Weird History 30 Real People Behind Classic Characters  

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Think the most famous characters of all time are just a figment of someone's imagination? Well, that's like, your opinion, man. Many of the greatest television characters and the best movie characters of all time were either loosely or wholly based on real people. This list of iconic characters based on real people will show you that truth is stranger than fiction, and some of the weirdest and most wonderful characters of all time actually existed off the big screen.

From the barking efficiency of the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, to the men of Les Miserables, to Cosmo Kramer (for real, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David took a lot of liberties when creating the many memorable Seinfeld characters), there are more real people behind great characters than you'd imagine. 

What memorable characters were based on real people? Who are some of the real people famous and classic fictional characters were based on? If you think you knew everything there is to know about your favorite movie characters and the best parts ever written for the small screen, this list of iconic characters based on real people might just change your mind.

John Nettleship: Severus Snape


John Nettleship is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 30 Real People Behind Classic Characters
Photo:  uploaded by Robert Wabash
Professor Severus Snape is the Potions Master who taught Harry Potter many lessons during his time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is said to have based the character of Severus Snape on John Netteship, her chemistry teacher at Wyedean School.

Of being the inspiration for Snape, Nettleship said, "I was horrified when I first found out. I knew I was a strict teacher, but I didn't think I was that bad."

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Age: Died at 72 (1939-2011)

Birthplace: United Kingdom


Ed Gein is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 30 Real People Behind Classic Characters
Photo: Freebase/Fair use
Norman Bates (Psycho), Buffalo Bill (The Silence of the Lambs), and Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) are some of the most iconic killers to ever appear on film. They were all inspired by the crimes of Ed Gein.

Ed Gein was a murderer who would keep the skin and bones of his victims. He would also steal bodies from graves to take their skin and bones. He was eventually captured and spent his life serving out a prison sentence in a mental hospital.

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Age: Died at 78 (1906-1984)

Birthplace: Wisconsin, United States of America

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Hiram Bingham III is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 30 Real People Behind Classic Characters
Photo:  uploaded by Robert Wabash
Indiana Jones is the title character from the Steven Spielberg-directed, George Lucas-created Indiana Jones series. He is an intelligent explorer with a strong sense of adventure.

Hiram Bingham III was an academic explorer who later became a U.S. politician. He is often cited as the inspiration for the character of Indiana Jones. George Lucas has also cited Sean Connery's portrayal of James Bond to have also been a primary influence for Indiana Jones.

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Age: Died at 81 (1875-1956)

Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America

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Jeff Dowd: Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski


Jeff Dowd is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 30 Real People Behind Classic Characters
Photo:  uploaded by Robert Wabash
Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski is a pot-smoking, bowling enthusiast who gets mixed up with a group of pornographers and nihilists after being confused for a rich man who is also named Jeffrey Lebowski in the film The Big Lebowski.

Jeff Dowd is a producer and political activist who met The Big Lebowski creators, Joel and Ethan Coen, when they were promoting their first film, Blood Simple. The Coen Brothers were so inspired by Dowd that they loosesly based the character of "The Dude" on his personality traits.

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Age: 66

Birthplace: Oakland, USA, California

Credits: Zebrahead, The Achievers: The Story of the Lebowski Fans