NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It takes a special kind of narcissist to want to be Gordon Gekko, but a stable of criminal misanthropes to inspire the Wall Street character's existence.
Friday's release of that film's 23-years-overdue sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, reacquaints America with Gekko, one of its most famous modern caricatures -- the archetypal cutthroat corporate raider and embodiment of 1980s excess. Director Oliver Stone assembled Gekko from elements of his own personality and those of of Creative Artists Agency founder and former Disney (DIS) exec Michael Ovitz, former corporate raider and current art patron Asher Edelman and investor/financier Carl Icahn. Yet none of those people spent a day in prison, never mind the more than two decades Gekko spends in the clink for insider trading between the first film and the sequel.
Stone needed a criminal mind for his Frankenstein monster, and the '80s were replete with them. Between Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky and Dennis Levine, just to name a few, Stone found just the right mix of miscreant muses to ensure Gekko's rise would end in a prison term. Michael Douglas' Gekko may have emulated those characters a bit too well, as Wall Street screenwriter Stanley Wieser told the Los Angeles Times two years ago that he's still approached by people who tell him the movie changed their lives and made them want to get into investment -- just to be like Gekko. During a "making of" segment on the Wall Street 20th anniversary DVD, Douglas and his Wall Street co-star Charlie Sheen said similarly misguided individual have relayed the same sentiments to them since the first film's release.
For those still unfamiliar with Gekko's story, TheStreet has put together a list of notorious Wall Street ne'er-do-wells that either inspired or drew inspiration from Douglas' slick-coiffed corporate criminal:
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