I realized today, apropos of nothing, that I could name five comic-book characters off the top of my head that were modeled on movie stars. Fred MacMurry was famously the inspiration for Captain Marvel, while Marvel's Fandral was based on Errol Flynn, Hogun was based on Charles Bronson, Percival Pinkerton (of the Howling Commandos) was modeled on David Niven and DIno Manelli was quite clearly Dean Martin.
Oh, wait, there's a sixth -- the Ultimate Universe Nick Fury was based on Samuel Jackson.
With the exception of Jackson (who gave his permission for his likeness to be used), I sometimes wonder if those stars were just completely unaware of their images being lifted, or simply didn't care. Or is it just too hard to prove? I remember in 1990 Butch Guice using an image of Amy Grant from the cover of one of her albums, and Grant's lawyers getting on Marvel's case for making it look like the Christian singer was endorsing Dr. Strange. (Marvel settled out of court.)
Anyway, can anyone think of any more? I sometimes see famous mugs being used in comics for non-recurring faces (especially in Greg Land books) but I'm thinking more of ongoing characters.
Richard Willis said:
How close they come to an exact likeness of actors in comics is dependent on whether or not they have the rights to their likenesses. For example, I'm pretty sure that the movie adaptation of Dr. No in Showcase #43(MAR/APR63) didn't use actor likenesses, certainly not of Sean Connery's.
However, Dr No was drawn on Bob Brown's cover to look like Joseph Wiseman. I can't speak to how he was drawn inside. The cover of Classics Illustrated (UK series) #158A, in which the adaptation also appeared, also had an image of Dr No based on Wiseman.
The James Bond newspaper strip started before the movies. After the movie series started its original artist, John McLusky (adult content elsewhere at site), altered his version of Bond into a close likeness of Connery.
I appreciated your explanation of the Commissioner Gordon/Chief O'Hara issue, Richard.
As I've written before, the monster on the cover of Tales to Astonish #7 was based on the golem played by Paul Wegener, and so was Robotman's robot antagonist in his story in Star Spangled Comics #17, which point I owe to the Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine.
The Marvel Genesis blog suggested here that the robot from Planet X in Fantastic Four #7 was based on Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still. I had never guessed that but it looks certain to me. (Come to think of it, the movie's Gort also opens his visor to zap people with a ray, like Cyclops! But it's also been suggested that Cyclops's power was inspired by the Golden Age Comet's, and I think that also very plausible.)
The first lizard story in Amazing Spider-Man #6 was obviously inspired by The Alligator People, which I haven't seen. The Lizard's face was not a close imitation of the movie's monster's - he doesn't have the same crocodile snout - but in his first close up Doc Connors doesn't have a generic Steve Ditko face, and Ditko may have based his appearance on Richard Crane, who played the man who turns into the monster. In the panel Connors has low cheekbones, a squarish face, heavy brows, a high forehead and a comparable haircut. On the other hand, he doesn't actually look like Crane to me (but I've found it hard to find images of Crane from the movie in which he's not wearing monster makeup). I'd be interested in hearing others' opinions.
Here are three writers rather than actors. Wade Halibut Jr. in Superman #274 was based on Kurt Vonnegut. Last time I mentioned this Richard Willis pointed out that the name was a play on that of Vonnegut's Kilgore Trout. Dr Ezaak in Superman #355 was based on Isaac Asimov. (The plot was apparently borrowed from Doctor X . Don't ask me why the tale didn't involve a robot instead.) Niles Pib in Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre #4 was a homage to Neil Gaiman.
In past threads we've noted that the covers of Girls' Romances #109 and Young Love #52 feature characters drawn to look like Ann-Margret. Both covers date from 1965. Possibly that there were other homages like these in the romance comics, to other stars. The character on the cover of Girls' Romances #103 could be based on an actress, but if so I don't recognise her. Likewise the woman on Falling in Love #91.
The large figure on Heart Throbs #96 reminds me of Hope Lange from the tv series The Ghost & Mrs Muir, but perhaps the resemblance is mostly in the hairstyle; I was initially going to suggest she was an evil Doris Day. The woman on Young Romance #150 reminds me of Elke Sommer, but again the resemblance might only be in the hairstyle.
The woman on the left of the Secret Hearts #101 cover is another with a non-generic face that might be a likeness I don't recognise.
Ye gods! You guys have got me playing this game, now.
The girl on the cover of Falling in Love # 91 looks pretty generic to me, as opposed to being modelled on someone. However, if there's any likeness at all, I would guess she was meant to resemble Sandra Dee. Possibly, Tuesday Weld.
On the other hand, the facial model for the blonde on the cover of Secret Hearts # 101 fairly jumped out at me the moment I saw it. Inger Stevens.
The protagonist of Alex Toth's Bravo for Adventure was modelled on Errol Flynn. Christopher Mills and Rich Burchett have modelled the star of their crime comic Gravedigger on Lee Marvin.
Luke Blanchard said:
The large figure on Heart Throbs #96 reminds me of Hope Lange from the tv series The Ghost & Mrs Muir, but perhaps the resemblance is mostly in the hairstyle; I was initially going to suggest she was an evil Doris Day.
I should have checked the dates. Heart Throbs #96 is from 1965, and the TV show started in 1968. So my identification there is unlikely.
A few more:
Steeljack in Astro City is modeled on Robert Mitchum.
And John Arcudi's The Creep is based on B-movie actor Rondo Hatton.
According to Wikipedia's page on the Star Hawks newspaper strip Gil Kane, its artist, said in a Comics Journal interview that for Rex Jaxan "originally I had James Coburn in mind" and Chavez was "modelled after a bald-headed Victor McLaglen". I wouldn't have guessed either.
There's a page here that notes a number of cameo appearances by famous people and comics creators in Fantastic Four and Avengers (along with a couple of other things). I stumbled on it checking in which issue the Thing met an unnamed John Wayne: it was Fantastic Four #196.
Fantastic Four #9 has likenesses of a number of celebrities when the FF arrive in Hollywood (I owe this point to Marvel Genesis, but its post on the issue doesn't have images of these). Gil Kane likewise drew a number of celebrity likenesses for Green Lantern #73 in a sequence where GL investigates ghost images of a hotel's past guests. According to Darkmark here there are likewise several celebrity cameos in Lois Lane #64.
They were politicians rather than actors, but the villain in Green Lantern #83 was drawn by Neal Adams to look like Spiro Agnew, and the little girl he dominates to look like Richard Nixon.
In Wonder Woman #219 (1975) Morgan Tracy assigns Diana Prince to investigate the disappearances of "Irish nationalist Bonita Doolin" and "Israeli diplomat Minna Golden". Subsequently "tennis star Betty Jo Kane" disappears too (while playing "a chauvinist hustler named Willy Wrigley"). Bonita Doolin was based on Bernadette Devlin and Betty Jo Kane on Billie Jean King (and Willy Wrigley on Bobby Riggs). I doubt artist Curt Swan was aiming for exact likenesses of Devlin and King, but Doolin and Kane have a degree of resemblance to their originals (Wrigley isn't seen close up).(1) Minna Golden was drawn, I think, as a close likeness of former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.
(1) Possibly he intended the women to more closely resemble their originals and Vince Colletta's inks didn't capture the likenesses.