Three Identical Strangers (2018) Movie Script

When I tell people my story
they don't believe it.
I guess I wouldn't believe
the story
if someone else were telling
it, but, I'm telling it
and it's true, every word of it.
It started when I was born,
56 years ago,
but the real story
began when I was 19 years old
and I went to college.
"Since You've Been Gone"
It was 1980.
It was the first day of school
at Sullivan County Community
College up in the Catskills,
about a 110 miles
from where I grew up.
So, I drove up there alone.
I used to have this really
old car. It was a Volvo.
And it was a 1970 Volvo.
Had like 130,000 miles on it.
And the car was burgundy
and the hood was green.
Actually, the car was called
the Old Bitch.
But the Old Bitch got me there.
Sullivan was a community college.
This wasn't some longstanding
institution of higher learning.
All these station wagons
are dropping kids off.
I was nervous,
I'd just gotten to the school,
I didn't know anybody.
I was a freshman.
I was never the captain of the
football team in high school,
so I was never really like popular.
So, I'm walking around
trying to find where my dorm is.
Meanwhile all these people
are coming up to me
saying "Hi, how are you?"
"How was your summer?"
"Mine was great.
How was yours?" "Super."
Why are they asking me
how my summer was? I don't know.
Everybody's being
extremely friendly to me
and they're going
out of their way to do it.
I don't mean just a 'hi',
I mean, claps on the back
and high fives.
And I was a little hit
bewildered by this
because no one gets
this kind of a welcome
on their first day at school.
And girls were kissing me,
like fully kissing me saying,
"I'm so glad you came hack."
And I was saying 'thank you'
and 'hello' back
but I had never been there
before and I didn't know them.
It was bizarre.
And the next thing I heard
from right behind me.
'Welcome back. Eddy!"
"Eddy! How are you'!
Eddy, hi!"
I'm like, "My name's not Eddy.
I don't know
'what you're talking about.
I just got up here."
"Sure, Eddy, you're really funny,
'you're really funny,
real funny."
I'm like, "I'm not Eddy.
I don't know who Eddy is."
'Welcome hack, Eddy",
they were all saying.
I finally made it
to this dump of a dorm room.
Before a minute had gone by...
"Who now? Who now
is gonna come to find Eddy?"
I had been at college
the previous year
with Eddy, and I knew
that he wasn't
coming back to school.
As soon as this guy
turned around, I...
I was, I was actually shaking.
I was... I know all color
from my face dropped
cos I knew it was his double.
He had the same grin, the same
hair, the same expressions.
It was his double.
And I see this guy's face
and he's like...
just standing there.
The first thing out of my mouth
was 'Were you adopted?"
Er... and I was like, "Yes."
I said, "ls your birthday
July 12th?" He. said yes.
I was like, "July 12th 1961."
"My God", I said,
"You're not gonna believe this."
I said, "You have a twin
brother. You have a twin."
"My God."
I said. "Come with me."
And the two of us are crammed
into this phone booth.
Shoulder to shoulder
and you know, we had to like,
close the door of the phone booth.
And I'm trying to put the coins in
and they keep falling on the floor
and Bobby's picking up the coins.
And he calls this guy
and he's like,
"Hey, Eddy, you're not
gonna believe this,
"you're not gonna believe this.
"Eddy, Eddy, you are not
gonna believe this."
This guy's more hysterical
than I am like weirded out.
"Eddy, you are not
gonna believe this."
So I was like,
"Give me the phone."
So I'm like, "Hi, Eddy?"
But it was my voice
that said, "Yes."
And I said, "Hi, Eddy,
my name is Robert Shafran
"and, er... I'm meeting
all these people
"who say I'm you."
And he said, -yeah,
I've been getting some calls."
I said, "Were you adopted?"
and he said, "Yes."
And I said,
"When was your birthday?"
"July 12th."
And I said, "Do you know what
the name of the agency was?"
And he said, "No, hold on."
And I heard him go like, "Mom?"
And he came back and he said,
"Louise Wise Services."
Sometimes when you
are just having a dream,
you know this can't be real,
this can't be real.
But you know there's nothing
you can do to stop it,
start it, change it,
you just go with it
and that's what I was doing.
I just wanted to see
what was gonna happen next.
Now I'm like, let's go.
Let's go to LI.
So we got into the Old Bitch.
It was about 9 o'clock at night
and it's about a two-hour ride.
And we were speeding on route 17.
We were going 100 miles
per hour, perhaps more.
We were speeding.
We're driving as fast
as this car would go.
It was shaking.
And we got pulled over
by a New York State trooper.
And as I roll down my window
there's this gigantic cop
with like the sunglasses
even though it's night time.
And a the big hat.
He said, "You know,
I clocked you at 88 in a 50.
"Son, you better have
a really good reason."
And I was like,
"Well, Officer, you're never
gonna believe this."
The two of us are like
yelling at this guy.
"You, you don't know,
'this guy, this guy
has a twin brother,
"he was adopted and we're going
to Long Island to go see..."
And, and, and the guy was,
"Yeah, right." You know.
"Here's, here's your ticket
have a good day."
And on to Long Island we went.
So, we got there.
But it's like,
the middle of the night.
And it's this really
quiet neighborhood.
So, we get out of the car.
And walk up this little path
to the house.
And the lights were on
in the house.
And I reached out
to knock on the door
and as I reached out
to knock on the door, it opens.
And there I am.
His eyes were my eyes
and my eyes were his eyes
and it's true.
They looked exactly alike.
They're duplicates of each other.
There was no doubt in my mind
that they were twins.
He's going, "My God."
I'm going, "My God."
He's going, "Holy crap."
I'm going, "Holy crap."
They just looked at each other
and they moved...
Every time Bobby moved
his head, Eddy moved
and then Eddy would move
and then Bobby would move,
like, like they were
looking at a mirror.
It was the weirdest thing.
It was like the world faded away,
and it was just me and Eddy.
So, I'm in the newsroom,
it's the middle of a busy day,
we got a call from somebody
who says they have an
amazing story to tell us,
we are not gonna
believe this story,
and my first reaction,
"It's a hoax."
So, I told our reporter,
"I wanna rent a plane."
In those days we had
enough money to do this.
"I wanna rent a plane, I wanna
see these two kids face to lace
"or I don't believe this."
