Manuella bears an uncanny resemblance to the two-time Oscar winner, and he’s put his looks to good use. The former fireman from New Jersey is a Robert De Niro impersonator, showing up at parties and spouting classic likes like “You talkin’ to me?” Manuella even doubled for the real De Niro, acting in movies like The Fan and Great Expectations.
There’s nothing wrong with impersonating a celebrity. Just look at all the middle-aged men with sagging stomachs, greasy pompadours, and sparkly jumpsuits. However, there are limits, and telling impressionable young women you’re an A-list movie star and inviting them to your home is generally considered out of bounds.
In 2001, Manuella was busted after using his facial features to win free food at pricey restaurants and complimentary rooms at fancy hotels. The con man never slept alone. He was always accompanied by some starstruck fan, convinced she was stepping out with one Hollywood’s greatest actors.
Manuella crashed parties in the Hamptons, got a credit card in De Niro’s name, and scammed fans out of cash. One story goes he even conned the head honcho at Sony Pictures. The man allegedly shook Manuella’s hand and thanked him for everything he’d done for the company. Whether or not that particular tale is true, Manuella successfully fooled quite a few people, until the real De Niro discovered what was going on.
Manuella wasn’t exactly the wisest wise guy in the world and actually tried to get his own movie. When De Niro found out, he asked the cops to set up a sting operation. Manuella’s crime spree finally came to a halt after he was invited to perform at a Holiday Inn where the authorities were waiting. A short time later, he was facing two counts of criminal impersonation.
However, Manuella got off pretty lightly. The con artist pleaded guilty, and his sentence was reduced to a charge of disorderly conduct. Instead of facing jail time, Manuella was soon back on the street and working on a short film about his life, which he submitted to the Tribeca Film Festival—a festival founded by De Niro himself.
I bought some powdered water.
But I don't know what to add to it.
Live Long and Prosper...