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Blood Relatives

Claim:   Old photographs show John Travolta and Nicolas Cage look-alikes.

UNDETERMINED

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, March 2013]

What is the deal with these old pics of Nicholas Cage and John Travolta? Is this real?

 

Origins:   These seemingly old (19th century) photographs of spitting images for actors Nicolas Cage and John Travolta, who starred together in the 1997 film Face/Off (playing an FBI agent and a terrorist who exchange faces), hit the Internet in September 2011 when both were put up for sale by different sellers on the auction site eBay.

In the former case, the seller was Jack Mörd of Seattle, Washington, an antiques dealer who maintained that the 4" by 2.5" carte de visite photograph of a Nicolas Cage doppelgänger was "100 per cent genuine" and pictured a man who lived in Bristol, Tennessee, around 1870. He listed the image on eBay with a starting price of $1 million and (jokingly) suggested in the item's description that Nicolas Cage was a "vampire":
The seller, who has put the starting price at $1million, says the photo is 100 per cent genuine and was taken of a man who lived in Bristol, Tennessee, around the time of the Civil War.

The picture was found in the back of an album that contained many unusual death portraits from the Civil War era — but the Nicolas Cage lookalike was not identified by name, Mr Mörd said.

It is believed the photo was taken by a confederate Civil War prisoner of war
photographer called Professor G.B. Smith.

To justify the steep price, Mörd made the case that his possession was actual photographic proof that Cage is a real vampire — not just an actor who played one in the 1988 movie "Vampire’s Kiss."

"Personally, I believe it’s him (in the photograph) and that he is some sort of walking undead/vampire ... who quickens/reinvents himself once every 75 years or so," Mord wrote in his eBay listing.

"My theory is that he allows himself to age to a certain point, maybe 70, 80 or so, then the actor 'Nicolas Cage' will 'die'," Mr Mörd joked.

"But in reality, the undead vampire "Nicolas Cage" will have rejuvenated himself and appeared in some other part of the world, young again, and ready to start all over. 150 years from now he might be a politician, the leader of a cult or a talk show host."
When shown a copy of the photograph during a February 2012 appearance on the Late Show, Cage told host David Letterman that "I don’t drink blood and last time I looked in the mirror, I had a reflection, so I’m not going with the vampire theory."

The publicity generated by the Cage "vampire" photo prompted an unidentified Ontario, Canada, photograph collector to re-list an item he'd first put up on eBay the previous month: a picture of a John Travolta look-alike he claimed dated from 1860 and hadn't "been changed, tampered with or altered in any way":
The unidentified antique dealer, who had a 100 percent positive seller rating on eBay and avowed his photo was not doctored in any way, asked a comparatively reasonable $50,000 — but offered an equally [bizarre] explanation of how the star of such iconically 20th century films as “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease” could have been photographed more than 150 years ago.

"I've had this interesting photograph for years and I've been unable to part with it," the seller said on the auction site.

"When you look at it and into the eyes of the sitter you will see what I mean!

"It hasn't been changed, tampered with or altered in any way. It is clear and is as nice as the day it was taken roughly 151 years ago."

"I know you are saying John Travolta is alive today in 2011 and he doesn’t look 151 years old," the seller wrote. "John Travolta is a Scientologist, and many Scientologists believe in a type of reincarnation. Of course, time travel can’t be ruled out as well."
As far as we know, the Cage photograph was pulled from eBay and the Travolta photograph failed to find a buyer, so neither has been examined by experts who could have documented or disclaimed their authenticity.

Last updated:   20 March 2013

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Sources:

    Hom, Taylor.   "‘Ghost Rider' Nicolas Cage Denies Being a Vampire."
    [New York] Daily News.   10 February 2012.

    Inbar, Michael.   "Could Nicolas Cage and John Travolta Be Centuries Old?"
    Today Show.   23 January 2012.

    Stevens, John and Mark Duell.   "First Nicolas Cage, Now John Travolta."
    Daily Mail.   29 September 2011.