Over the years, many mascots have popped up and become famous. Some believe that they are real people, while others consider them as obviously fake. From corporate mascots all the way down to photoshopped faces, you will be surprised as to who is real and who is not!

These mascots, or people, have had great influence on society and as time passed, their fame only increased. Today we will look at a list of influential people — but, they are people who never existed!

Aimi Eguchi,

In 2011, Aimi joined the musical group AKB48 which became a musical sensation in Japan.

This perfectly-formed fake singer was made up of the very best of pop pedigree, with computer scientists plucking specific facial features from six of the most genetically blessed of AKB48’s real-life female members.

But manufacturing this idol was not as easy as it may seem. Skilled computer scientists used detailed imaging to highlight the points on the real-life girls’ faces before their best features were captured and digitally implanted onto Aimi’s virtual face. And her high-pitched voice was merely an auto-tuned actor’s.

Aimi’s AKB48 profile said that she was 16, competed in track and field, and that she was from Saitama, a prefecture on the island of Honshu. It also said Aimi had debuted in a photoshoot for a magazine.

George P. Burdell

In 1927, someone in the admissions office at Georgia Tech accidentally sent student Ed Smith two registration forms instead of one.

Feeling mischievous, Smith filled out one form for himself and the other for George P. Burdell, a student he completely made up. When Smith arrived at school, he kept “George” alive by enrolling “George” in all of his classes. Ed even did all the assigned work for “George” and signed it under his name!

“George” actually did well and he eventually graduated, but when other students found out about the hoax, instead of stopping it they kept him alive.

According to “George’s” resume:

“George Burdell flew 12 missions over Europe during World War II, and served on MAD magazine’s Board of Directors from 1969 to 1981.

In 2001, when Burdell was supposedly 90 years old, he nearly became Time magazine’s Person of the Year after garnering 57 per cent of online votes.”

Georgia Tech, of course, knows about this whole plot and considers it their most celebrated joke. He also has a Facebook page, which boasts more than 4,000 friends.

Jack Dawson

We know Jack Dawson from the Titanic, but did he really exist? There have been no records of him even being on the ship that night, though it is possible that he secretly snuck abroad. Rose DeWitt Bukater and Jack Dawson are fictional characters created by James Cameron.

There was a man named J. Dawson who died aboard the Titanic, but James Cameron did not know that he existed until after he wrote the Titanic screenplay. He did not base the Jack character on this J. Dawson person. The man’s gravestone bears the inscription “J. Dawson,” and no one knows what the “J” stands for. Some people believe it was Joseph or James. But who really knows? J. Dawson could have been “Jack Dawson”.

Aunt Jemima

Currently owned by the Quaker Oats Company of Chicago, Aunt Jemima’s trademark dates back to 1893, but was first registered in April 1937.

She originated from the “Minstrel Show” as one of their stereotypical African-American characters. She was later adopted by commercial interests to represent the Aunt Jemima brand. The Aunt Jemima character received the Key to the City of Albion, Michigan, on January 25, 1964.

An actress portraying Jemima visited Albion many times for fundraisers. Soon after, Quaker Oats introduced Aunt Jemima syrup in 1966. This was followed by Aunt Jemima Butter Lite syrup in 1985, and Butter Rich syrup in 1991. She has simply become just a logo for a brand name over the years.

Uncle Sam

If you’re not familiar with him, he is a personification of the federal government or citizens of the US, typically portrayed as a tall, thin, bearded man wearing a suit of red, white, and blue. But where did he come from?

J.M. Flagg’s 1917 poster was based on the original British Lord Kitchener poster from three years earlier, which was used to recruit soldiers for both World War I and World War II. Flagg used a modified version of his own face for Uncle Sam, and veteran Walter Botts provided the pose. The face also bears resemblance to the real Samuel Wilson.

During the War of 1812, a NY meat packer named Samuel Wilson supplied beef to the US Army. The barrels were stamped with “US” for the “United States,” but soldiers (they always seem to speak their own language) started describing the food as being “Uncle Sam’s.”

A local newspaper spread the story and before you know it, “Uncle Sam” became a popular nickname for the federal government. Although he is based upon several people, he never officially lived or existed. The poster has become an iconic symbol for the US, especially during times of war or conflict.

David Manning

When Rob Schneider’s 2001 movie comedy The Animal came out, no one had anything good to say about it. In fact, it was so bad the Sony marketing division came up with a fake press, the so-called Ridgefield Press and movie critic David Manning, to promote the company’s worst films.

The Animal was just one of many box office bombs that Manning enthusiastically praised. He also lent his critical support to Hollow Man, Vertical Limit and The Patriot.

When two movie lovers from California, Omar Rezec and Ann Belknap, read the review from NewsWeek, they decided to sue Sony. They filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all film-goers who saw movies based on Manning’s “reviews.” In the end, Sony settled out of court, paying real money to anyone duped by the fake critic.

Who knows if movie companies still do this? Someone is always calling the next movie release good.

Betty Crocker

The Washburn Crosby Company of Minneapolis, one of the six big milling companies that merged into General Mills in 1928, received thousands of requests each year in the late 1910s and early 1920s for answers to baking questions.

