I was amazed but not surprised to see this fascinating obituary in the New York Times about the extraordinary life of Alan Gershwin, who was either an uncrowned prince cheated of his musical and financial heritage, or a complete fraud.
It surprises me that I still get comments on the blog post I did in 2015 about AG and GG (link below) and the complicated relationship they had, whether face-to-face or only in Alan's imagination. There is just no simple version of this story, and I think it has the makings of a movie. I have heard that William Shatner has a phantom son who keeps threatening him with exposure. So far he’s ignoring him.
I have had a bit of a problem with his “uncanny” resemblance to GG. People see what they want or need to see. GG was so cruelly yanked out of the world, with so much unfinished business, that maybe a lookalike son was an emotional need for some people. Some make their living “being” other people at parties, etc. – professional lookalikes, and AG didn’t look any more like George than a convincing lookalike. But then, I didn’t know him.
Some of the commenters on my blog piece are kind of upset or even angry that I don’t just accept the reality of AG being who he says he is. Others kind of dismiss him or talk about how terrible his music was. Yet he’d show up at music festivals and no one would question him. Maybe Alan Gershwin was the unlived life, the continuation in very watered-down form of George once he prematurely dropped away.
In my unofficial research on GG, I kept coming across stories where people would “see” him in his old haunts after he died. He’d just appear for a moment. Elvis sighting stuff? Could be, or just more of that desire to see someone who left too soon. I read that Ira Gershwin whispered on his deathbed that he “saw” his brother after his death – he waved at him cheerily from the sofa in his workroom. IG was terrified to tell anyone lest they think he was crazy. Another time he appeared at a player piano for a second in front of a crowd, and several people “saw” him. But people see what they want or need to see, which is why AG went so far. Maybe.