Five Real People You Thought Were Fictional

Real People Behind Fictional CharactersHow many times have you watched a movie and thought, “Wow!  Imagine if there really was someone like that!”  Well, as the saying (sort of) goes, “Art sometimes DOES imitate life.”  Each of these fictional characters once really did live.  The famous movies are based on their real lives.  They may not be exact, but they had that special heroic value in their lives that made them worried of being turned into a story.  Here are five fictional people who once really did live!

myfivebest -1The Man In The Iron Mask
This character has been made famous in Alexandre Dumas’ final installment of his Three Musketeers saga.  In this story, the man in the iron mask was King Louis XIV’s twin brother who was helped by the Three Musketeers.  Most recently, it was made into the 1998 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, and Gabriel Byrne.  The real Man in the Iron Mask was the name given to a prisoner arrested as Eustache Dauger in 1669, held in a number of jails, including the Bastille and the Fortress of Pignerol, and died in 1703.  The possible identity of this man has been thoroughly discussed and been the subject of many books, mainly because no one ever saw his face, that was hidden by a mask of – not iron, but black velvet cloth.  The French writer and philosopher, Voltaire, was the first person to write about this man.

myfivebest - 2Dirty Harry
In the movie, Dirty Harry (1971), Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” Callahan was an inspector for the San Francisco Police Department. He spent his days killing hippies and restoring masculinity to the city. He was also on the trail of Scorpio, a serial killer who loved to taunt the police.  The real Dirty Harry was inspired by Dave Toschi, an inspector in the San Francisco Police Department.  The flamboyant San Francisco cop would also serve as the inspiration for 1968’s Bullitt, played by Steve McQueen.  Toschi was the cop who hunted down the real life Zodiac killer.  So were filmmakers suggesting that Toschi secretly killed the Zodiac killer in his off-hours? Not exactly. Dirty Harry writer John Milius said that whole aspect of Dirty Harry was inspired by another cop – a friend of his in Long Beach who remained unnamed, probably to avoid the wrath of Internal Affairs.

myfivebest - 3Zorro
Zorro is the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega , a nobleman living in the Spanish colonial era of California. He is a black-clad masked outlaw who defends the people of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains. The real Zorro was Joaquin Murrieta, also called the “Robin Hood of El Dorado”.  He was a semi-legendary figure in California during the California Gold Rush of the 1850s. Murrieta was either an infamous bandit or a Mexican patriot, depending on your point of view.   Murrieta was partly the inspiration for the fictional character of Zorro.  His name has, for some political activists, symbolized resistance against Anglo-American economic and cultural domination in California. In fact, a character with his name appears in The Mask of Zorro (1998).  In the film, after Joaquin’s death, his (fictional) brother, Alejandro (Antonio Banderas), becomes the new Zorro to carry on the legend.

myfivebest - 4Crusty The Clown
In the cartoon The Simpsons, Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski, better known by his stage name, “Krusty the Clown”, is the cynical, burnt out, addiction-riddled, smoking clown host of Bart and Lisa’s favorite TV show, The Krusty the Clown Show. The character of Krusty was partially inspired by real-life clown “Rusty Nails” (in real life, Jim Allen) whom Simpsons creator, Matt Groening, watched as a child while growing up in Portland, Oregon.  His program on KPTV was the second-longest running children’s program in Portland.  Basically most of the characters from The Simpsons were inspired in Groening’s family and acquaintances.

myfivebest - 5Rocky Balboa
Even Sly Stallone used real people as an inspiration?  Yes, he did.  In this case, Rocky is based on Chuck Wepner, a battling, bruising club fighter who had never made it big time. In 1975, he had his shot in a fight with world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali (who was much more flamboyant than Apollo Creed). The real-life fight wasn’t really regarded as a serious battle.  But as the fight progressed, this miracle unfolded: In the ninth round, Wepner landed a punch to Ali’s chest and Ali was knocked down. Wepner went to his corner and said to his manager, “Hey, I knocked him down.” “Yeah,” Wepner’s manager replied, “but he looks really pissed off now…“. People went absolutely crazy.  Wepner was finally knocked out in the 15th and final round, almost lasting the distance.  Young actor Sylvester Stallone watched the fight at home on television and was inspired to write the script for Rocky, based on Wepner’s gutsy challenge.