Ferdinand Waldo Demara - "The Great Impostor"

The man in this photograph is named Ferdinand Waldo Demara, but he is also known as the "Great Impostor". Why was it called that?

Posing as a Benedictine monk, prison director, ship doctor, child care expert, civil engineer, deputy sheriff, certified psychologist, lawyer, orderly, teacher, editor, and scientist looking for a cure for cancer. But I never tried to make money on it. All he needed was the respect of those around him. Possessed a photographic memory and a high IQ.

At the age of 16, he ran away from home and spent several years with the Cistercian monks, and in 1941 he enlisted in the army. Then - to the navy. He tried to impersonate an officer, and when that failed, he faked suicide and turned into Robert Linton French, a psychologist with a religious bias. He taught psychology at the colleges of Pennsylvania and Washington.

Then FBI agents approached him and Demara received 18 months in prison for desertion. After his release, he bought forged documents and studied law at Northeastern University, before becoming a monk again. He founded a college that still exists today. In church, he met a young doctor, Joseph Serah, used his name and began to impersonate a surgeon. During the Korean War, he was promoted to lieutenant and ship's doctor on the Canadian destroyer Cayuga and was sent to Korea. There he perfectly treated patients with penicillin.

Once, 16 seriously wounded soldiers were delivered to the destroyer, who needed an operation. Demara was the only surgeon on the ship. He told the staff to prepare the wounded and take them to the operating room, while he sat down in his cabin with a textbook on surgery. Demara independently performed all the operations (including several heavy ones). And not a single soldier died. Newspapers enthusiastically wrote about him. The mother of the real Joseph Sira read them by chance, and the deception was revealed. For a long time, the captain refused to believe that his surgeon had nothing to do with medicine. The Canadian Navy decided not to press charges against DeMara, who returned to the United States.

Then he also worked as a deputy governor of a prison in Texas (he was hired thanks to his diploma of a psychologist). There, Demara started a serious program of psychological reforging of criminals - and succeeded in it. He has worked as a consultant at the largest homeless shelter in Los Angeles, received a certificate of graduation from college in Oregon and was a parish priest at the hospital.

In 1982 he died of heart failure. Several books have been written about him, and a film and series have been shot.