Saturday, January 31, 2009

lincoln, douglas, and the rivalry

I just posted a blog item at suite101 about the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency's 2009 calendar honoring what would have been Abraham Lincoln's Bicentennial birthday this February 12th. The calendar features 12 distinctive portraits of Lincoln by 12 different artists, and can be purchased for just $7. The portrait for February from the calendar pictured here was done by William Camm and was apparently reproduced and used as a banner for the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates.

The 1858 debates themselves were the focus of The Rivalry, a play by Norman Corwin restaged this past fall at the L.A. Theatre Works. Paul Giamatti who put such great energy into HBO's John Adams starred as Stephen Douglas, while David Strathairn played a Lincoln probably more classically handsome than the original, but then again he's managed to transform himself into all kinds of men -- Murrow, Oppenheimer, Kefauver -- so why not Abe. I liked this quote about Douglas and Lincoln size-wise by Giamatti in an NPR interview: "These two guys, they were physical freaks...Douglas was 5'4" and Lincoln was like 8 feet tall, and they both weighed like 90 pounds!"

Click here to read the full NPR interview and to hear an audio-clip from the play itself.

{1860 Portrait of Lincoln by William Camm from the
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency's 2009 Lincoln Calendar}