Celebrity impersonators are people who dress and behave like celebrities, living or dead, in a variety of settings. Typically, an impersonator already has at least a passing resemblance to a celebrity, and uses this as a building block for impersonation, completing the image by mimicking the dress, speech patterns, language, and behavior of the celebrity he or she resembles. Celebrity impersonation can be a career for a talented impersonator, or it can be a hobby which someone enjoys engaging in. As a general rule, ethical impersonators make it clear that they are impersonators, not the actual celebrity, and that they are offering a tribute with their impersonation.
People who are considered celebrities tend to be in high demand for public appearances. Meeting this demand is not always possible, for a variety of reasons, and celebrity impersonators may step in to fill the need. A celebrity impersonator might do something like dressing up as a famous author for a book launch party at which the author cannot be present, or dressing as a well known actor for a movie release.
There are times when controversy may arise over celebrity impersonation. Some celebrities do not like to be impersonated, and sometimes argue that celebrity impersonators can damage their image. For example, if a celebrity impersonator appears at an event for a cause which the celebrity does not support, people may erroneously think that the celebrity supports that cause, and this could be damaging to reputation. The use of celebrity impersonators to solicit funds or advance causes is sometimes frowned upon due to concerns that it may confuse the general public.
On the other hand, celebrities may support the use of look-alikes to do things like visiting hospitals to cheer up sick patients, because they may not have time to do this personally, but may like the idea of a proxy who can be involved in such activities. Some celebrities also may get a kick out of celebrity impersonators who perform, such as sound-alike impersonators who cover songs by musicians whom they resemble.
One of the most frequently impersonated celebrities is Elvis. Estimates on the number of Elvis impersonators around the world vary considerably, but they are certainly numerous. Elvis impersonators perform in clubs, officiate at weddings, appear in parades, and show up in a variety of venues. The popularity of Elvis impersonators highlights another reason for celebrity impersonation: Sometimes a celebrity is dead, but members of the public are not yet willing to let go.