Andy Warhol at UO, 1968

Artist and experimental filmmaker Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was invited to the University of Oregon campus in October 1967 to give a talk and show some of his films. Warhol sent an actor named Alan Midgett instead, and no one realized he was an imposter until four months later. Warhol and Midgett perpetrated the hoax on at least five other colleges. The colleges paid “Warhol” $2,600, which Midgett kept and used to fund a trip to Europe. “I never thought of getting away with anything,” Warhol explained. “I actually thought Alan would do a better job and people would enjoy him much better.”

Some in the audience complained about Midgett’s lackluster performance and walked out, but enrollment in a UO class on underground film jumped from 63 to 350 after the phony appearance, according to Eduardo Reyes, who booked the October event.

The real Andy Warhol came to campus on February 21, 1968, accompanied by his manager Paul Morrissey and actress Viva!. In front of an audience of 1,000 people, Warhol showed excerpts of his 25-hour long film “* * * *”. According to the Eugene Register-Guard, “The hour-long segment of the film…consisted of two films projected simultaneously. The first twenty minutes or so were overlapping scenes of a girl dressed in a John Philip Sousa band coat, playing with one of those revolving reflecting ballroom globes and talking. The latter part of the film involved a shaggy-haired youth lecturing against the Vietnam War while a woman scrubbed an American flag in the background. Superimposed over him were films of a couple apparently romping on a bed.”

Morrissey explained to one reporter that Midgett had acted in some of Warhol’s films without getting paid, so they let him keep the tour money.

Midgett_as_Warhol_68Oregana
Oregana, 1968, p. 21

Midgett (who now goes by “Allen Midgette”) continued to work intermittently as an actor and as an Andy Warhol impersonator. He currently lives in Woodstock, New York, where he is a fine artist. A recent interview with him can be found at the online magazine Chronogram.

Sources:
Archival footage from KEZI-TV, Chambers Communications Corp., Coll 427, FV34. Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries.

Bishoff, Don. “No, Uh, Andy Warhol Wasn’t Always Andy Warhol.” Eugene Register-Guard, 24 Feb. 1987: C1.
Bishoff, Don. “Real, Ah, Andy, Hasn’t, Ah, Much to Say.” Eugene Register-Guard, 22 Feb. 1968: B1.
Raines, Howell. “Slated at UA, But…Will the Real Andy Warhol Show Up?” The Tuscaloosa News, 17 Feb. 1968: 20.

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Elizabeth Peterson
Humanities Librarian & Curator of Moving Images

One comment

  1. Jon Block

    At the same time Warhol actually came to U of O the Conference on Social Revolution was taking place. Those in attendance included Bernadette Devlin and Amiri Baraka. There does not seem to be any historical material available about that conference — which was very well attended and included many luminaries of the cultural and political left.

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