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Leopoldo Fregoli
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    (July 2, 1867-November 26, 1936)
    Born in Rome, Italy
    Stage actor, impressionist and quick-change artist
    Routines included a series of rapid-fire impersonations; performing all the parts, from soprano to baritone, in a condensed opera; or a courtroom scene in which he would be the judge, jury, lawyers and defendant
    Starred in over a dozen silent short films
    He dropped of school at 14.
    His first foray into show biz was an unsuccessful magic act
    Bankruptcy forced him to come out of retirement for a tour of South America (1925).
    His gravestone bears the epitaph 'His last transformation.'
    He is the namesake for Fregoli delusion, in which a person believes that different people are a single person in diguises.
    He began his quick change career while serving with the Italian army in Abyssinia, when a theatrical troupe hired to entertain his unit failed to show and he filled in single handedly.
    He was so quick at changing costumes and characters that the London press speculated that his act was actually done by identical twins.
    Although he lost 800 costumes and 1200 wigs in a theater fire, he was able to resume his act seven days later (1900).
    During World War I, he performed at several Red Cross benefits and entertained Italian troops at the front lines.
    One critic wrote, 'Italy has four glories of which it can justly be proud: the singer Caruso, the poet D'Annunzio, the inventor Marconi, and the quick-change artist Fregoli.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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