Connecticut’s “Nurse Of The Year” Not Really A Nurse. And Other Female Impostors.

Betty Lichtenstein, a 56-year-old in Connecticut, is a really great nurse. So great, in fact, that she was dubbed “Nurse of the Year” by the Connecticut Nursing Association last year. The association spent lots o’ cash setting up a celebratory dinner to bestow Lichtenstein with their top nursing honor. Only, it turns out…she wasn’t actually a nurse. Betty Trudel (her real last name) never went to nursing school and had been posing as a registered nurse for years. [Yahoo News]

I won’t lie—any time “Catch Me If You Can” is on television, you can be pretty sure I’ll be watching it. I’m fascinated by people who assume fake lives and do it so freaking convincingly that no one notices for years. So this got me thinking … are there any other women out there like Betty?YES!

  • One of the most famous female imposters of all time—Cassie Chadwick. She was a brothel owner in Canada who charmed an American doctor into marrying her, and moved with him to Cleveland. There, she convinced the world that she was Andrew Carnegie’s illegitimate daughter. She’d go to a bank, show them a forged $2 promissory note “signed” by Carnegie, and then ask for a huge loan. But, of course, they couldn’t actually confirm their story with Carnegie because he would be so humiliated that she let the cat out of the bag. In all, Cassie walked away with about $20 million in loans. In 1905. [Wikipedia]
  • A few years ago, Suzy Bass was a high school math teacher in Knoxville, Tennessee, battling breast cancer. She had less than a year to live, had lost all her hair from chemotherapy, and was constantly sick from the treatment. When her students formed a team in her honor for the Race for the Cure, Suzy was too sick to walk with them, but met them at the finish line so she could cross it with them. So imagine how up in arms the school was when they found out Suzy didn’t have cancer at all. She faked the whole thing for attention. [Glamour via AOL Health]
  • When JT Leroy’s novel, Sarah, was published in 2001, it made a literary tidal wave. But even more than the book, people were fascinated by the author, who was born in West Virginia and dabbled in prostitution and hard drugs at a young age. JT was reclusive, but sometimes made public appearances, though always in a wig, hat, and sunglasses. You know where this is going. There was never a JT Leroy. He was an elaborate mirage dreamed up by agent Laura Albert, who wrote his work, and got her partner’s half-sister, Savannah Knoop, to play him in person. [New York Magazine]
  • Dr. Charlotte Bach was a scientist in England in the 1970s, who became super famous in science circles for proposing an alternate theory of evolution. Too bad, she wasn’t actually a scientist. Or a woman. [Wikipedia]
  • In 2006, Marilee Jones was the dean of admissions at MIT and wrote a book about the college-admissions frenzy called Less Stress, More Success that won huge critical acclaim. She spoke on NPR, appeared in The New York Times, and The Boston Globe called her, “the most celebrated and outspoken dean of admissions in America.” Who completely fabricated all her academic degrees. When it was found out that she had nothing more than a high school diploma, MIT fired her in a very public way. [Time]