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Zelig (1983)

PG  |   |  Comedy  |  15 July 1983 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 29,376 users  
Reviews: 102 user | 53 critic

"Documentary" about a man who can look and act like whoever he's around, and meets various famous people.



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Title: Zelig (1983)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Patrick Horgan ...
The Narrator (voice)
John Buckwalter ...
Marvin Chatinover ...
Stanley Swerdlow ...
Paul Nevens ...
Howard Erskine ...
George Hamlin ...
Ralph Bell ...
Richard Whiting ...
Will Hussung ...
Other Doctor (as Will Hussong)
Robert Iglesia ...
Eli Resnick ...
Edward McPhillips ...


Fictional documentary about the life of human chameleon Leonard Zelig, a man who becomes a celebrity in the 1920s due to his ability to look and act like whoever is around him. Clever editing places Zelig in real newsreel footage of Woodrow Wilson, Babe Ruth, and others. Written by Scott Renshaw <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

15 July 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Identity Crisis and Its Relationship to Personality Disorder  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$11,800,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Woody Allen originally wanted Greta Garbo to be one of the people interviewed. See more »


At one point, the narrator mentions that there is a photo of Leonard Zelig as Pagliacci. "Pagliacci" is the Italian plural for "clowns". The correct way to say it would be " a photo of Leonard Zelig as Pagliaccio", or "a photo of Leonard Zelig as Canio (the leading male character, who plays Pagliaccio in a play-within-the-play in the opera "Pagliacci".). See more »


Leonard Zelig: And to the, to the gentleman who's appendix I took out, I...I'm, I don't know what to say, if it's any consolation I... I may still have it somewhere around the house.
See more »


Referenced in New York at the Movies (2002) See more »


A Sailboat in the Moonlight
Written by Carmen Lombardo and John Jacob Loeb (as John Loeb)
Performed by The Guy Lombardo Orchestra
Courtesy of RCA Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Zenith Zelig.
23 February 2008 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

ZELIG is simply a jaw-dropping sight and sound as a film; hilarious.... out loud. The funny premise is polished to some astonishing level of trickery with editing and matte effects seamlessly blending real 20s with recreated 20s adding Allen and Farrow and dialog and interviews that will have you recalling and roaring with laughter for days. I had not seen it since 1983 and now in 2008 to be reminded how stunning and hilarious this creation is, well, I am just delighted to be back on the wavelength of this genuinely brilliant hoax documentary. Now I can see how FORREST GUMP came about, given that it is a similar 'historic' premise using real footage of events and eras mixed with the lead character. But ZELIG is another perfection altogether; if you know your 20s, silent films, the imagery, the early sound newsreels and all those silly songs, then ZELIG is a superlative treat. It even features Mae Questrel singing a new Betty Boop song and for that alone I cheer this almost perfect film. What a delight. If you also get to see the early Peter Jackson hoax documentary FORGOTTEN SILVER or Stanley Donen's MOVIE MOVIE you will be equally rewarded.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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