American Presidents: Life Portraits is a 41-episode, Peabody Award-winning series produced by C-SPAN in 1999. Each episode was aired live, and was a two- to three-hour look at the life and times of one particular President of the United States. Episodes were broadcast from locations of importance to the profiled president, featured interviews with historians and other experts, and incorporated calls from viewers. The series served as a commemoration of C-SPAN's 20th anniversary.
The first program aired on March 15, 1999, and profiled George Washington. Subsequent programs featured each president in succession, concluding with Bill Clinton on December 20, 1999. (Despite serving two non-consecutive terms, Grover Cleveland was only profiled on one program.)
Artist Chas Fagan was commissioned by C-SPAN to paint portraits of each of the 41 men who had held the office of U.S. President through 1999. He was given a 90-day window from the time he agreed to the assignment until the time that the project needed to be complete. In September, 1999, Union Station in Washington, D.C., hosted a display of Fagan's presidential portraits. Since then, Fagan has also painted portraits of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and toured with exhibits of those portraits.
...From the sites, noted biographers, presidential scholars, descendents and other guests presented revealing information and assessments of the life, times and legacies of the presidents. The tone set by chairman and CEO (and reluctant air personality) Brian P. Lamb remains on point: good television often takes time, requires few special effects and demands (and rewards) good listening...
...For creating a series that perfectly embodies the essence of public service in electronic communications, a Peabody Award is presented to C-SPAN for "American Presidents: Life Portraits."
Note: In addition to the interviewees listed, each program featured a variety of other experts, many of whom were employed by or volunteered for the historical sites from which the programs were being broadcast.