Part of what makes Lincoln so fascinating are his various contradictions. He was a religious doubter who became devout in the crucible of the Civil War; he was a man of action who suffered from painful and sometimes debilitating depression; he was a failure who became our president during the nation's greatest crisis and led us through it. Above all, he was a humble man who still harbored burning ambition -- no man rises to the presidency without it. (Not even Gerald Ford.)
Because of his stature in our history, as well as his actual stature (still our tallest president, still the guy with a beard but no 'stache), and his famous stovepipe hat, he is the easiest president to depict. Look, here's a Lincoln now:
422 portrayals of Lincoln, not counting stage, video games, or automobile advertisements. For contrast, there are only 233 Hamlets. Henry Fonda, Hans Conried, Dennis Weaver, Hal Holbrook, Gregory Peck, Jason Robards, Tom Hanks, Sam Waterston, Raymond Massey, and Daniel Day-Lewis all played Lincoln. Some actors, like Frank McGlynn Sr., basically made a career of it.
|Massey in Abe Lincoln in Illinois|
|And then there's Gottfried.|
A tip of the stovepipe to you, Mr. Lincoln; thank you for all you did for our nation.