In honor of today’s release of the film Lincoln, the folks over at Slate.com did a little research about how many times the various United States Presidents have been depicted in film. Lincoln is far and away the most popular, with some of the usual suspects (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Civil War favorite Ulysses S. Grant, and the villainous Richard Nixon) occupying other top roles.
Unfortunately, some other of our nation’s leaders have not been so lucky. To Lincoln’s 130 appearances, World War I leader Woodrow Wilson comes in at only 13…and many others fall below 10. Three presidents fail to even appear once. There are reasons for this, however. James Buchanan is widely considered to be one of our nation’s worst presidents. Warren G. Harding was, well…to be honest, I’m a student of American history and I can hardly tell you anything about the man. It is not surprising they don’t appear.
What is more interesting, I suppose, is the absence of John Tyler from cinematic depiction. While he too is winning no awards for “best in class,” a number of facts about his life would make for some dramatic viewing: he was the first VP to assume the office of President after a death, worked (unsuccessfully) to secure the annexation of Texas, narrowly survived an explosion, had a wife who died during his presidency, and around fifteen years after leaving office actually sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War.
It would be interesting, I think, to read the top biography of each president in chronological order. Some would be powerful depictions of great leaders and great times. Others would be snooze-fests. Tyler’s? Well, at least it would have a little drama.
In any case, enjoy Lincoln and the chart below: