To have a celebrity doppelganger


Sally Field accepts the award for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for her work on "Brothers & Sisters."

By Travis Mayfield

For my entire life I have thought my mom looked like Sally Field.

I think Field is beautiful, elegant and ageless just like my mom.

I think most people at some point in their lives get the, “you remind me of…” and then fill-in-the-blank with the name of a celebrity.

Sometimes the comparisons are flattering.

“People have always told me I look like Dylan McDermott,” says one of my friends (constantly).

Sometimes the comparisons are less flattering.

“Some drunk idiot once told me I looked like Dom Deluise in a dress,” explained a friend-of-a-friend once over wine.

And sometimes the comparisons are down-right-head-scratching.

Several years ago I was at an airport (not SeaTac) checking in at an unnamed airline’s desk.  The airline employee was looking at my drivers license when he suddenly looked up in recognition.

“Hey, you’re that guy from TV,” he said pausing for a moment to think.  “You’re Gideon Yago from MTV.”

I thought to myself at this point that this guy was a complete moron because he had literally just checked my name on my license with my name on the reservation and he still thought I was someone else. 

I began to open my mouth, but he stopped me.

“Let me just upgrade you to first class Mr. Yago,” he said excitedly.

To which I smiled, took my license and my upgrade and told him to have a great day.

In fairness I do have dark hair, I do wear glasses, I do have facial scruff and at that time I was on TV (local TV news, not MTV mind you).  So in retrospect I can see some similarities between myself and Yago.  I am also flattered and of course I was thrilled to sip Champagne in first class as I winged my way to a weekend in LA.

But I’ve only ever been mistaken for Gideon Yago the one time. 

On more times that I can count, in every city where I’ve been an on-air TV news reporter I have been mistakenly called one name.

“Oh my gosh are you Curtis Mayfield?” the little old ladies in the checkout line will coo.

“Hey look it’s Curtis Mayfield,” the guys at the gym will call.

“Well if it isn’t Curtis Mayfield,” the strangers at church will whisper.

Let me be clear.  My name is Travis Mayfield (check the byline above).  It has always been Travis Mayfield.  I am not Curtis Mayfield.

Are these folks actually mistaking me for a dead African American singer who rose to fame in the 1970s with an album called Super Fly?

I doubt it.

I can only believe they recognized me from the local news and knew my face.  But when it came time to remember my name ‘Curtis Mayfield’ came first in their consciousness and since that sounds a lot like Travis they went with it.

Over the years I simply got used to it.  I stopped correcting people.  I started answering to it.

Today I’m no longer on-air, so I don’t get recognized in public. 

I enjoy the anonymity, but I have to admit… now that I don’t get it, on occasion I miss my celebrity doppelganger and the random calls from the cereal aisle.

“Hey Curtis Mayfield, it’s nice to see you in person!”

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