George Washington Reenacted by Gary Beard

Ben Miles Reviews - Theater

Many actors have taken on the role of Founding Father George Washington – including, Francis X. Bushman in 1927’s The Flag; Barry Bostwick in 1984 and ‘86 in George Washington and George Washington: The Forging of a Nation, respectively; Jeff Daniels in The Crossing (2000); Kelsey Grammer in Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor (2003); and, David Morse in 2008’s John Adams.

Each of the above mentioned performers holds a reputation as a skillful and faceted actor. But once they’re finished with the project they leave the persona of Washington behind as they move into other characterizations. Not so with Gary Beard, a retired clergyman who’s been portraying George Washington for nearly forty-years. Beard is a re-enactor. And Washington is the sole role in his repertoire. But he knows the character inside and out.

For two decades Beard has been honing his expertise on the general and statesman, who was six-foot-two inches in height (unusually tall for a man of the 18th century). Beard does this by journeying to Washington’s Mount Vernon home annually to research his subject, attending seminars on the first U.S. president, studying archives, and other historical records and artifacts.

So specific is Beard’s portrayal of Washington that he wears a military uniform, replicated by a specific tailor, with precisely seventy-six buttons on display in honor of the year the U.S. declared its independence.  So far he’s gone through three iterations of the outfit, which is accurately adorned from the star-filled epaulets to the shinning riding boots that so enhanced Washington’s naturally impressive presence.

It’s not just the replication of the Washington look that’s makes Beard’s presentation and Q & A’s worthwhile, however. Rather it’s the scholarship, research, and commitment to character that brings Beard’s Washington to life. We learn of the Founder’s love and devotion to family. Though Washington and his first First Lady, Martha, had no children between them, Washington did serve as father and patriarch to the children (and grandchildren) Martha had from a previous marriage.

We also learn that Washington was beloved by his soldiers and achieved his military skills while serving as a major under the command of British General Edward Braddock during the French-Indian War. But it was not from the King’s army that Washington earned his tactical and strategic wisdom. Rather, it was from the Indian tribes that fought alongside the both the English and French troops. The 21-year-old Washington was able to see that the British military approach, with drums beating and soldiers in straight-lines and dressed in red uniforms, was no contest to the tribes who engaged in guerrilla-like military maneuvers. Regardless of the toll it was taking, General Braddock chose to stick with standard military tradition and would not adhere to young Washington’s advice. During the Revolutionary War Washington would incorporate the lessons he’d learned from the Native Americans to defeat the British and establish independence for the American Colonies.

For the last seventeen years Gary Beard has been doing annual presentations at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace, in Yorba Linda, California. Moreover, the 79-year-old re-enactor performs as Washington regularly for schools and at various occasions throughout the year. Beard is not only a scholar on all things Washington; he is also a lively and charismatic performer.

To book Gary Beard for an appearance, call (714) 544-6635. To contact Beard through email, use This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For further information, visit