Rain Man's protagonist played by Dustin Hoffman came after Kim Peek, a 'mega savant' whose memory was so strong he could recall the contents of over 12,000 books.
Psycho's Norman Bates came after serial killer Ed Gein, who killed several young women and exhumed the corpses of many more in the quest to make a skin suit resembling his dead mother.
The Big Lebowski. The Dude is based on Jeff Dowd, a one-time anti-Vietnam activist who had grown increasingly disreputable - and increasingly fond of White Russians.
Rocky Balboa - Stallone wrote the screenplay after seeing no-hope bruiser Chuck Wepner last until the 15th round in a fight with Muhammad Ali.
Indiana Jones is inspired by Hiram Bingham III, the academic and adventurer who rediscovered Machu Piccu in 1911.
Sherlock Holmes' father Arthur Conan Doyle was once a clerk to a medical lecturer called Joseph Bell, who taught forensic science by deducing information about random strangers.
Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle's dreaming of washing the scum off the street was based on the case of Arthur Bremer, who shot Presidential candidate George Wallace in 1972.
Sally Bowles as played by Liza Minnelli in Cabaret was created by Christopher Isherwood in homage to Jean Ross, an acquaintance of the author when he lived in Berlin during the early 1930s.
The Citizen Charles Foster Kane is based on the controversial publisher William Randolph Hearst as Orson Welles reluctantly admitted.
Tom Hanks' hero in The Terminal is the real story of Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri, who lost his paper in transit to Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris and lived there from 1988 to 2006.
Dorian Gray aka the poet John Gray was believed to be Oscar Wilde's lover, sent by the author to immortality.
On The Road's charismatic rebel, Dean Moriarty was based on the author Jack Kerouac's friend, writer Neal Cassady.
Dirk Diggler, played by Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights was modeled by John Holmes, who similarly made his name on the size of his member.
Alice in Wonderland was named after Alice Liddell, a family friend of Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) for whom the story was written.
Lolita - the novel's author, Vladimir Nabokov, based Lolita on Florence Horner, an 11-year-old girl kidnapped by a paedophile in 1948.
Zorro was given life by Joaquin Murrieta, a Mexican bandit who got rich after attacking well-stocked wagon trains during the Californian Gold Rush.