Since his presidency, Lincoln has been resurrected on stage and the silver screen. The actors who portrayed Lincoln in these historical dramas often found themselves typecast in the role, their identify forever linked to the famous president. Lincoln still appears on stage and screen, but today it's more common to find Lincoln speaking to students in the classroom, posing for photo opportunities at private parties, or waving to crowds from a parade float.
Portraying the President:
Lincoln portrayals have taken many forms throughout history. While most portrayers pay homage to President Lincoln, there are plenty of people who have impersonated the 16th President to make a political statement or simply to inspire laughter.
Lincoln's Familiar Face:
Lincoln understood the political importance in popular government of being a familiar face. He took advantage of photography and agreed to sit for two life masks in his lifetime. The wide circulation of his image and trademark features such as his beard, mole, and stovepipe hat, have made it relatively easy for people to portray Lincoln with minimal costume.
Lincoln in Mind, Body, & Spirit:
While personal features and props can make you look like Lincoln, how much can you be like Lincoln? People who portray Lincoln go to varying lengths to understand the man or live by his example. But no matter how immersed one become sin the life of Lincoln, the portrayal is always influenced by the perspective of the portrayer and his audience.
All in the Family:
In life, Lincoln was surrounded by family and colleagues. When Lincoln is portrayed today, he's often accompanied by people who portray those who knew him well. There are even husband-and-wife teams that travel all over the country portraying Abraham and Mary Lincoln, or father-and-son teams that re-enact stories about President Lincoln and his youngest son, Tad.
The Power of Words:
Lincoln's story transcends the American experience, while the meaning of his words transcends language. Perhaps Lincoln's most famous, succinct, and memorable speech is the Gettysburg Address, making it a popular choice in any context.
Lincoln's Lasting Imprint:
The number of people who have taken on the role of Lincoln has grown over the past century, even prompting the formation of an official association. While they may all portray the same man, their inspirations for taking on the role range from simply being told they "look like Lincoln," to an abiding curiosity of an incredibly complex figure in our nation's history.