Investigation Discovery to Air THE GREAT PRETENDER Documentary, 12/17
The life of Clark Rockefeller exhibits a bizarre twist on the traditional American success story... not because he had the last name of American royalty, but because the story was a total fabrication. The lifelong con man who effectively masqueraded as a member of the famously rich Rockefeller family for more than 16 years was in reality a poor country boy from a tiny mountain village in Germany. Obsessed with America, Hollywood, and film noir, Clark Rockefeller - born Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter - began his life of duplicity when he arrived in the United States at age 17 with suspicious student visa documents. Over the subsequent 30 years, he brazenly assumed a succession of false identities, moving up the social ladder through exclusive communities in California and New York by way of several larger-than-life personas, including those of a USC film student, a Wall Street trader, a modern art collector, and finally a descendant of the famous Rockefeller dynasty. Now, the twisted tale of deception is chronicled in Investigation Discovery's 90-minute documentary THE GREAT PRETENDER, making its world television premiere as part of the ID Films strand on Monday, December 17 from 8-9:30 PM (E/P).
"At its heart, THE GREAT PRETENDER is a captivating thriller about one of the world's most ingenious con men, but it also speaks to the universal desire to reinvent oneself in one way or another, said Henry Schleiff, president and general manager of Investigation Discovery. Clark Rockefeller's story is our society's true-life nightmare about a man who was willing to do absolutely anything to live the American dream."
Christian Gerhartsreiter came to the United States as a young German hustler with dreams of Hollywood super-stardom and American affluence. He eventually turned into the greatest con man this country has ever seen. A man from humble beginnings, the Bavarian dreamer hailed from Bergen, Germany, the type of small town people live a lifetime without leaving. But Gerhartsreiter would go on to live a life of extravagance, charming his way into the upper echelons of American society. The serial imposter achieved his greatest aspirations, only for them to come crashing down around him. In 2008, after his marriage fell apart and he was arrested for kidnapping his daughter, Gerhartsreiter was caught by the FBI, exposing a life of conspiracies and a connection to the unsolved homicide of a California man and the disappearance of his wife. Now awaiting trial for the 1985 murder of John Sohus, the demons Gerhartsreiter will be forced to face are his own past identities making this, truly, a human interest story of epic proportions.
THE GREAT PRETENDER is filmed, directed and produced by Louise Osmond. The documentary is produced by Uli Hesse and Judith Dawson and executive produced by Edmund Coulthard of Blast! Films. For Investigation Discovery, Liz Massie is executive producer, Sara Kozak is senior vice president of production, Kevin Bennett is general manager, and Henry Schleiff is president and general manager.
About Investigation Discovery
Investigation Discovery (ID) is America's leading mystery-and-suspense network. From harrowing crimes and salacious scandals to the in-depth investigations and heart-breaking mysteries that result, ID challenges our everyday understanding of culture, society and the human condition. ID delivers the highest-quality programming to nearly 80 million U.S. households with viewer favorites that include On the Case with Paula Zahn; Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda; Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?; Disappeared; Stalked: Someone's Watching; and Redrum.
More On: Henry Schleiff, Paula Zahn.