We flew the journalist up
to Sullivan Community College
and he called me and he said,
"Howie, it's true, it's true.
And I remember saying, "My
God, this is a great story.
"This is a memorable
heart-warming story."
And then the story went from
being amazing to incredible, OK,
from amazing to incredible.
I was on the New York Subway.
Quite late at night.
Read an article about two boys
who found each other.
That were twins separated at birth
and found each other
at Sullivan County
Community College.
There was no picture.
But the story was fascinating.
I came home, and went to sleep.
My mother came into the room
and said, "Wake up, wake up,
I have to show you something."
And she shows me a newspaper
with a picture of two boys
and I had to like, focus
and I looked at the photograph
and I said, "Is that David?"
And she's like, "No,
but look at the hands.
And I was like, "Holy mackerel.
This is beyond amazing."
It was a picture
in the newspaper of two guys,
in the "Post" and
I picked up the picture
and I looked at it,
and I was like in shock,
cos the two guys in the "Post"
looked exactly, exactly
like, like my friend David.
I stared at it.
And it wasn't even just
the look on their face.
It was the way that they
were holding their hands.
They have these big meaty hands.
And David always had this,
these hands
that looked like baseball mitts.
And when I saw their hands,
I just knew that this is David.
It was just a normal day.
I got to school,
ran into my buddy Alan.
He said, "David,
take a look at this.
And he's got a copy
of the "New York Post.
And, er...
he opens it up
and says, "Look at this.
"Look, look familiar?"
Something to that effect.
And I said, "Yeah, right. Sure."
But then we looked at it
a little bit more closely.
It was an article, it said,
"Twins reunited
after more than 19 years."
And it had a picture of two
of what looked like me.
It all started to sink in.
"Holy shit, my God.
"Do you? This is un...
this is not believable,
"this is, this is unbelievable.
"This is big, this is serious,
"this is just not some kind
of crazy coincidence.
"This is not a minor resemblance.
'This is real, this is happening,
"this is really,
really serious."
I ditched classes and got home.
My mother was waiting
at the kitchen table
with a cup of coffee.
And I said, "Mom, you see this?"
She said, "You see this?" And
we kinda exchanged newspapers.
It had, "...born Long Island
Jewish Hospital."
"July 12th, 1961."
And it was Louise Wise
adoption agency.
I mean, I always knew growing
up that I was adopted,
My parents were always
open about it.
But it said Eddy Galland
of New Hyde Park, Long Island,
Robert Shafran
of Scarsdale, New York.
I remember it said,
"Son of prominent Scarsdale
physician Mort Shaiman"
and, er... my first thought,
I said,
"He's got the wealthy family.
"That SOB's probably driving
a Benz! He got a doctorate!"
And I remember being
with David in the kitchen.
We were like, really nervous.
I mean we were, you know,
jumping around, it was...
You know, we were 19 years old.
I mean this was surreal.
And David picked up the phone
and he called Information,
and he reached Eddy's mom.
And I said, "Hi, is Eddy home?"
She says, "No,
who's calling, please?"
And I thought, 'OK,
now I've gotta go into
this whole thing on the phone."
I said, "Well, my name
is David Kellman,
"and I was born July 12th 1961
"and I'm looking at a newspaper
"and, er... basically I think
I'm looking at two of me.
"I think I might be the third."
And I think she dropped
the phone, actually.
And I remember hearing
her voice over the phone,
"My God, they're coming out
of the woodwork!"
It was a miracle.
The first time
that the boys met together,
the three together was at my house.
And the three of them ended up
like puppies wrestling
on the floor.
It was the most incredible...
it was the most incredible thing.
They belonged to each other.
They knew each other. There
was no formal introduction.
I mean, when you meet somebody
for the first time
you don't end up rolling around
on the floor with them.
It was truly not fully believable.
Even though it was happening
it was still surreal.
You think you're dreaming.
You're looking and
you're still "My God."
You look at the other one,
"My God."
And then you realize
that they're looking at you
or everybody else
is looking at you too.
To have all three of them
in the house at one time...
It... it was
really madness.
My emotions were shock,
shock and more shock.
I mean, I can't explain it,
I haven't got the terminology.
One of our reporters came
running over to me and said
'You're not gonna believe this,
"you are not gonna believe
the call we just got.
"You know the two kids
on the front page today?
"Well, there's a third."
They even moved the same way.
All of us just sat back
and watched three separate
lives becoming one.
The way I put it was
I looked more like Eddy
than I did David,
and more like David
than I did Eddy,
and more like either of them
than they did like each other.
Does that make sense?
And then we started
comparing notes.
What do 19-year-olds compare?
Booze, cigarettes, food,
women, music, cars.
I had just brought a brand new
Mercury Capri, which I loved.
And Bobby had this,
Maroon beat up old Volvo
with cracked leather seats
and I'm thinking,
"Son of a prominent
Scarsdale physician?"
I think it was Eddy who said
right at the beginning,
"I don't know if this will turn
out to be great or terrible."
So, there was always a question
mark, a big question mark,
about where the story
eventually was going.
We didn't realize from then on
just how much
things were going to change.
'Now one of the most remarkable
stories I've seen in sometime:
'a story about triplets.
'Eddy and Robert and David
reunited after 19 years.'
'We have a story about triplets
that gives new meaning
'to the phrase
long lost brothers.'
We went on everything.
'You're not seeing double
'you are perhaps in a moment
going to be seeing triple.'
'I don't know who's who here.
'Come on out here, gentlemen,
come on out.'
You just had to stop
what you're doing
and watch them
on every different show.
It became a circus,
it became a media circus.
Talk about viral, I mean this
was... it was viral even then.
'You guys have been on the
front page of every newspaper
- 'in the world.'
- True.'
"People Magazine", 'Time Magazine",
even the "New York Times",
"Good Housekeeping".
'David, let's begin with you.
'Which one': David,
I keep forgetting?'
- 'You're Edward?'
- 'Right!
'OK, who are you,
are you David?'
- 'I'm Bobby.'
- 'You're... I'm sorry.
'You're Robert, all right.
Robert and Edward.'
'Come on.'
ll was a fairy tale story.
And people need to hear
wonderful things.
'These three young men,
'they're all seated
in the same position.'
It was kind of amazing.
They really were strangers.
They looked identical to each other
but they were strangers, right?
You know, they really
didn't know one another.
