So...anyone else ever mistakenly think fictional characters were real?

Heh! Numbskulls…everyone knows that Holmes isn’t dead. He’s just 159 years old.

Almost exactly this. Except it was the 80’s and I thought he was American. The kind of guy that would guest on the Match Game or was of that era and ilk.

I get him confused with Samuel Pepys. I have no idea why.

I thought Betty Crocker was a real person.

When I read John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor, I thought that his hero, Ebeneezer Cooke, was pure fiction. Years later, I discovered there was a historical Cooke that the character was based on, and he wrote the poem that gave the book its name.

I thought That Thing You Do! was based off a real band, and that’s where the phrase “One-hit Wonders” came from.

Ironically, the guy who actually wrote the song “That Thing You Do!” for the film, Adam Schlesinger, is a bit of a one-hit wonder himself–you may recall his band Fountains of Wayne and their one mainstream hit “Stacy’s Mom”. Fountains of Wayne have made a lot of great stuff, but that seems to be all anyone remembers about them.

She had to be the only black woman with a comb over.

For a short bit of time I thought Silence Of the Lambs, and Hannibal Lecter in particular, were based on real events and real people.

I thought for the longest time Johnny Appleseed wasn’t real but then I looked him up just now and found out he WAS real. So I just did the reverse. Far out man…

Back in 1983 I read Dean Koontz’s Phantoms, in which there are passages describing all sorts of historical disappearances, including the Virginia colony disappearance, the vanishing of 6,000 soldiers in China in 1936, etc.

Fascinating stuff, especially that part about the 6,000 soldiers. Couldn’t find any reference to it back then, but I was only 15 and research took valuable time from playing that new Lode Runner game on my Apple II. So I just accepted that the disappearance happened in real life and there wasn’t much written about it. After all, the Roanoke island disappearance was real… surely he could (and did) find a few more real examples of mass disappearances in the vast sweep of human history, right?

Er… no. Bullshit all of it. I was rather disappointed (but not surprised) when I confirmed this a few years ago.

I long assumed that Horatio Alger was the poor boy who made good in the eponymous stories, rather than the author of the stories.

Certain parts of it were. One serial killer (Rodney Alcala? Ted Bundy?) used the arm-in-a-cast routine to disable his victims. Ed Guin, I think it was, used the skin from his victims to make a variety of items. Both Guin and Jeffrey Dahmer were real-life cannibals.

Truth is often more gruesome than fiction!

I’ve encountered a surprising number of people who thought that Cyrano de Bergerac was fictional.

Not to mention D’Artagnan:

I used to think Stephen Fry was real, but of course he’s not. Nobody can be that smart.

My dad thought Anne Shirley, AKA Anne of Green Gables was real. He was pretty devastated when he found out, around age 50 that she was fictional. “But we saw her house!”, he yelled.

I thought Marshal Matt Dillon was real. Until about a month or so ago. I’m almost 48. :smack:

Marlonius, could your dad have been thinking of the Hollywood actress Anne Shirley?

The Straight Dope (Staff Report): Did Sherlock Holmes really exist?

I work in a library and we frequently get people who want more information about Miss Jane Pittman.