In 1921, managers decided that it would be more intimate to sign the responses personally; they combined the last name of a retired company executive, William Crocker, with the first name “Betty,” which was thought of as “warm and friendly.”

The signature came from a secretary, who won a contest among female employees (the same signature still appears on Betty Crocker products).

Finally, in 1936, Betty Crocker got a face. Artist Neysa McMein brought together all the women in the company’s Home Service Department and “blended their features into an official likeness.” The widely circulated portrait reinforced the popular belief that Betty Crocker was a real woman.

Her popularity grew so much that in 1924 she got her own radio show and cooking school, and by 1945, she was the second-best known woman in America, after the first lady.

William Tell

William Tell’s name is known to people for one of two things — either ‘The William Tell Overture,’ aka ‘The Lone Ranger Theme,’ or simply ‘the guy who used an arrow to shoot an apple off of a child’s head.’

Everyone in Switzerland knows the story by heart: In the early 1300s, in what would become their country was occupied by Austria. One day, an official named Albrecht Gessler demanded that everyone in the village of Uri bow to his hat. William Tell refused. So as punishment, Gessler forced Tell to shoot an apple off his son’s head with an arrow at 120 paces. If he failed, both Tell and his son would be put to death.

Tell grabbed two arrows and successfully shot the apple off the head of his kid. When Gessler asked him about the second arrow, Tell informed him that if he’d killed his son with the first one, the second would have been aimed at him. Furious, Gessler ordered him to the dungeon, but Tell escaped and killed him. Tell’s defiance of Gessler inspired the people to fight, and the resulting rebellion led to the formation of the Swiss Confederacy.

However, most historians agree that neither Tell nor Gessler ever existed. In fact, the Swiss apparently ‘borrowed’ that story from the legend of a 10th century Viking named Toko. Like Tell, Toko was forced to shoot an apple off his son’s head, and he reserved a second arrow for the one who made him do it.

Ali Larter
Ali Larter

Allegra Coleman

Allegra Coleman was a fictional celebrity, invented by writer Martha Sherrill for the purposes of a hoax magazine article.

Model/actress Ali Larter portrayed the imaginary model in Sherrill’s feature, which appeared in Esquire (November 1996). After her debut, an article described an upcoming movie with Woody Allen and her friendship with Deepak Chopra.

The hoax was revealed by Esquire editor Edward Kosner in a press release to the newswire services. Sherrill later wrote a satirical novel on Hollywood life, which featured Allegra Coleman as a prominent character. The novel, My Last Movie Star, was published by Random House in 2003.

The incident jump-started Ali Larter’s acting career, and she went on to many TV shows, movies (Legally Blonde, Final Destination) and the role of Niki Sanders in NBC’s Heroes. Even after it was revealed she was a hoax, requests still came pouring in for her to star in movies. She was, essentially, an actor playing an actor.

Mildred Benson
Mildred Benson

Carolyn Keene

She’s one of the most popular authors in history, having sold more than 100 million copies of her Nancy Drew books.

Each of the over 300 books in the series starring the titular teenage Sherlock Holmes was written by Carolyn Keene. When the series first started, Keene was profiled by magazines and invited to join the Authors Guild, and she continues to crank out bestsellers despite the fact that she has to be, what, over 100 years old now? But it turns out... she’s zero years old, because she never existed!

Nancy Drew (along with The Hardy Boys and other series in the ‘unattended teenagers solve mysteries’ genre) was invented by publisher Edward Stratemeyer, then handed off to numerous ghost writers and credited as ‘Carolyn Keene.’

Most of the early books were actually written by Mildred Wirt Benson, but she signed a ‘secrecy contract’ that forbid her from claiming credit for them. It didn’t say anything about TV shows, though, so when her stories were adapted in the ‘70s, she asked for some recognition. Stratemeyer threatened to sue her.

Obviously, at some point Nancy Drew fans started getting curious about all the mystery surrounding the author, so in the ‘70s the publisher put out publicity materials hinting that Keene was Harriet Stratemeyer all along (she did write many of the books, but not all). However, in 1980, the company was involved in a lawsuit and Mildred Benson was called to testify — as a result, they had to admit her contribution. That didn’t extend to putting her name on the covers of the books she wrote, of course.

Hatsune Miku

Hatsune Miku is not human. Hatsune Miku is a Vocaloid, but what is a Vocaloid, you ask? The Vocaloid software enables users to synthesise singing, by typing in lyrics and melody. It uses synthesising technology with specially recorded vocals of voice actors or singers.

The word “Vocaloid” comes from “vocal”, as in singing or talking, and “Android” to represent the computer or robotic side. To create a song, the user must input the melody and lyrics.

Since Hatsune Miku is not real, her concerts are 100 per cent holographic. There are 16 projectors that are aimed at a special see through screen; when projected in sync it adds a 3D effect without the need for 3D glasses. After 2007, Hatsune Miku was released in Japan by music company Crypton.

The initial sales of Hatsune Miku were so high that Crypton could not keep up with the demand. Later reports showed that she had sold 60,000+ copies of her software — normally selling 1,000 copies of a synthesising software was considered good business.

Published in Dawn, Young World, May 14th, 2015