But their behaviors
were so similar.
'Our lives are parallel
to a phenomenal degree.
'It's, it's ridiculous.'
'We're all the same,
'as soon as we started
discussing our personalities.'
'Personalities are the same,
our gestures are the same.'
'We always talk
at the same time.'
'I'll start a sentence
and he'll finish it.'
'We all like
Chinese load.'
'You were all
wrestlers at one time?'
'You all smoke the same brand
of cigarettes?'
'What kind
of cigarettes do you smoke?'
'Do you all smoke
the same brand?'
- 'Do you like the same colors?'
- Wes.'
'Yeah, I was curious,
how's their taste in women,
- 'is it similar?'
- 'Yes. Definitely.'
Il seems they all liked
older women.
'Somebody said
you all liked older women.'
'Another astonishing coincidence
'is that each of the brothers
grew up with an adoptive sister,
'all the girls
now 21 years old.'
'I can't get over it,
I tell you.'
'An extraordinary string
of coincidences
'you all have to agree,
'It's beautiful.'
'You say you love each other,
'but you're only known each
other for such a short time.'
'Doesn't matter, I've known
them my whole life.'
'How long did it take for you
to have that feeling?'
'Like that.'
They were more like clones
than they were like brothers.
It was just absolutely
astounding because they grew up
it would appear to be
pretty different households.
We'd been adopted
by a blue-collar family,
a middle-class family
and a more affluent family.
Bobby's parents, Bobby's father
was a medical doctor.
And his mother was an attorney.
So they were very well educated
and they were living
in one of the most prestigious
areas of the country.
Eddy's father was a teacher,
he had a college education.
And they lived
in what would be considered
a middle-class neighborhood.
My family on paper
were the least educated,
they were immigrants, English
was a second language to them,
they had a little store,
they were the more
blue-collar family.
But my father was just
this incredibly generous warm guy.
David's father, Richard was,
was larger than life.
If you could imagine this guy
was a big guy,
with a big cigar always
hanging out of his mouth.
We referred to him as 'bubala'
He was Bubala.
If you know Yiddish,
'bubala' it's like love,
it's hugging and it's kissing.
We spent more time at David's house
than any place else.
Bubala celebrated us
like no other person.
He said, "I have two more sons."
When the boys found each other
it just sort of happened
then and there.
Here is this wonderful story
and that's it.
Nobody questioned what was going on
except the parents of course.
When the families met up
the first time
there was great anger
in all at them
about the fact that the parents
had never been told
that there were two other children.
They didn't tell us
a word when we were adopting.
We knew nothing about the other two
until, er... the boys met
at, at school,
that was 20 years later.
The first thing
that hit me was what they lost.
I believe they were six months
old when they were separated.
If you imagine those three
little bodies lying together
and suddenly the coldness
of being alone in a crib.
It's a terrible deprivation.
I remember being told by my mother
when I was a baby that I would
slam my head against the wall,
I would basically knock myself out.
My mother said
that I would bang my head
on the inside of the crib...
and I would hold my breath
until I passed out.
I believe it was absolutely
separation anxiety
All of us had been adopted
from Louise Wise Services.
'Louise Wise Services,
'the New York institution
founded back in 1915
'overseen by a board of directors
'drawn from New York City's
'social, financial
and political elite.'
They were the pre-eminent
adoption agency
on the East Coast
for Jewish babies in particular.
That was the place to go.
What we have felt
at Louise Wise Services
where I have been active
for a great longtime,
is that adoptive parents
should be told
as much about the background
of a child as is reasonable.
Our parents they, they, they
wanted answers, they were angry.
And they arranged a meeting
and they... the six of them
went in to Louise Wise Agency
to try to get some answers
in terms of piecing together
what happened.
There was a meeting with
the top brass at the agency.
And they were asked,
"Is it true that you separated
these boys at birth?"
And they said, 'Yes, we did."
How could you not tell us?
What did you do?
Why and how could you?
They said the reason was
because it was hard to place
three children in one home.
The parents had been told that
it was in our best interests
that we'd been split up.
That not every parent
would welcome triplets,
and that triplets would be
difficult to place.
Which... I think at that moment
my father blew his stack.
And just said,
"We would've taken all three.
'There's no question."
And he was furious.
Well, the meeting came to an end.
They all left.
They felt like
they had gotten nothing.
And my father realized that he
had left his umbrella in there.
And he went back
to get the umbrella.
And he walked into the room
to see them breaking open
a bottle of champagne...
and toasting each other
as if they had dodged a bullet.
They looked like they'd
just missed getting hurt
or killed or what have you.
It was a, er...
that was memorable.
All of our parents came
away from that meeting angry.
The parents went to some pretty
prestigious New York law firms
and initially they were met
with a lot of enthusiasm,
and, er... invariably within
a shun period of time
were told, er...
there's a conflict
and they could not take the case.
They said, "We have
a number of associates
'who are trying to adopt
through Louise Wise,
"and we don't wanna ruin
their chances."
So, that lawsuit was out.
We were too happy
being together to be that angry.
We didn't understand it and to
a degree we almost didn't care.
Our heads were in the clouds,
we knew our parents were pissed off
but it was almost like, "Well,
that's our parents' thing to do"
while we were out partying.
This was New York in 1980s.
Drugs were different,
people were different,
sex was different,
music was different.
We just, we just wok
advantage of all those things.
Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll.
They were running amok
in New York, I'll say.
Studio 54 was cooking.
Limelight. Copacabana.
They were hitting them all.
New York loved us.
New York loved us.
All the newspapers
were following the boys around
no matter where we went.
I remember one morning walking in
and my mother throwing
the "New York Post" at me,
at the kitchen table saying,
"I gotta look at the paper
"to find out where you were
last night?"
The boys thought
they were gonna be stars,
and actually they did star
in one movie.
Walking down the street,
all of a sudden we hear,
"Guys, guys, you're the guys!
"Could you please be in our movie?
"Please be in my movie."
We didn't know who she was,
and she was, she was Madonna.
They stood on the side
and ogled her.
Pretty soon we got
an apartment together,
the triplets apartment.
The triplets apartment.
It's like if you had
the most bachelor apartment
times three.
The liquor store
used to deliver the liquor,
At one point Eddy had appendicitis.
He had no insurance.
And so he checked
into the hospital as Bobby.
And had his appendix taken out as Bobby.
