Robin Williams seems like a one-of-a-kind performer, but the Oscar-winning funnyman says there’s an impostor passing himself off as Williams, scamming people and ruining his good name. TV’s Celebrity Justice reports that Williams is suing the faux-Robin, a performer named Michael Clayton, as well as agent Michael Pool. According to court papers obtained by E! Online, the suit accuses Clayton and Pool of profiting illicitly by telling people that Clayton ”is the real Robin Williams and going to great lengths to dupe innocent members of the media, general public and charitable organizations into falling for their ruse.”
The suit was filed in a federal court in Minnesota, the state where Clayton-as-Williams gave a press conference in a Minneapolis airport lounge. A gossip columnist who writes under the byline C.J. was fooled and reported the interview in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune; she told Celebrity Justice that she issued a retraction when she learned Clayton’s true identity.
Also fooled was Shirley Collins, who was organizing a charity fundraiser for a volunteer fire department in West Plains, Mo. As the suit recounts, and as Collins confirmed to Celebrity Justice, she says Pool offered to book Williams for the fundraiser. She says she spoke to Clayton on the phone and that he convinced her he was Williams by speaking in Williams’ Mrs. Doubtfire voice. Pool then requested a fee of $2,500 to cover the performer’s travel expenses. Later, she read C.J.’s account of being fooled by Clayton and was forced to cancel the fundraiser, at a cost of $45,000 to the fire department. The suit goes on to say that other reporters, charity organizers, and hotel clerks have been duped and seeks an injunction barring Clayton and Pool from using Williams’ name, voice, and likeness without disclosing that he’s an impersonator.
Reached by E! Online, Clayton said he too had been scammed by Pool. ”I’m a look-alike, and the agent — I don’t know this guy — he did not tell people I wasn’t [the real Williams],” Clayton said. He blamed Pool for arranging the airport lounge event without telling reporters Clayton was an impersonator. Clayton also denied any involvement in the Missouri fire-department incident, telling E! that a bout of throat cancer two years ago has left him unable to do the Mrs. Doubtfire voice, and that his phone records show he never spoke to Collins. He said he would be willing to testify against Pool. ”The investigator with Robin Williams has been in contact with me, and we’ve been searching for Michael Pool,” Clayton said. E! was unable to locate Pool for comment.