Twins switched at birth

There was a 1970 comedy called Start the Revolution Without Me. It took place during the period prior to the French revolution and begins with two very pregnant women, one a rich noblewoman and the other a poor peasant, who take shelter in a rural inn during a storm. They both deliver identical male twins but the local doctor who does the deliveries was either drunk or just otherwise doddering (I forget now) and mixes up the twins.

Fast forward about thirty years and we have one set of adult ‘twins’, assumed to be fraternal since they don’t look anything like each other, who are the aristocratic, rich, haughty, devious, and cruel pair known as the Corsican brothers who are scheming to gain the throne of France, and the other pair are a poor and somewhat dim pair of hustlers. Each pair of ‘twins’ was played by Donald Sutherland and Gene Wilder, who could not be more unlike each other in looks, and confusion reigns when the paths of both twins cross during the tumult of the revolution.

The film’s premise was preposterous but made for good laughs and you can see the trailer.

But preposterous as it may seem, it turns out that such a mix-up actually occurred in real life in Bogota, Colombia and was discovered just recently. The story of the real mix-up and how the truth came out is pretty engrossing.

While for us on the outside this kind of mix-up is a curiosity and in the film was played for laughs, one can only imagine how traumatic it must have been for the real life pairs of twins to discover that the twin they had grown up with was not their biological sibling and for one of them to realize that he had an entire extended biological family that he had been unaware of and must now accommodate into his life.

This article describes how these two pairs of twins handled the discovery and how researchers have studied them to try and tease out some information relating to the age-old question of the relative influence of nature versus nurture on our traits.


  1. NitricAcid says

    “Big Business” with Bette Midler and Lily Tomlinson had a similar premise.

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