I hope to this day Bobby's
appendix stays pretty healthy.
Between working together,
playing together,
going out together,
going on dates together,
living together,
from the time we met till...
well till later
there was nothing, nothing
that could keep us apart.
I feel like I was
the first serious girlfriend.
Initially I couldn't really
tell them apart
and I would bump into them
and I wasn't quite sure
which one I was
going out with, so...
Bob has this very raw, natural,
type of intelligence
that I think I was attracted too.
I always thought David
was the best, right,
of the three of them.
I, I've said it before, you know,
"I got the pick of the litter."
Without a doubt, Eddy
was the, er... handsomest
of all the three
triplets, you know.
Of course, I'm partial
but, you know, I adored him.
When I met him,
he was the last holdout.
The Casanova of the three
and, er... I said,
"Boy, this guy's
a real bachelor, like player."
But he was so warm in his smile
and he had wonderful
beautiful hands, soft hands
and when I shook his hand
I mean, I just, l...
You know, I just
fall in love with him.
I'm from a big colorful
Irish catholic family
and he was a Jewish guy.
When he came to the house
for the first time,
he looked at my dad and he said,
"I don't know if you know this,
Mr Stanley,
"I've been seeing Brenda
every night pretty much
"since the first day I met her."
And I thought, "my God,
"my dad knows that, you know,
we're together every night."
And my dad just son of, you
know, looked at me like, "OK"
and that was Eddy.
- 'I do.'
- 'l do.'
'We love you.'
Everyone loved him.
If there was a scale,
Bobby would be reserved,
David would be middle
and Eddy was just
the loveable, mushy,
huggable, funny,
you know, he just exuded
warmth and love.
'Jamie's first
Thanksgiving with Daddy.'
- 'Hi, look who's here.'
- 'Yes, Daddy.'
'Daddy decided to show up
'and make a special
guest appearance.'
'Happy birthday, dear Jamie"
"Happy birthday to you"
He loved family gatherings.
You know, Eddy really, really loved
being around David and Bobby.
Eddy seemed to get the most out
of the three of them meeting.
For whatever reason.
He wanted his brothers
and him to have a beautiful life
and everyone to get along
and he wanted everyone
to be one big family.
Eddy was absolutely
the driving force
in terms of leading the search
for our birth mother.
He got a fever
and he just wanted to do it.
And Alan was also rallying,
because it was just
an exciting thing to do.
We figured what are the chances
of having triplets born in New York
on July 12th 1961.
We figured out
that New York Public Library
shared birth records.
We each grabbed a book
and went page by page, by page, by page.
And within a couple of hours,
it was, "Bingo!"
Male, male, male.
Three in a row.
All born July 12th 1961.
Right next to it,
birth mother's last name.
The first meeting was in a bar
on like, 47th Street.
It was like, her local
neighborhood watering hole
on the East side,
and it was awkward.
She told the story
of what happened.
Unfortunately it wasn't
a romantic story.
She was a young girl.
Basically, prom night
knock up type thing.
I don't think
she ever got over the fact
that she had triplets
and had to give them up.
You know, to us at 19,
you drink like a fish,
you think you're invincible.
But we found it a little concerning
that she was pretty much
keeping up with us, you know.
Er... the apple doesn't fall
that far from the tree
and it that's the tree,
I was less than thrilled,
and we had our parents already,
so we met her and it was OK.
But she was not a particularly
close part of our lives.
We were all young and starting
our marriages and careers.
'Hi, welcome to Triplets.'
'David Kellman,
Eddy Galland and Robert Shafran
'are identical triplets.
'Now they run a New York
restaurant called,
'what else, you guessed,
Triplets, '
'Welcome. Hello.
Welcome, welcome.'
We had a lot of people
who were coming for us.
They came to see the triplets.
They wanted to be waited
on by one of the triplets.
We served vodka, frozen
blocks of ice,
and we'd get the whole roam
up and dancing.
It was like this
big party going on,
it was like this big Bar Mitzvah.
'Triplets become wildly successful
'owning a restaurant
'in the Soho district
of New York City.'
We did over
a million dollars first year.
That's when things kinda got funky.
In the mid-90s
I started working on a story
for "The New Yorker" magazine
about identical twins reared apart.
I've always thought,
"What would it be like
if you turned
"the corner one day
and you saw yourself?"
In the process of my research,
I came across this obscure
scientific article.
It referenced this secret study
in which identical siblings
had been separated.
I was shocked and intrigued.
They were separating
identical babies at birth
for the purpose
of this scientific experiment.
And these babies had all come
from one adoption agency
in New York City.
'The first thing out of my mouth
'was, "Were you adopted?'
There I am,
this can't he real.'
'Twins separated
at birth.'
'Eddy and Robert and
David reunited after 19 years.'
'It's beautiful.'
'Blue-collar family,
middle-class family
'and a more affluent family.'
'Adoptive parents should be told
as much as is reasonable.'
was just not right.'
'They were breaking
open a bottle of champagne
'as if they had
dodged a bullet.'
'All of us were adopted
from Louise Wise.'
'Louise Wise.'
'And these babies had all come
from Louise 'Wise Services.'
Lawrence Wright called me
and he told me
all about the experiment.
And I said, "This is
like Nazi shit."
lt was kind of like reality
hitting like a tidal wave.
We were a science experiment.
These people split us up
and studied us like lab rats.
We didn't recognize this stuff
until it was put in our face.
Until it was in newsprint.
But there were clues in the past,
I remember from a very young age...
people would come to the house...
"usually a young man
and a young woman.
And they had me taking tests.
They did IQ tests,
personality inventory tests,
they did eye-hand
co-ordination tests.
I do remember people coming
to the house, having tests done,
square pegs and round holes,
and Rorschach ink block tests.
"What does this mean to you?"
that kind of stuff.
Eddy told me
that when he was younger,
he remembers people
watching him and taking notes,
and they would ask him questions
and he would get frustrated
with the questions.
And he remembers
they were videotaping him.
I remember the filming
more than anything else.
I remember having
super 8 mm films taken of me
when I was on the swing set,
or on the slide.
Every single time they came
they filmed.
Riding my bike, throwing a ball,
and they wanted to see
how many times I could,
you know, go on my pogo stick,
throwing a frisbee,
shooting a how and arrow,
you know, they had my attention.
I was performing.
