Irish actor Daniel Day-Lewis plays the 16th president in Steven Spielberg’s biographical war drama “Lincoln,” released this month. The film already is generating Oscar speculation. Liam Neeson originally was booked for the role. The List this week looks at other actors who have played Abraham Lincoln over the years.
- 16. Benjamin Walker —Mr. Walker plays Lincoln in Tim Burton’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (2012). The film was savaged by critics and bombed at the box office.
- 15. Brendan Fraser — In the 2000 comedy film “Bedazzled,” Mr. Fraser plays Elliot Richards, who asks Satan to make him president of the United States. Unfortunately, the devil turns Mr. Fraser into Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on the night of his assassination.
- 14. Dennis Weaver — The “Gunsmoke” star plays the 16th president abandoning his inaugural tour to visit a little girl who wrote urging him to grow a beard in the TV movie “The Great Man’s Whiskers,” (1972).
- 13. Royal Dano — Dano was the voice of Abraham Lincoln for Walt Disney’s “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln” program, first presented at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. Disney personally selected Dano because he thought the actor’s voice came closest to the historical descriptions of Lincoln’s voice. Dano’s vocals continued to be part of the program until 2001. In 2009, Dano’s vocals were returned to “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln” at Disneyland in a revised version of the show.
- 12. Kris Kristofferson — It’s hard to imagine the 1970s folk-singer-actor playing the Civil War president, but the then 58-year-old Mr. Kristofferson pulled it off in the Family Channel’s movie “Tad” (1995). The film revolved around family life in the White House and on Tad, the Lincolns’ 7-year-old son.
- 11. Joseph Henabery — Though Henabery was significantly shorter than Lincoln, his impersonation of the 16th president in the silent classic “The Birth of a Nation” (1915) was a masterpiece of facial makeup.
- 10. Jason Robards — Robards played Lincoln in the TV movie “The Perfect Tribute” (1991) and supplied the voice for two television documentaries, first for “The Presidency: A Splendid Misery” in 1964 and then again in the title role of the 1992 documentary miniseries “Lincoln.” In other films, he played Ulysses S. Grant and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
- 9. Gregory Peck — Peck, who was tall like Lincoln, played the 6-foot-4 president in the “The Blue and the Gray” CBS television series in 1982.
- 8. Gerald Bestrom — In 1986, a man noticed Mr. Bestrom’s resemblance to Lincoln without a beard and said, “You look like Lincoln!” Mr. Bestrom grew a beard and later became a full-time impersonator. He appeared in Robert Redford’s 2010 “The Conspirator,” a film about Mary Surratt, the only woman charged as a co-conspirator in the Lincoln assassination trial.
- 7. Hal Holbrook — Mr. Holbrook was excellent as a homely Lincoln in the six-hour miniseries “Lincoln” in 1974 and won an Emmy for the role. He reprised the role in the “North and South,” TV series in 1985 and the sequel in 1986. He also appears in the 2012 “Lincoln” as the journalist and politician Francis Preston Blair.
- 6. Sam Waterston — The classically trained Mr. Waterston played Lincoln in “Gore Vidal’s Lincoln” (1988). This American television series also saw Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Todd Lincoln. Mr. Waterston also was the voice of Lincoln in Ken Burns’ landmark documentary of the Civil War.
- 5. Frank McGlynn Sr. — The uncannily Lincolnesque American actor was famous for playing Lincoln on the stage and in numerous films. He played the president in the 1935 Shirley Temple film “The Littlest Rebel,” 1938’s “The Lone Ranger” and seven other films, including “The Plainsman” in 1936.
- 4. John Anderson — Standing taller than 6-foot-5, Anderson bore a strong resemblance to Lincoln and portrayed the president a number of times, including in “The Lincoln Conspiracy,” a 1977 film that dramatized conspiracy theories concerning Lincoln’s assassination. Anderson was best known for his recurring role in “MacGyver” as Harry Jackson, MacGyver’s grandfather.
- 3. Walter Huston —Huston was a dead ringer for the Great Emancipator in D.W. Griffith’s first sound film, “Abraham Lincoln” (1930). But Huston failed to give his Lincoln gravitas or wit, and the film bombed.
- 2. Henry Fonda —Fonda was excellent playing a tragic, searching Lincoln in the classic John Ford film “Young Mr. Lincoln” (1939). Fonda played a folksy Lincoln in the president’s earlier days as a jackleg lawyer in Springfield, Ill. Fonda first turned down the role, but Ford changed his mind.
- 1. Raymond Massey — The best depiction of Lincoln as the compassionate politician was performed by Massey in “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” (1940). He also played Lincoln in 1962’s “How the West Was Won” and in a number of TV shows, including “The Day Lincoln Was Shot,” a 1956 episode of the “Ford Star Jubilee,” featuring Jack Lemmon as John Wilkes Booth.
Compiled by John Haydon
Source: IMDb, The Associated Press and Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.