Triplet Brothers Separated At Birth

Separated at Birth: Triplets' Unbelievable Tale

The new documentary "Three Identical Strangers" explores the dark, devastating side of a 1980s tabloid story.

On his first day of community college in 1980, 19-year-old Robert Shafran kept being mistaken for another man named Eddy Galland. When the two finally met in person, they began a fascinating odyssey that's explored in the new documentary "Three Identical Strangers," opening in limited release this Friday (June 29). Robert and Eddy, who were both adopted as infants, quickly discovered that they were brothers. And once a newspaper picked up on their remarkable story, they got another bombshell when a man named David Kellman reached out: The long-lost identical twins were actually long-lost identical triplets. (Above: The reunited brothers in 1981.)

THREE OF A KIND New York Daily News Archive/NY Daily News via Getty Images THREE OF A KIND The triplets learned that they were split up at birth and adopted through the same agency in New York. They became a media sensation, making memorable TV appearances like one on "Phil Donahue" where they showed off their uncanny similarities. They even made a cameo in "Desperately Seeking Susan," briefly ogling Madonna. NIGHT LIFE New York Post Archives/The New York Post via Getty Images NIGHT LIFE Their heartwarming story had a dark side, though: As the men researched their shared and separate histories, they discovered that the adoption agency they came from had participated in a psychological study about nature vs. nurture. They and other identical sets of siblings were deliberately separated and the adoptive families were kept in the dark about their children's backgrounds. (Above: David Kellman and Eddy Galland with two unidentified women at a Manhattan nightclub.)

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BLENDED FAMILIES New York Daily News Archive/NY Daily News via Getty Images BLENDED FAMILIES (From left) Robert Shafran, David Kellman, and Eddy Galland with Sandi Kellman, David's adopted sister; Joel Shafran, Robert's adopted brother; and Barbara Galland, Eddy's adopted sister. The brothers' families seemed strangely orchestrated, with one being placed in a working-class home, one in a middle-class home, and one with an upper-class family. As part of an agreement for the adoptions, the families would let researchers visit annually to run tests. ON THE TOWN New York Post Archives/The New York Post via Getty Images ON THE TOWN David Kellman and Eddy Galland on a dance floor in 1980. The brothers became fixtures in early '80s Manhattan night life and eventually opened a restaurant together. BROTHERLY LOVE ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images BROTHERLY LOVE Robert Shafran and David Kellman at the Sundance Film Festival premiere of "Three Identical Strangers" in January. The documentary explores the heartbreak and anguish that came in the wake of the brothers' reunion, and the mysteries that still remain about their past. PREMIERE NIGHT ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images PREMIERE NIGHT Kellman and Shafran with director Tim Wardle. "The boys' story takes unbelievable twists and turns, and it's very hard to talk about the film in any way without giving those away," said Wardle in an interview from January. Watch the movie's trailer here.

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