The Rockefeller tale begins with German con artist Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter (McCormack) coming to the U.S. in 1979 as a foreign exchange student. He used a series of aliases, impersonating a talk show host and a Pentagon adviser, among others. Gerhartsreiter soon became a fixture in Boston high society for more than a decade after he claimed to be Clark Rockefeller, an heir to the famous dynasty. The deception was described as "the longest con in FBI history." He eventually married Sandra Boss, a millionaire with a Harvard MBA and a partner at the prestigious business consulting firm McKinsey & Co. After losing custody of their daughter during the divorce, Rockefeller kidnapped the girl during a supervised visit in July 2008. The abduction and Rockefeller's apprehension after the safe retrieval of his daughter drew nationwide attention and led to the discovery of his real identity. At a trial this spring, Gerhartsreiter was sentenced to four to five years in prison for the kidnapping.
Will & Grace
star Eric McCormack won an Emmy® for his comic acting abilities, but Who Is Clark Rockefeller?
, a made-for-TV film, shows that McCormack has significant dramatic talent as well. McCormack, along with fellow TV vet Sherry Stringfield (ER
), keep this somewhat formulaic movie on track with their strong, compelling performances. Based on a true case, Who Is Clark Rockefeller?
traces the life of Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a German-born con artist who, incredibly, manages to take on dozens of personas in the United States in the last couple of decades of the 20th century, eluding capture and entangling hundreds in his web of lies. McCormack plays Gerhartsreiter, whose last great scam is masquerading as an heir to the Rockefeller fortune, "Clark Rockefeller." Using this false identity, he is able to gain access to Boston's high society and to wed a wealthy, intelligent woman, Sandra Boss (Stringfield), and father an adorable daughter. Only when the "Rockefellers'" marriage comes apart does Boss begin to understand who her pathological husband really is--and what desperate acts he is capable of. Who Is Clark Rockefeller?
is reminiscent of Six Degrees of Separation
but also recalls The Deliberate Stranger
, the unsettling '80s TV movie about Ted Bundy that showed that Mark Harmon is an actor of depth, layers, and immense talent. Who Is Clark Rockefeller?
is a great showcase for the talents of McCormack and Stringfield, who demonstrate why they are such gifted actors. Fans of true crime, romance, and mystery will not want to miss Who Is Clark Rockefeller?
--even if they cannot quite pin down the answer. --A.T. Hurley