She is not the violet-eyed superstar. But Bea Arthur, Henny Youngman, Mike Nichols and Tony Bennett all have mistaken Jackie Frank, a full-figured housewife from Queens, N.Y., for the legendary Elizabeth Taylor. Last year, when Jackie dined at the New York Playboy Club, the bunnies begged for her signature. On another occasion Taylor’s friend Grace Robbins (wife of writer Harold) saw Jackie in a restaurant and exclaimed, “Elizabeth, I thought you were on the farm this week.”
With celebrities confused about her, how does the general public react? “They mob me,” laughs Jackie. In Manhattan this month, she created pandemonium while strolling down Fifth Avenue. Screeching girls demanded autographs, which she never gives. A well-dressed man was overheard exclaiming, “Elizabeth Taylor, the woman of my dreams.” Another commented: “She looks great. She must have lost 50 pounds.”
While shopping at Bloomingdale’s with her children (daughter Jamie, 21, and son Jeffrey, 29), Jackie recalls having “to scoot out of the back to escape the crowds. People went bananas.” But she relishes the attention. In 1973 she won a Liz look-alike contest and now makes $5,000 a year in the role. She has appeared on Candid Camera and All My Children and caused a stir by turning up in the audience at the Tony Awards.
“As far back as I can remember, I’ve been told that I look like Elizabeth,” says Jackie. At 5’2″, she is two inches shorter, but both woman have ample busts and small waists. Jackie is 49, Liz 47. Jackie even has a mole (“which I accentuate”) on the right side of her face. Her hazel green eyes haven’t been a problem—she corrects them with violet contact lenses. And she notes, “If I wanted to I could talk British,” like her idol.
Jackie has never met Liz, but in 1960, when Jackie’s first husband, the late record promoter Eddie Deutsch, was having a business meeting with Eddie Fisher, the women smiled at each other across a lobby. Two years ago Jackie made a bolder approach. She phoned Taylor to tell her she was “having a ball” as her double. Liz’ advice: ” ‘If it gets too horrendous, throw on a wig.’ ” Fans may pull at her hair, but Jackie wouldn’t miss a minute of it. “I feel I’m Elizabeth even while I’m doing the dishes.”
Second husband Bernard Frank, a textile executive, is enthralled by Jackie’s act. “Clients who see her picture in my office want to know why I’m hung up on Liz,” he says.
Although Jackie fools a lot of people, she cheerfully admits there’s always a moment of reckoning—”That’s when I come home and see that my husband isn’t John Warner or Richard Burton.”