Monday, February 16, 2009 Section D OrlandoSentinel.com
He easily fills a tall order
Abraham Lincoln (as portrayed by Orlando actor George Smith) visited the Presidents Hall of Fame in Clermont last week in honor of the Great Emancipator's 200th birthday. Lincoln's birthday (Feb. 12) will be observed officially today, Presidents Day, which also marks George Washington's birthday (Feb. 22).
The museum, displaying presidential collectibles of owners John and Jan Zweite!, has a major Lincoln exhibit to commemorate the Lincoln bicentennial celebration. The exhibit includes an authentic death mask and a chair from Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. — where the 16th president was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865 — as well as miniature replicas of Lincoln's 1864 office and the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House, including a full-scale replica of the Lincoln bed.
Smith, at 69, is 13 years older than Lincoln was at death, but Smith has no trouble pulling off a late-in-life Lincoln. He is about Lincoln's height, 6 feet 4 inches, and has a similar build. Smith has been portraying Honest Abe since 1977, chalking up more than 750 presentations — at schools, festivals, parades, etc. — in five states and England.
He's a hit wherever he goes in the U.S.: "I get well-received [in the] North, South — it doesn't really make a difference. They really look to him [Lincoln] as a tremendous man."
The Presidents Hall of Fame is at 123 N. U.S. Highway 27. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, call 352-394-2836 or visit thepresidentshalloffame.com . — SENTINEL STAFF