ALAN GERSHWIN, 91, February 27 in the Bronx. Famous for having maintained a curious (if not particularly lucrative) career on his dubious claim to be the love child of George Gershwin and a chorus girl. His insisted on the truth of this claim—first made in the mid 50s—for over 60 years while becoming an expert on Gershwin lore, giving interviews in which he shared his “recollections” of the composer, and at times playing special guest at performances of Gershwin’s music by orchestras around the world.
He never pushed for royalties from the Gershwin estate despite some headlines over the years to the contrary. He composed a number of musical works of his own and claimed to have written some popular songs in the ’50s that are credited to others. Some of his credited works have been performed and at one point a group recorded a full album of them.
Even some who dismissed him as a scammer admired his doggedness and conviction. Speculation has been made about how his mental health may have played a part in his chosen path, and that it may be tied in part to his service in WWII. One thing known for sure was that by early adulthood he bore an uncanny and much commented upon resemblance to the composer. DNA testing performed on living relatives in the early 2000s cast doubt on any familial relationship.