The stuff they did would be
more complex as I got older.
Hell weird about it,
I didn't really understand
why they needed to some so often,
why were they asking me
all these questions.
Somewhere around age of nine or ten
I started becoming
less comfortable with it,
and it was kinda like, "Mom,
do I still have to do this?
"Do I still have to do this?"
When our parents adopted us
they were each told
that we were being followed
as part of a normal study
of the development
of adopted children,
They had no idea
that we'd been separated.
The agency said the children
born in this period of time
were all gonna be in a normal
study of adopted children.
And, as far as we knew,
that was it.
That this was a new thing
they were going to follow up
with all the children
and at the time we accepted it.
You're talking
about a group of people
that went and held a baby
and did psychological testing
on a six-month-old baby,
and then went to another house
to see his brother,
and then went to another house
to see his brother,
and did this over years
and years and years and years
with full knowledge
that we were within
a 100-mile radius.
And not knowing each other.
It's just unconscionable.
Who would think that anybody
would be evil enough
to come up
with something like this?
In the process of my research,
I learned is that the person
really in charge of the study
was Dr Peter Neubauer,
very distinguished psychiatrist
in New York,
director of the Freud archives.
He was an Austrian refugee
from the Holocaust
and he set up shop in New York
and became, you know,
one of the great men
of psychiatry in America.
What I learned is that people
at the Louise Wise agency
were separating identical siblings
and then a team of scientists
led by Neubauer
would follow them.
But it wasn't just the triplets.
There were others.
After my article came out
another twin set
discovered themselves.
'And here they are now.
'I appreciate you coming
on the show today.'
- 'Our pleasure.'
- 'Paula and Elyse.'
'The story is incredible.
Is that the way to tell it?'
'It's funny. I mean, we say
If it hadn't happened to us
- 'we wouldn't believe it.'
- 'This is a Disney movie.'
'It's a little darker
than a Disney movie.
'I was at home
in my apartment in Brooklyn
'with my two-year-old daughter,
'and the phone rings
and I answer the phone
'and it was the adoption agency.
We've got some news for you,
you've got a twin sister.
"And she's looking for you!"
'You were both editors
of your high school paper,
'you both went to film school.'
'Well, it's funny because I
don't know if you noticed...'
'Our mannerisms are inherited.'
'I contacted the adoption agency
'and I asked them, "Well,
why were we separated?
'That's the million-dollar
question of this story.'
'And they said,
"For a twin study."
'We felt that our lives
had been orchestrated
'by these scientific researchers
'who put their scientific needs,
'research needs or desires,
their career interests
'before the needs of us,
and the interests of us
'and other twins and triplets
who were separated.'
Nobody is sure
of how many identical twins
were involved in this study.
I was told six to eight,
but we don't really know.
When you have a study like this,
normally you produce the results
and you show how large
the sample is
and all this sort of thing.
But this study was never published,
Which makes it all
the more intriguing.
We did have an attorney
try to get us
some of the study records.
We received a small amount
of information.
It was very dry, technical data,
that didn't really shed any light
on the reasons for the study.
It was garbage.
I don't know what the results were,
or if there ever were results
because I never saw them.
They're trying
to conceal what they did
from the people they did it to.
I mean, what was the purpose of it?
The study was never
published. Why?
My name is Natasha Josefowitz...
and I was Peter Neubauer's
research assistant.
So, come on in.
Would you like a cup of coffee?
Here are some of my buddies.
Michelle Obama and I.
She is very tall.
I'm like a little shrimp
next to her,
I come up to her right here.
This is Obama three years ago,
and here he is holding
my latest hook.
I have to tell you.
I said, "Barack, I love you."
He said, "I love you too", and
he gave me a kiss on this cheek.
Yeah. This is Robert Redford
and Al Gore.
And this is Errol Flynn and me
when I was 18.
I thought he was a hoot.
When are we gonna talk
about the twin study?
You need to know
I am not part of the team,
I am a peripheral person.
I just do the hearsay.
The first time I heard
about the twin study,
it was still just a dream
in Peter's head.
What was he like'!
Sexy, nice looking, interesting.
His background was very Freudian.
Anna Freud, Freud's daughter,
would often some
and visit with him.
He was very focused on wanting
to make a difference
in children's lives.
Peter started thinking,
wouldn't it be interesting
to have a study of mothers
who wanted to give up
their children.
Who happen to be identical twins
and then could be
separated at birth?
If we could put them in two
totally different environments,
we would put to rest the dilemma,
nature or nurture, forever.
Now you may think,
"this is terrible, you know,
"how could you do this?"
You have to put yourself back
in the late 50s and 60s.
This was not something
that seemed to be bad.
Nobody said, "To take children
apart, how terrible."
That was not at all
in anyone's thoughts.
This was a very exciting time.
Psychology was just beginning
to be the big deal
that everybody was talking about.
This was all in terms
of research. An opportunity.
One of the great questions
that science has ever asked
is "How do we become
the people we are,
"how much of nature
versus how much of nurture
"shapes us into the people
that we become?
I did not go and do the research.
But I would hear about it
because I was in the office.
What they found out,
was incredible.
'Our lives are parallel
to a phenomenal degree.
'It's, it's ridiculous.'
'We're all the same,
'as soon as we started
discussing our personalities.'
'Personalities are the same,
our gestures are the same.'
'We always talk
at the same time.'
'You were raised
in different homes?'
I did not believe that it'd be
as much hereditary as it was,
that was more
than any of us thought.
'I'll start a sentence
and he'll finish it.'
'We all like Chinese food.'
'You were all wrestlers
at one time?'
- 'You all smoke cigarettes?'
- Yes.'
'Do you all smoke
the same brand?'
- 'Do you like the same colors?'
- Yes.'
'How's their taste in women,
is it similar?'
'Yes. Definitely.'
We are moved to behaviors
that we are totally
unconscious about.
'You were both editors
of your high school paper,
'you both went to film school.'
'I don't know if you noticed...'
'Our mannerisms are inherited.'
It's disturbing,
we don't like that.
People don't like to hear,
they say, "I have free will."
We would prefer that we have
some influence over our lives.
Wouldn't you rather know that'?
That you have
some control over this
and so finding out, never mind,
doesn't matter what you do.
So, I think
it's upsetting to people
to see how little influence
they have,
how little control they have.
