Leonard Zelig
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Leonard Zelig

Zelig

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About Him

Grew up… in New York in the early 1900s, the son of a Yiddish actor. During his youth, Zelig was often bullied by anti-Semites. His unsympathetic parents often blamed the young Leonard for any trouble that befell him, and actually sided with the anti-Semites. If this wasn’t bad enough, things got worse for Zelig when he forgot to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. As he said, “I turned Irish,” he says, “My hair turned red, my turned up. I spoke about the great potato famine.”

Living… in Manhattan Hospital’s psych ward where he is being looked over by a special psychologist named Dr. Eudora Fletcher. Dr. Fletcher has diagnosed Zelig as a “human chameleon” – he can adapt to any social surrounding and fit in with ease. His interests will change depending on what sort of company he keeps. At a fancy Long Island garden party he will take on the character of a Boston aristocrat, but in an oriental opium den in Manhattan’s tenement buildings he will take on the physical characteristics of a Chinese man.

Profession… socialite. He attends all sorts of different parties and social events in 1920s America.

Relationship Status… complicated. Some women complain that Zelig loved them and left them, but Zelig doesn’t even remember them. The only constant relationship he has is with his doctor Eudora.

Challenge… becoming his true self. Zelig’s shape shifting properties are the result of a deep insecurity: he just wants to be like everyone else.

Personality… fickle, neurotic, and conformist. Zelig has no true personality of his own; he merely shifts from one fake persona to another. Within the space of the day he can inhabit the role of a rich republican, an opium-addicted Chinese man, or even a right-wing fascist.

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