“The Great Imposter and Me” Tells story of Detroit local legend Barry Bremen
The legend of Barry Bremen, known to the public as “The Great Imposter” began in 1979. Specifically, at the NBA All Star Game in Pontiac, Michigan. In a bet with his friends that he could not only make it on the court, but shoot in the layup line, Bremen became a cultural phenomenon. In fact, afer pulling off the public stunt, Barry eventually appeared on The Tonight Show W/ Johnny Carson, among many other late night shows. He was a star.
And after his first stunt, Bremen decided to make as many memories as he could. Barry would pull the imposter stunt at events ranging from the MLB All Star Game, to the Super Bowl. And each event, it was a matter of when Bremen was going to appear. His most controversial public stunt, accepting the award for actress Betty Thomas for “Best Supporting Actress” at the 1985 Emmy Awards. Thomas was there to accept the award.
Although being “The Great Imposter” was his public persona, Barry Bremen was just an Insurance Salesmen in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He had a wife and three children. And in 2011, at the age of 64, he passed away after battling with esophageal cancer on his birthday. If this was the end of the story, Bremen left behind a legacy of being a prominent figure known for his many stunts. To those that watched him, he brought many laughs. And to those around him, he was known as a loving and caring family man.
Barry Bremen’s Story revealed to the world in ESPN Documentary
If that was the end of Barry Bremen’s story, it would be quite remarkable. However, it was merely the tip of the iceberg. In ESPN’s latest documentary “The Great Imposter and Me”, Barry’s biggest life secret is revealed. Throughout his adult life, Bremen was a sperm donor with the support of his wife Margo. As it turns out, Barry Bremen has 35 biological children. 3 of those children he raised with Margo, 32 of them as a donor. According to Margo, Barry Bremen loved being a father, and wanted to help those who struggled with infertility. In addition, Bremen was able to make some good money for his donations. But when asked if he would like his identity known to the children, his answer was no.
So how was this discovered? How did, after all these years, the Bremen family learn this discovery, years after Barry’s death? It all started with the popular service 23 and me. Some of the biological children had discovered each other through the service, and even made a Facebook group. One of the people who had joined the group was obsessed with Genealogy, and worked with experts in the field to nail down the father to Barry Bremen. When the people in the group made this discovery, they decided to write letters to the Bremen family.
Bremen’s legacy has a new meaning – one far greater than his stunts
At first, the Bremen family was shocked. To learn that Barry Bremen had biological children, and that there were so many, was overwhelming. Which this is all before factoring the next question the Bremen’s had: what exactly do these people want? All they wanted, was answers abot who their father was. Margo eventually reached out to one of the children from the group, and offered to answer any questions that they had. This text message sparked an unexpected bond between Barry’s family and his biological children. One of the final scenes documented in the film, is a family union, where they all meet for the first time. What the Bremen’s ultimately recognized, was that it represented their loving father. And through that, Barry Bremen lives on.
One other aspect of this story, is the ethics in reproductive medicine that this raises question. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, only 40% as result of donors in the United States are reported. And in many cases with these children, their families are given information about the donor that is simply not true. In the United States, the legal limit of a donor is to 25 family units. According to the documentary, there could be as many as 60 biological children of Barry Bremen.
Despite the ethical questions that come to the surface, this documentary tells the story of a man who lived a full life. One that was focused on his children, but also on his love of sports. Also, his love of fame. But deep in its core, the Berman story always will tie back to his family. The family he raised in the Detroit area, and the family he never knew. And now, the new family that has sprouted. All of which could not have been possible without Barry Berman.