We don't like that, we fight that.
If the conclusions of the study
were so shocking
and so earth-shaking,
why haven't you published
your study?
There is a lot that we don't know.
We have anecdotes
that are very provocative,
but we don't know,
we don't have the data.
I don't know
what happened to the study.
I moved to Switzerland in 1965
and lost touch
with what was going on.
All that research should be seen.
This study was the first,
and it's also the last,
it will never be done again,
il will never be replicated.
It's monumental,
it's a monumental study.
In terms of the motivation they used
to justify what they did,
I don't even care because, I...
It's not justifiable what they did.
You know what?
Coming from the Holocaust,
our family has a knowledge
that when you play with humans...
you do something very wrong.
And I really believe that
because of this research,
these three boys
did not have happy endings.
'What were some of the similarities
'you found that you had
as you were all growing up
'in your own respective
'We all smoked the same
cigarettes when we met,
'we all wrestled
in high school and junior high,
'we all loved the same food, er...
'our taste in women
was similar.'
'What are some
of the stranger things
'you found out you had in common?
'Any other more
surprising discoveries?'
'Well, sometimes when you think
'you're having
a unique thought or idea
'and you go to share it
with someone
'and they say, "Your brother
just told me."
- 'It's a little annoying.'
- 'It's funny.'
'It's a little annoying,
it's unnerving.'
Being in business with my brothers
damaged our relationship.
There were conflicting work ethics,
and my father had passed away.
He really anchored us together
as a group
and kept the peace so to speak,
They started to argue
like kids would argue, you know.
And they didn't have
that opportunity,
that gift of being able
to be brothers for 18 years.
When you are living
in a family of children
you learn how to adjust to each other.
If I don't like the way
you do this, I can get angry,
or I can learn to compromise.
But they met as adults.
And had never learned
how to live with each other.
As things went on,
things got more complicated,
and as things got more complicated,
what ended up happening was I left.
When Bobby left the business
Eddy and I felt
that we were being betrayed.
Bobby felt that
he was being pushed out.
Either way, it did major, major
damage to the relationship.
I think that took
an extreme loll on Eddy
more so than I think
David and Bobby.
Eddy was always the one
who just wanted to have
everybody be at peace together,
and Eddy was, was very
upset about it.
He was kind of crushed
about it. It was eating at him.
He dearly loved them,
and he wanted his brothers
to be together.
He was just not really sure
how to deal with it all.
You're just seeing a lot more
kind of up and down behaviors,
erratic behaviors.
growing a heard.'
'Fur face, that's me.'
'Jeez, wake the child.'
your daddy is fuzzy.'
You're just seeing a lot more
unnatural highs and lows.
He would call people and...
at bizarre hours of the evening,
and then they would say,
"I haven't seen or heard
from Eddy in ten years.
"Why is he picking up
the telephone and calling me
"at two o'clock
in the morning?"
You know, those are,
those are signs.
This was just...
this was more
than just somebody
who needed counseling.
This was, like, really
something very, very serious.
He could be unbelievably charming.
But the downswing
was a lot of anger.
Er... there was just
deep, deep darkness.
Manic depression
I think was what
they eventually said.
It made sense in hindsight
I didn't walk down the aisle
thinking, you know,
"I have a man who is suffering
from manic depression."
People will say, "How
could you not know?", but...
he was so unique
and so wonderful and special,
you just... that was Eddy,
you know.
I was advised that he needed
to be in a... a facility.
I mean, I felt bad that
I put him through this trauma
of going into a psych ward
because I had been in a psych
ward and I know how hard It is.
When I was a kid, I spent my
16th birthday in a psych ward.
We all were really disturbed kids.
We were all under psychiatric
care when we were teenagers.
We all had very challenging
and dysfunctional teenage years.
Could we ask about personal?
One of you were involved
in a murder,
is that right?
It's up to you guys.
No. No.
People Magazine...
One was accused of
being involved in a murder.
And it was me,
who never met this person
who was killed,
never was present
or anything like that.
It was peer pressure.
Friends pressuring me
into covering for them,
telling a story for them
to the police
and that pulled me right into it.
I've never hurt anyone in my life.
We know it, we can feel it.
We can feel it.
A lot of people in this study
had dysfunctional childhoods
and some mental problems
and it raises questions, you know.
If you are a person
who has devoted your life,
like Dr Neubauer has
to the study of mental illness,
then is that a factor
that you are researching?
'The story is incredible.
This is a Disney movie.'
'It's a little darker
than a Disney movie.'
When we first met we realized
we had all these similarities,
we had similar mannerisms,
we both had studied film.
And then we also found out
we both had suffered
from depression.
So, this is the letter
that I received
from Louise Wise Services.
"You were born at 12.51 pm
on October 9, 1968,
"to a 29-year-old Jewish
single woman.
"She was very intelligent
with a high IQ.
"She entered college
on a merit scholarship
"but emotional problems
interrupted her attendance,
"She had a history
of voluntary hospitalizations
"for emotional problems.
"Although I have not
been able lo locate
"the original medical reports,
secondary sources noted
"that your mother's diagnosis
was schizophrenia."
It was really disturbing
to read that my birth mother
had been in and out
of institutions.
I started finding out more
about the other twins
and triplets in the study,
and it turns out that
not only had many of them
struggled with mental
health problems.
But that their birth parents
had mental health issues.
And their adoptive families
had never been told.
How possible is it
that your mother
had mental health issues?
Er... I don't think
they were severe.
L, I think that she was, er...
She may have had some minor,
minor issues, er...
She may have had some, a little
bit more than minor issues.
Were the scientists
purposefully choosing children
whose biological parents
had a mental illness,
and placing them
into different homes
to see, is mental illness
Eddy was in the hospital
for I think it was three weeks.
And then he came back to work
at the restaurant.
I wasn't there. David
was with him, all the time.
I think maybe he can give you
better detail about it.
I was running the kitchen.
Eddy wasn't in.
I was running the kitchen,
he was running
the front of the house.
That's the way it worked.
And I didn't know where he was,
and he lived across the street.
So, David called me
from the restaurant
and he asked me
to look out the window
to see if Eddy's car
was in the driveway,
because if it were in the driveway,
we knew that he was home.
So, the car was in the driveway,
and I said to David, er...
"Do you want me
to go over there?"
And David said, "Yes."
