January 17, 1942|
Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||March 25, 2017
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Cause of death||Complications from congestive heart failure|
|Known for||Impersonation of Benjamin Franklin|
|Spouse(s)||Linda Wilde (m. 2008–17) (his death)|
Archbold began impersonating Franklin in 1973 for a local summer production in Dearborn, Michigan. He enjoyed the role so much he read over 200 of Franklin's books, and realized that he was born on Franklin's birthday, January 17. He began performing at schools full-time, and in 1981 moved to Philadelphia to continue his impersonation in Franklin's home city where demand was higher. He currently gives frequent speeches for company meetings, and is regularly seen sitting on a park bench in Franklin Court.
He has been declared the official Benjamin Franklin for the city of Philadelphia, and has been awarded Philadelphia magazine's Best of Philly Award. His photo appears frequently in tourist literature and brochures. He has also appeared on television, including Today, The History Channel, and The Colbert Report. He has also been featured at the Philadelphia celebration "200 Years of Benjamin Franklin's Genius" and in "The Franklin Pleaser," a video produced by Philadelphia sketch group Secret Pants for the Philadelphia Film Festival, appeared for every President of the United States since Gerald Ford, and was appointed by George W. Bush to a 15-member commission to oversee the celebration of Franklin's 300th birthday.
Archbold, like Franklin, is balding and requires the use of bifocals and cane. He wears period clothing, including a frilly shirt, a vest, and shoes with buckles, making his appearance historically accurate.
On July 3, 2008 Archbold married Linda Wilde, a historical impersonator known for playing Betsy Ross. The wedding was held in front of Independence Hall, entirely in costume, with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter officiating. He has since suffered a stroke, but expressed his hope to resume his Franklin impersonation by July 2010. In 2013, he was present, in character, for the reopening of the Franklin Museum in Philadelphia.
Archbold died of complications congestive heart failure in Philadelphia on March 25, 2017 at the age of 75.
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