they even bring beloved stars back from the dead.
So what does it take to be an impersonator? Above all else, you need the look – not just any look but the look of the right celebrity. Think big – as in, Donald Trump, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Barack Obama, who all have a devoted impersonator following in Las Vegas.
We averaged the faces of Las Vegas impersonators to create composite images of the perfect celebrity impersonator. Do you think these faces pass the test?
The Average Face of a Donald Trump Impersonator
You love him, you hate him, or you love to hate him. Of all the celebrities impersonated in Vegas, Donald Trump is easily the most polarizing.
The key to his look lies within his face – his round cheeks, protruding lower lip, bronze makeup, and signature coif of blonde hair.
The demand for Trump look-alikes has risen exponentially since his run for president, with top impersonators getting up to six calls a day asking for The Donald. And the gigs pay anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 a pop.
Whether that price point will stick depends on what happens this November. At any rate, Trump impersonators should enjoy it while it lasts.
The Average Face of an Elvis Impersonator
The date was January 8, 1935. The location was a small town in Mississippi. There, the King was born.
Elvis Presley’s first RCA single, “Heartbreak Hotel,” swept the nation into a frenzy. When he married at the Aladdin Hotel in 1967, so began a tradition of eloping in Vegas; it was a city to which he once seemed unlikely to return, after a particularly rough performance in 1956.
However, he regained his steam with a legendary run of 636 consecutive sellout shows from 1969 to 1976, firing up an army of impersonators even while he was still alive. With their slicked-back hair, studded jumpsuits, flashy glasses, and pinky rings, Elvis impersonators are the most popular in Sin City – not surprisingly, considering the man was the most iconic entertainer to ever grace Las Vegas.
The Average Face of a Marilyn Monroe Impersonator
Marilyn Monroe may have died more than half a century ago, but she lives on in 21st-century pop culture – and on the Vegas Strip.
The blonde bombshell is everywhere – models, celebrities, and everyday people imitate her platinum locks, vibrant red lips, curvy body, and the mole just above the curve of her smile.
In all corners of Las Vegas, Marilyn’s sultry, breathy voice can be heard from impersonators, most of whom appeal to younger audiences that have likely never seen the starlet’s films. According to the Las Vegas Sun, most know Monroe as a style icon and the “ultimate hourglass figure,” not the silver screen babe who burned hot and bright.
The Average Face of a Barack Obama Impersonator
In many cases, President Barack Obama doesn’t need an impersonator to pull off some seriously funny appearances, but the commander in chief can’t be everywhere at once, seeing as he has a country to run.
Enter a sea of Obama impersonators – though it’s hard to imagine they are all 6-foot-1 men with the president’s signature ears and wide smile. Nevertheless, they stand at the ready with their suits, American-flag pins, and down-to-earth confidence.
The Top 20 Vegas Faces
Elvis Presley tops the list of the most popular figures impersonated in Las Vegas, followed by Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, and Marilyn Monroe. Though these celebs have all died, their legacies live on, and impersonators help give their fans one more experience with their favorite stars.
Musicians lead the pack, accounting for more than half of the impersonated celebrities, from Dolly Parton to Johnny Cash to Lady Gaga. If you want to catch the real deal, you can still find one pop music icon on the Strip. Britney Spears is on contract until 2017. At the conclusion of her show, she'll have performed 1,726 days in the city of sin.
There is no replacement for the musicians, actors, and political figures – living or dead – who have shaped the country and world into what it is today. However, impersonators can come pretty close.
Celebrity impersonation, at its finest, can be an art form; it can also be a way to poke fun at current events. Either way, it is steeped in a history that dates back decades and shows no signs of slowing down.
Feel Free to Share Our Averaged Faces Here
We averaged the faces of Las Vegas–based celebrity impersonators to create composite renderings. Each average is comprised of over 20 photos. Some averages are comprised of multiple photos from the same impersonator. “The 20 Most Popular Figures Portrayed by Vegas Impersonators” graphic is based on listings from five booking websites.
Feel free to share the images found on this page freely. When doing so, please attribute the authors by providing a link back to this page, so your readers can learn more about this project and the related research.