And she called me back
a few minutes later
and her voice
was trembling and shaking.
She said,
"You've gotta come home."
And I said, "Why?"
And she said, "Please,
you've just gotta come home."
And I, er... I pulled up
we lived across the street.
I pulled up, kind of, just...
cop cars were all there
and I just kind of,
pulled up on... you know,
blocking half the street,
left the door open
and started running into the house
and the cops grabbed me and
they wouldn't let me come in.
They said, "You don't,
you don't wanna see this.
"You can't see this,
you don't wanna see this.
"You, you don't wanna see this."
And that's when I knew he was gone.
I told Bobby, "I need
to talk to you."
And it's as if he, he kind of knew.
He kind of knew, before
the words came out of my mouth.
Eddy committed suicide.
Eddy shot himself.
He look his own life.
I don't remember who told us.
I just remember darkness.
Buried him on Father's Day,
I gave the eulogy,
and I don't remember
everything I said,
but I do remember saying
that my brother Eddy
could light up a room
with his smile.
Why Eddy? Why Eddy?
Why not me?
I've asked myself
that a hundred times.
I'd rather it was me than Eddy.
I, I don't know why Eddy
and why not me.
Maybe just because...
I don't know, I just don't know.
I, I, can't answer this.
Thank you, Bobby.
You're welcome.
I'd like to know
the truth about the experiment.
My understanding, within
this small group of twins
that were separated and studied,
there was more than one suicide.
It's almost impossible
just to be a coincidence.
Given Eddy's mental illness...
who knows what's in their DNA.
If they have anything conclusive
that is in any way predicting
anything in the future
that I need to know about,
I wanna know about it.
There is still so much
that we don't know.
I have more questions
than I have answers.
One of the things
about being a journalist
is that you don't know
what you are gonna find out.
Sometimes you know
what you didn't find out
which is frustrating
like with this story.
Well, I didn't get
to the bottom of it
because I never got
to see the study.
As no one has, you know.
That would be the bottom of it.
But that's why
this is so tantalizing.
Here's the research that I kept
from when I was writing
about twins.
It's been a while since
I've had a look at this box.
This is interesting.
Mini cassettes.
Before he passed away I managed
to talk to Dr Neubauer.
He was reluctant,
he had not ever spoken about it
to my knowledge.
All right, let's see
what he has to say.
'OK, I've got it on now.
'How did this study
come about?'
'I tell you,
'I would rather
not want to speak about it.'
'Really? Why?'
we have published it.'
'-When do you plan to publish it?'
'Well, maybe, we would publish
'in about a year,
a year and a half from now.'
He was certainly elusive,
he was protecting something.
'Well, tell me a little bit
about the scope of the study
'and how many people
were involved in it?'
'The study was only
based on a small number
'of identical twins
separated at birth,
'for many, many reasons.
'I don't want to talk
about that now.
'We had to stop it because
it became too expensive.'
'Who was
your primary support?'
'Some private family foundations.
'We got some money
from Washington.'
Private charities and
Washington, what does that mean?
And I don't know where
their funding came from.
'OK, thanks again
for your time.'
I think that there's
a great deal of sensitivity
about this story.
There's a lot of powerful people
who would like
to have this story silenced.
What happened to the study
as far as you're aware?
Before Neubauer died in 2008,
he left all the research materials
in an archive at Yale University.
Neubauer placed it under seal,
for decades and decades.
So far as I know
nobody's been able to access it.
what do we have here?
This is the Yale University
website, and this appears to be
the Guide to Adoption Study Records
of the Child Development Center.
66 boxes filled with information:
charts, films and tapes
and research findings.
Home visits, that's a big one.
It says that the dates of the
study were from 1960 to 1980.
I guess our reunion,
kind of closed the study.
"Information about access.
"The records are restricted
until 2066."
It's sealed!
So, they did all that they did
to have this whole list tucked away
in a dusty library somewhere,
where nobody can touch it.
"Researchers wishing
to use these records
"before this date must secure
"written authorization
from the Jewish Board
"of Family and Children's
The Jewish Board
was the parent organization
of the Child Development Center
run by Peter Neubauer.
My understanding is that
they are a very, very
powerful organization
with very deep
political connections,
'Thank you for calling
'the Jewish Board of Family
and Children Services.'
Yes, hi. My name
is David Kellman, er...
and apparently, I was a,
one of the subjects of a study,
run by the Child Development
Center many years ago,
and it's being kept
at Yale University.
- Yes?'
- And on their website it says
that I would need permission
from the board
in order to gain access
to those records,
and somehow the receptionist
got me to you.
'OK. Er...
'I'm not aware of any of that
stuff or when the study was,
'but I can...'
There have been
a number of journalists
and as far as I know,
some of the twins
that were involved in this study
who have tried to gain access
to this material.
So far as I know
they haven't been able to see
the results of this study.
Is there a way that I can go
directly to someone
that would be able
to provide access to me,
as I was one of the subjects
within the study?
If anybody should have the right
to see all this material,
it's the people that were actually
the subject of the study.
They should know what was learned.
'I mean, I have no idea
'who would even be the one
to ask right now.
'I would need
to look into that.'
OK, so you're the first line
of defense, so to speak.
'I guess, yeah.'
OK, I will send an email to you.
I'll put at the subject line,
is going to be, er...
"Twin Studies".
Louise Wise Services
is long closed.
Peter Neubauer passed away.
And yet we still don't know exactly
what they were looking for,
or what they found out.
I'm a Clinical Psychologist
and I was a research assistant
on Peter Neubauer's study.
I believe I am the only person
who worked on this study
who is willing
to go on record
about what was done.
I was 24.
This is essentially my first job.
You know, you had to be careful
to not let on that, er...
"Gee, you look just
like your, your twin brother."
I would've been fired
on the spot, right?
It was a little tempting, yeah,
there was, there was
a little bit of temptation.
It's like,
"Hey, I, I know your twin.
"I saw somebody a week ago
who was exactly like you."
The question whether
I feel guilty is interesting
because I never felt
a responsibility.
I came on after this was designed.
However, I was a participant,
so you could say I was
ethically compromised by that.
In retrospect, I think it was
undoubtedly ethically wrong.
I got some notes here. OK.
These are my actual original notes,
copies of psychologicals
that I did.
And who in, who in
particular are in these files?
Well, I have the triplets.
Here we go.
