Sunday, February 17, 2013

Presidents' Day in Pop Culture

Paul Giamatti as John Adams in HBO's mini-series
on the second president and father of the sixth
In celebration of Presidents' Day, I've decided to list every US president I've seen portrayed in a movie, TV show, or on stage and the actor who played him that I can think of. Of course, this discounts fictional presidents such as Josiah Bartlett, Art Hockstatter, or the one Patty Duke played on that short-lived sitcom from Susan Harris (Soap). I'm sure I'll leave out plenty, but here are all the ones that come to mind without doing too much research--cause this is just for fun.

George Washington--Barry Bostwick (that CBS miniseries); David Morse (John Adams on HBO)

John Adams--George Grizzard (The Adams Chronicles); William Daniels (1776); Paul Giamatti (John Adams on HBO); Brent Spiner (1776 revival from Roundabout)

Thomas Jefferson--Sam Neill (that other CBS mini-series); Ken Howard (1776); Stephan Dillane (John Adams on HBO); Nick Nolte (Thomas Jefferson in Paris)

James Madison, James Monroe--whoever played them on The Adams Chronicles

John Quincy Adams--William Daniels (The Adams Chronicles); Samuel Barnett (John Adams on HBO); Anthony Hopkins (Amistad)

Andrew Jackson--Charlton Heston (old Hollywood movie about Jackson on TCM); Benjamin Walker (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson)

Martin Van Buren--Nigel Hawthorne (Amistad)

William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce--That song from the Simpsons where the kids at Springfield Elementary put on a pageant about forgotten presidents, Lisa Simpson played one of them

James Buchanan--Ken Howard (1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Bway flop)

Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, and whoever played Lincoln
on that third-season episode of Star Trek
when they were getting really crazy ideas
Abraham Lincoln--Raymond Massey (Abe Lincoln in Illinois); Henry Fonda (Young Abe Lincoln); Hal Holbrook (Sandburg's Lincoln); Sam Waterston (Abe Lincoln in Illinois revival at Lincoln Center, Gore Vidal's Lincoln, The Civil War PBS); Jason Robards (ABC attempt to rip-off the PBS Civil War when it got a lot of ratings, so they did the same thing); Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln); Bob Stillman (A Civil War Christmas at NYTW); whoever played Lincoln on that episode of Star Trek where Kirk and Spock and some Vulcan leader fight a bunch of bad guys and a talking pile of rocks decides the outcome.

Andrew Johnson--Van Heflin (movie about Johnson which I caught a few minutes of on TCM)

Ulysses S. Grant--Donald Moffat (A Few Stout Individuals at Signature Theatre Company); Jared Harris (Lincoln); Jpe Early (Steve Allen's Meeting of Minds)

Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur--None except Ken Howard (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue)

Grover Cleveland--Pat McCormack (Buffalo Bill and the Indians)

Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley--None

Theodore Roosevelt--Len Cariou (Teddy and Alice, flop Bway musical); Brian Keith (The Wind and the Lion);

Woodrow Wilson--Alexander Knox (Wilson); Robert Vaughan (Backstairs at the White House)

William Howard Taft--Victor Buono (Backstairs at the White House)

Warren G. Harding--George Kennedy (Backstairs at the White House)

Calvin Cooolidge--Ed Flanders (Backstairs at the White House)

Herbert Hoover--Larry Gates (Backstairs at the White House)

Franklin Roosevelt--Edward Hermann (Eleanor and Franklin, Annie movie); Merwin Foard (Annie revival); Bill Murray (Hyde Park on Hudson); Jason Robards (FDR: The Last Year); Ralph Bellamy (Sunrise at Campobello); Kenneth Branagh (Warm Springs)

Harry S. Truman--James Whitmore (Give em Hell, Harry); Gary Sinise (Truman); Harry Morgan (Backstairs at the White House); Ed Flanders (Plain Speaking)

Dwight Eisenhower--Andrew Duggan (Backstairs at the White House); Robert Duvall (that TV movie about WWII and Ike's affair with the woman played by Lee Remick)

John F. Kennedy--William Devane (The Missiles of October); Martin Sheen (the TV mini-series); Kevin Costner (Thirteen Days)

Lyndon Johnson--Michael Gambon (HBO movie about Vietnam); Randy Quaid (TV miniseries); Pat Buttram (the guy from Green Acres who did a lot of LBJ impressions)

Richard Nixon--Anthony Hopkins (Nixon); George S. Irving (lots of TV impressions, An Evening with Richard Nixon on Bway); David Frye and Rich Little (lots of TV impressions); Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon on Broadway and film); Dan Akroyd (Sat. Night Live)

Gerald Ford--Chevy Chase (Sat. Night Live); whoever played Ford in that one Pink Panther movie, whoever played Ford in the musical Assassins (it was Will Parry in the original, I don't remember who did it in the revival)

Jimmy Carter--Dan Akroyd (Sat. Night Live)

Ronald Reagan--James Brolin (that cable TV movie every Repub. was so offended by with Judy David that they cancelled and put on another network)

George HW Bush--Dana Carvey (Sat. Night Live)

Bill Clinton--I stopped watching Sat. Night Live at this point so I don't know the name of the guy who did Clinton and I don't feel like looking it up.

George W. Bush--Josh Brolin (W); Jay O. Sanders (Stuff Happens); Will Farrell (You're Welcome America, An Evening with George W. Bush)

Barack Obama--Fred Amisen (Sat. Night Live); I just know this because I've seen him on Portlandia and I read he did Obama on SNL.

Happy President's Day.


  1. David, here's some others:

    Washington Jeff Daniels “The Crossing” 2000 tv film

    Lincoln Walter Huston “Abraham Lincoln” 1930

    "Thirteen Days," Bruce Greenwood played JFK. Costner played Kenneth O’Donnell

    Donald Moffat Lyndon Johnson "The Right Stuff"

    Dan Hedaya Nixon in “Dick” comedy starring Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams

    Beau Bridges Nixon 1995 tv film “Kissinger and Nixon”

    James Cromwell, GHW Bush in “W.”