Thursday, November 12, 2009


For the second week in November, as we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the TV Crossover Hall Of Fame, the focus is on historical figures as seen on TV, as it has been all year during the second week of the month. And since traditionally we feature politicians and newsmakers during November, we're inducting an American President who was featured in Toobworld last year.....

Adams was prominently portrayed most recently by Paul Giamatti in the HBO mini-series based on the biography by David McCullough. But back in the 1970s, George Grizzard put his stamp on the role in the opening episodes of the PBS mini-series 'The Adams Chronicles'.

Paul Giamatti as Adams

George Grizzard as Adams

Here's a rundown of other actors who have portrayed John Adams on television:

John D. Bert
. . . Mysteries of the Freemasons (2006)

John Boruff
. . . "Hallmark Hall of Fame" (1951)
{A Woman for the Ages (#1.20)}

Keith Charles
. . . "Simon & Simon" (1981)
{The Apple Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree (#5.24)}

Paul Collins
. . . George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation (1986)

Whitfield Connor
. . . "Cavalcade of America" (1952)
{John Yankee (#1.19)}

William Daniels
. . . The American Revolution (1994)

. . . The Rebels (1979)

Peter Donaldson
. . . "Benjamin Franklin" (2002)

. . . "Liberty! The American Revolution" (1997)

Paul Giamatti
. . . "John Adams" (2008)

George Grizzard
. . . "The Adams Chronicles" (1976)

Hal Holbrook
. . . "George Washington" (1984)

Steve Holloway
. . . Founders or Traitors? (2007)

Frank Langella
. . . The American Woman: Portraits of Courage (1976)

David McCallum
. . . "Profiles in Courage" (1964)
{John Adams (#1.7)}

Laurence Naismith
. . . "Profiles in Courage" (1964)
{John Quincy Adams (#1.22)}

Glenn C. Reimer
. . . "The Revolution" (2006)

Simon Russell Beale
. . . "The American Experience" (1988)
{John & Abigail Adams (#18.5)}

Morley Safer
. . . "The American President" (2000)
{An Independent Cast of Minds (#1.3)}

Martin Sheen
. . . "Freedom: A History of Us" (2003)
{Independence (#1.1)}

Henry Strozier
. . . "The American Experience" (1988)
{Alexander Hamilton (#19.15)}

Torin Thatcher
. . . "Daniel Boone" (1964)
{Take the Southbound Stage (#3.27)}

Howard Wendell
. . . "You Are There" (1953)
{Washington Crosses the Delaware (December 25, 1776) (#4.15)}

James Woods
. . . "Founding Fathers" (2000)
. . . Founding Brothers (2002) (TV)

Billy Crystal
. . . "Liberty's Kids: Est. 1776" (2002)

Maurice LaMarche
. . . "Animaniacs" (1993)
{The Presidents/Don't Tread on Us/The Flame Returns (#3.6)}

Chris Elliott
. . . "Late Show with David Letterman" (1993)

William Shatner
. . . Swing Out, Sweet Land (1970)

Ben Piazza

. . . "Family Ties" (1982)
{Philadelphia Story (#3.15)}

A few notes.....
Many of these portrayals were voice-overs in Ken Burns-styled documentaries.

There are enough portrayals of John Adams in mini-series and TV movies to be spread out among other TV dimensions, as Toobworld Central has designated for other historical figures like Kennedy, Lincoln, and Marilyn Monroe.

In whatever TV dimension that gets the story of George Washington (as played by Barry Bostwick), the character of John Adams becomes a recastaway - in the first production, he was played by Hal Holbrook and in the second, he was played by Paul Collins. The simplest splainin to get out of this is that even though most of the characters were played by the same actors as in the first mini-series, 'George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation' takes place in an alternate dimension in which the DNA for John Adams was different.

William Daniels is probably the best known John Adams from the movie universe, recreating the role he originated in the Broadway production of '1776'. However, he also got the chance to play the role twice on television. I may be wrong on this (it's not uncommon), but I believe his performance in "The American Revolution" was as a voice-over. Still, the TV movie "The Rebels" completes the multi-verse position for John Adams as played by William Daniels.

So a tip of the tri-corner hat to John Adams, Founding Father and the latest inductee into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame! Not many others can claim that; the Pigeon Sisters, Gwendolyn and Cecily, come to mind....


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