I, I'm not gonna mention
the name. but, er...
"He's a loud, energetic boy.
"His need to establish his autonomy
"takes to the form of showing off,
"both his intelligence
and his strength,
"and putting down others
including his parents."
Yeah, this one's eager
to show off his new bicycle
and all of his sports equipment
while I filmed him.
He was very intense in his play
and got quite... rough.
This kid had some problems.
Hyper aggressiveness.
OK, so apparently,
his parents are not cognizant
of his problems,
nor are they able to help him
understand his weaknesses
and establish more appropriate
control over his actions.
So, I didn't think the parents
were very tuned in
to the struggles
this youngster was having.
What were the findings
of the study?
I have no idea because
I left the study after 10 months
and the results
were never published,
All I have is my little,
tiny piece.
It's a mystery, it's a huge loss.
All this important scientific data
is just buried in these archives.
So, some people have speculated
that the purpose of the study,
ultimate purpose,
was looking at mental health.
I... there was, there was never
a mention of mental health
of the biological parents
when I was in the study.
We were not interested
in mental health,
that's not what
we were interested in.
We were looking
for differences in parenting.
We wanted to understand
parenting practices
and how it would affect
So, you're saying
they were interested more
in the family dynamics?
But they couldn't have
known that. They didn't know
how the families
were going to interact
with this newly-adopted child.
The only way
they could possibly know
about the family dynamics
was if they already had a child
placed in that family.
'Another astonishing coincidence
'in this story
is that each of the brothers
'grew up in their families
with an adopted sister,
'all the girls
now 21 years old.'
The triplets,
they all had an older sibling.
They were placed in families
where there was an older
adopted child
that had been placed with,
by Louise Wise.
That was part of the design.
It's good to see you.
It's good to see you.
I'd just like
to show you guys a clip.
It's Lawrence Perlman, who was
a Researcher on the study.
'What were
the findings of the study?
'I have no idea because
they were never published.
'We were looking
for differences in parenting.
'We wanted to understand
parenting practices
'and how it would affect
'The triplets
were placed in families
'where there was an older
adopted child
'that had been placed with,
by Louise Wise.
'That was part of the design.'
How do you feel watching that?
Like a lab rat.
It, it only just makes it
that much... it just only...
lt just makes it...
- That much worse.
- Much more duplicitous.
They're not just studying the kids,
but they're studying the parents.
So, they did in fact know the
parenting style of each parent.
So, this was not, you know...
Obviously it was far
from a random selection.
They knew exactly
who they had chosen
to place each one of us with
when they called the Gallands,
and the Kellmans, and the Shafrans.
In terms of how
they parented their children
the three families
were quite, quite different.
David's father stood out.
There was nobody in the world
like his son.
He was so proud of him.
Whatever he did was wonderful.
Bobby's father
was very busy as a doctor
and didn't have the time
to be with Bobby
that David's father had,
but was as devoted to him
as possible.
The most traditional
was Eddy's father...
who was rather strict.
He was the boss.
He made the rules and Eddy
was supposed to follow.
Eddy's relationship
with his father...
it couldn't have been good.
And that matters.
And why do you
say it couldn't have been good?
Because otherwise,
I would have known him,
we would have seen him,
Eddy would have talked about him.
This was the last picture
we ever had of Edward.
He was very gregarious.
He got into all the things
young guys do.
He wrecked a car
and a few things like that, but...
I mean, occasionally
I disciplined him.
Eddy and his dad
were very different as people.
Eddy was more artsy, kinda kid,
you know, he wasn't into sports.
Elliott had a very
strong militaristic
kind of approach to life,
very traditional.
He was a teacher,
he was all about punctuality.
I was a strict disciplinarian,
and my children unfortunately
had me as a strict
disciplinarian too.
Eddy said he always
sort of didn't feel
like he fit in with his family.
He always felt like, like
he wasn't in the right place.
How much did you have any sense
that Edward was unhappy?
He didn't discuss
his problems with me.
We were a rather quiet family.
We didn't tell our problems
to one another.
We protected each other.
It was a nice family.
Some people
are just not a good fit.
It wasn't his father's fault.
Elliot did what he believed
to be best as a parent.
They were just different people.
I got the phone call from...
I believe it was Bobby.
And he told me to sit down
and I said no need to.
And he told me about it.
And then standing right there
I went over to my wife
and told her Edward
had committed suicide.
And we stood there
for quite a while, crying.
And... that was it.
I often wondered whether
I didn't teach him something...
because of the way he left.
I don't know.
Maybe I didn't teach him something,
how to live life or something.
That bothers me occasionally.
Why did the boys' lives
turn out completely different?
I don't need to read any hooks,
I don't need to read any studies.
I saw it first hand
with those three boys.
It's all about nurture.
'These three young men
'they are all seated
in the same position.'
We found a lot of similarities
because that's what people
were looking for.
They smoke the same
kind of cigarettes.
You say, "My God,
'They're smoking Marlboros,
that's amazing.'
What you're not looking for
are their differences.
'I can't get over it,
I'm telling you.
'You all wrestled
at one time?'
We found the ways
that we were alike
and we emphasized them
and we wanted to be alike.
We were falling in love
with each other.
I think there
were superficialities.
They liked the same things
and they had similar interests,
but deep down they were different.
They were not a case study
of biology being destiny.
I've come to believe
genes and the environment
are close competitors.
You could say that we drift
in the direction
that our genes tell us to go
but it doesn't mean
you are destined
to be one person or another.
I believe that I'm still here today
because of the foundation that
was given to me by my parents.
I believe that absolutely
made a difference
in terms of struggling
with whatever demons
I struggle with.
I believe nature
and nurture both matter.
But I think nurture
can overcome nearly everything.
Because the study's
never been published
we simply don't know definitively
how many people's lives
were separated in this fashion.
There may still be twins out there
who still don't know
they are twins.
There are probably
at least four individuals
who were subjects of this study
who don't know
that they have a twin.
If they know that there
are still twins out there
that are missing out on life,
it boggles the mind.
There's two ways
of thinking about it.
These people really should know
that there is a twin,
or, "My God, these people
should not know
"that they were used this way,
that will make them so upset."
Maybe this is why the study
cannot be published as yet,
until they're gone.
Il really opens up the possibility.
Anybody can just
walk around the comer
and discover that you
have a twin out there.