Gerrit Marshall of Madison was named the Papa of all Ernest Hemingway look-alikes at the annual Hemingway Days celebration in Key West, Florida.
The retired television broadcast engineer celebrated his 68th birthday by besting over 130 entrants in the Hemingway Look-Alike Contest at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a favorite watering hole of the acclaimed author when he lived nearby during the 1930s. It was Marshall’s 11th time entering the event, which is the culmination of the yearly Hemingway Days celebration.
For those who were prone to dozing off in English class, Hemingway was one of the most prominent American writers of the 20th century, penning such classics as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea.
But his literary fame was only part of his popular appeal. He was just as well known for his daring lifestyle and rugged image. He covered the Spanish Civil War and World War II on the frontlines and was keen on hunting, fishing, boxing, and drinking in his spare time, all of which led to him becoming a cultural icon.
From photos of the competitors, the look-alikes appear to skew heavily toward the author’s later years, when he sported white hair, a beard, and a ruddy complexion. There’s certainly no shortage of barrel-chested men who fit that description around these parts. It seems like Wisconsin should be the cradle of Hemingway look-alikes. Many of those guys already hunt and fish, so getting into character shouldn’t even be much of a stretch. It’s time for us to be the best state at yet another thing.
Think you’ve got what it takes to continue the run of Wisconsin Ernest Hemingway look-alike champions at his 125th birthday celebration in 2024? Then you’ve got 11 months to pick out a sweater.