Tuesday, May. 26, 2009

David Hampton

Before Will Smith, there was David Hampton. In 1983, in a long-running con that would later inspire Smith's role in the 1993 film Six Degrees of Separation, Hampton inveigled his way into the lives of New York City's upper crust by pretending to be the neglected son of actor Sidney Poitier. Hampton would hang around the Columbia University campus, getting unsuspecting people to house him, give him money or otherwise help him. Hampton even once reportedly showed up at the home of actress Melanie Griffith, where he stayed up talking until 4 a.m. with actor Gary Sinise. Hampton would often go to restaurants and pretend that Poitier was meeting him just to get free meals and lavish attention, only to later act as if he had been stood up. But Hampton's undoing came when he was caught by Osborn Elliott, former Newsweek editor and dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, in Elliott's home in bed with another man. Elliott alerted authorities and the jig was up. No charges were pressed, but Hampton was forced to pay $4500 back to people whom he had swindled and stayed with.