New York State Department of Correctional Services / Getty Images
Sidney Poitier, who died at the age of 94 on Thursday, did not star in Will Smith’s 1993 film Six degrees of separation, but it would not have been made without him.
The play and film told the story of David Hampton, a young man from real life who cheated wealthy New Yorkers in the 80s by pretending to be Poitier’s son.
Hampton, who died at the age of 39 in 2003, first began his scam in 1983, according to Los Angeles Times. He was caught in October of that year, but not before convincing people that he was a Harvard student who was able to access the homes of a Columbia University dean and president of the television station WNET, per. LA Times.
Stock Photos / Getty
He was from Buffalo, New York
While claiming to be a descendant of a Hollywood icon, Hampton actually grew up in Buffalo, New York, as the son of a lawyer. Hampton saw its hometown as a place without any “glamorous or fabulous or outrageously talented”, according to LA Times.
When he arrived in New York, Hampton enjoyed money and clothes as a host to the wealthy, whom he charmed with tales of his life with Poitier, according to LA Times.
” New York was the place for him, ” said Susan V. Tipograph, a lawyer and Hampton’s friend. New York Times. ” In his mind, the amazing people lived in New York City. ”
RELATED: What to know about Sidney Poitier’s deceased daughter, Gina, who died at the age of 57
He was eventually captured and arrested
While Hampton was able to remove his scam for some time, he was eventually caught. Hampton was formally charged with attempted burglary when he was 19, according to police New York Times. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison.
When he was arrested in New York, Hampton had previous charges on his post, according to LA Times. He had been arrested six times before in New York and Buffalo.
RELATED: Sidney Poitier remembered by Oprah Winfrey and several stars after his death: “What a Landmark Actor”
He sued Six degrees of separation
Hampton’s New York life inspired Six degrees of separation, originally written as a play by John Guare in 1990. The successful stage production was later transformed into a 1993 film starring Donald Sutherland, Stockard Channing and Will Smith.
Hampton sued Guare and others for $ 100 million, but lost accordingly New York Times. He “felt entitled to a cut in cash,” per LA Times, and was given a court order to distance himself from the playwright after Guare said Hampton threatened him.
Tiopgraph, Hampton’s friend, told LA Times“I think he felt used by Mr Guare. I will let history judge that.”
He died in 2003
Hampton died in 2003 at Beth Israel Hospital, where he had lived in an AIDS home and worked on a book about his life, per. LA Times.