5 True Stories of Twins Separated at Birth


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'Three Identical Strangers'

"Three Identical Strangers," a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018, follows the story of triplet brothers who were separated — dastardly so, as it turns out — shortly after their birth in 1961.

The brothers found each other 19 years later by a fateful fluke when one enrolled in a New York college that another had attended. Almost immediately upon stepping on campus, Brother 2 (Bobby Shafran) was greeted as the well-known and likable Eddy Galland (Brother 1), which led to more than a little initial confusion. When the two met, what was evident to everybody else became crystal clear to them: They were separated at birth.

Shortly after seeing news coverage of the miraculous reunion, David Kellman called up Shafran and Galland with a kicker: He seemed to be Brother 3.

What followed was a blast of media coverage, including a few stops on NBC's "Today" show (including one in 1981, shortly before sharing their first birthday together), an interview on "The Phil Donahue Show" and a cameo with Madonna in the 1985 feature film "Desperately Seeking Susan."

Despite growing up in three different households, the similarities were jaw-dropping, as Kevin Fallon writes in The Daily Beast: "[T]hey shared the same exact mannerisms, even sitting the same way. They were all wrestlers, liked the same colors, had the same taste in older women, and even bought the same brand of cigarettes. Each also had an adopted sister, and all three sisters were the same age."

The story of these triplets turns sinister, though: The three, born to a single mother who gave them up for adoption, were purposely separated at birth for a "nature vs. nurture" experiment and placed in three different socioeconomic households. Over the course of their lives, they were visited by researchers, posing as adoption agency officials. But they were never told about the experiment, or each other, and the results of the study have never been made public.

"It was cruel; it was wrong," Kellman told The Washington Post early in 2018.