Happy birthday, Ben Harrison

August 20, 2008
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Today marks the 175th birthday of our homegrown pres, Benjamin Harrison. The BH home at 1230 N. Delaware is celebrating with free tours today from 10-3:30.

I'm celebrating by trying to think of a list of Best Performance by an Actor as an Actual U.S. President. (Time will tell if Josh Brolin in the upcoming "W" will make the list.)

Here's what I've got for starters. Feel free to add your favorites.

--Brian Keith as Teddy Roosevelt in "The Wind and the Lion."
--James Whitmore as Harry Truman in "Give 'em Hell, Harry."
--Raymond Massey as Abraham Lincoln in "Abe Lincoln in Illinois."
--William Daniels as John Adams in "1776."
--Edward Herrmann as FDR in "Annie." (Yes, the rest of the movie was pretty bad, but Herrmann did fine.)
--Pat McCormick as Grover Cleveland in "Buffalo Bill and the Indians."

--Keene Curtis as Eisenhower in "IQ."
--Henry Fonda as Abe Lincoln in "Young Mr. Lincoln."

Care to add to the list?
  • I would like to add a TV President...Martin Sheen in West Wing, one of my favorite shows of all time because of the writing. Martin may have not looked presidential (what is he...five foot 2 or something?), but I thoroughly enjoyed watching President Bartlett's moments of humor, sharp wit and tenderness (at least until the show jumped the shark when Rob Lowe's character left and CJ became chief of staff).
  • Okay...I know he's not an Actual President...but what the heck.
  • Well, Martin Sheen did play Kennedy in a TV mini-series. (He also played Bobby Kennedy in a different project.)

    If we're getting into fictional presidents, well, then we'd have to include Kevin Kline's Dave, Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove, Harrison Ford in Air Force One...
  • Paul Giamatti (sp?) in HBO's John Adams. I would also give props to the actor that played Thomas Jefferson, though I don't know his name. Excellent mini series...
  • I nominate Ronald Reagan in Bedtime for Bonzo.

    Oh, I though this was Best Performance by an Actual U.S. President.

    Can we nominate a performance for a very thinly veiled portrayal of a fictional character who's a proxy for an actual President? If so, I'd say John Travolta's Jack Stanton in Primary Colors deserves a look. He does a pretty spot-on Bill Clinton.
  • Hah! I am loving this conversation.

    I do like the West Wing TV series. I own all of it on DVD and watch it over and over again.

    However, when I start trying to have conversations with my co-workers while powering through the halls at my day job, then I know it's time to put the West Wing DVDs away for a while.

    'Not sure who to name in answer to Lou's original question... But I have been meaning to visit the President Benjamin Harrison Home now for years. It's nice they are offering free admission today. I won't get there today, but soon....

    Hope Baugh
  • BTW, the only actor who ever portrayed Benjamin Harrison on the silver screen was Roy Gordon, in a 1952 John Philip Sousa biopic Stars and Stripes Forever.

    And Ms. Baugh: Drop by any Saturday at the Harrison House, and ask for me. The tour is on me.
  • Hey, thanks, Gary! (I am procrastinating doing my own writing on this Saturday morning by going back through Lou's posts to see if there are any new comments anywhere. I only just now saw yours.)

    Hope Baugh

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  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.