Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Lincoln impersonator performs for exhibit

Lincoln impersonator performs for exhibit

Feb. 27, 2014

By Alexandria Zamecnik


After two years of applying for grants, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater was finally able to receive the funding it needed to host “Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War,” a traveling exhibit to honor the 16th president.

Kim Adams, assistant director at Roberta’s Art Gallery, said that she was approached by Ben Strand, the former assistant director at Young Auditorium, to bring the exhibit to UW-Whitewater.

“It’s been a work in progress for about two years,” Adams said. “This will be the longest exhibit that has ever run in Roberta’s Art Gallery. We’re excited about it.”

Only eight exhibitions are running throughout the country. The exhibit will stay at UW-Whitewater until March 21.To celebrate the kick-off of the exhibition made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for Humanities, the University Center and Young Auditorium hired Abraham Lincoln impersonator, Fritz Klein.

Klein, former landscaper, began impersonating Abraham Lincoln in 1976. He was originally cast only in a small production in Hawaii, but it turned out so well, that he was asked to do encores.By about 1980, Klein had so many requests to become Abe Lincoln that it just took off. He began his national tour.

“I never though I looked like Lincoln and then when I realized the iconic power and the demand, it just carried me away,” Klein said. “After all of these years, I still enjoy it, because of the iconic power of this man.”

The preparation to become Lincoln wasn’t easy. Klein spent the first five years doing research of Lincoln himself. He also takes time to get into costume.

Klein said when he began studying Lincoln’s voice he had a very nasally voice. When Klein performs he moderates his voice to make his audience comfortable.

“In the beginning, the makeup was gone by a professional, and it was a four hour makeup job” Klein said. “When I was young and in my 20’s and I had to look 50 it would take me four hours by myself. Now it takes me about one, include getting dressed.”

Klein dedicates about half of his time to traveling. However, he lives in Springfield, Illinois also known as the home of Abraham Lincoln. Klein does a large majority of his impersonations there at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

Klein’s performed a reenactment in Summers Auditorium on Feb. 19. His performance was based entirely upon actual quotes from Abraham Lincoln.

During his performance, Klein said that he would not speak of politics to the audience because the more he takes a position, the more the opposition says he meant something quite different.

“I resolved ever before I left Washington City that I wouldn’t engage in political jokes, so I’d rather take a different track,” Klein/Lincoln said. “Sometimes political jokes get elected.”

Klein goes on his performance to quote the stance that Abraham Lincoln took on slavery. Lincoln was the 3rd president ever elected to publicly denounce slavery.

“In the right to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I believe they established a universal principle,” Klein/Lincoln said.

Klein said the only thing that wasn’t authentic about Klein’s impersonation was how he began his performance. Abraham Lincoln was not an animated speaker not in the speech setting, but only when he told stories.

“You just have to find a happy medium,” Klein said.

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Founded 1901
Lincoln impersonator performs for exhibit