Abe Lincoln look-alike is headliner in Tallulah

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 28, 2009

Abraham Lincoln will attend an Independence Day celebration in Tallulah — or at least a strong likeness of him will.

The Madison Historical Society, Hermione Museum, International Lincoln Center of Shreveport, City of Tallulah and others are bringing Richard Fritz Klein to town July 9 to celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of the nation’s 16th president.

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Independence Day activities in Tallulah will feature Abraham Lincoln impersonator Richard Fritz Klein. He will speak at 2 p.m. July 9 at the Hermione Museum, 315 N. Mulberry St. At 7 that evening, Klein will give a dinner presentation at the Tallulah Community Center at Beal and Neal streets. Tickets are $20 and must be purchased by Saturday. Call 318-574-0082 during business hours and 318-341-1937 after hours.

Klein is from Springfield, Ill., where Lincoln lived for a time and is buried, and has portrayed the president on stage and in films and television.

“The man is in such high demand,” said Geneva Williams, curator for the Hermione Museum in Tallulah. “He rides all over the country doing these impersonations.”

Instead of celebrating Saturday, which is the official July 4 holiday, Tallulah will mark Independence Day on July 9. Klein’s schedule would not allow a Saturday appearance.

At 2 p.m., Klein will arrive at the Hermione Museum and will be introduced by Dr. William D. Pederson, director of the International Lincoln Center of Shreveport. He also serves on Louisiana’s Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, created to mark the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, and is a consultant to the museum.

“He (Klein) is going to be escorted by police to the museum from his hotel and, while the local band is playing ‘Hail to the Chief,’ he’s going to go to the front porch of the museum where he’ll give a speech,” said Williams.

Later that day, at 7, Klein will portray Lincoln in a dinner presentation at the Tallulah Community Center ot Beal and Neal streets in Tallulah. Louisiana Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell, who resides in Tallulah, will be the master of ceremonies.

He (Klein) will “switch in and out of character, give a speech as Lincoln and then talk about what it’s like to play Lincoln,” said Williams.

Tickets for the dinner are $20 and must be purchased by Saturday.

Lincoln was born on Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Ky. He served as president from March 1861 to April 1865, when he was assassinated — the first American president to die in that manner. Lincoln was president during the Civil War and, before being elected, had been a lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and twice an unsuccessful candidate for election to the U.S. Senate.

Lincoln had ties to the Vicksburg area via his wife. Some of Mary Todd Lincoln’s kin, the family of Dr. James Parker, lived in Port Gibson. Parker was her mother’s brother and was married to Mary Jane Milliken from Milliken’s Bend in Madison Parish, where Tallulah is located.


Contact Matthew Breazeale at mbreazeale@vicksburgpost.com