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Clifton Truman Daniel portrays President Harry Truman in "Give 'Em Hell, Harry!" on October 10th


Clifton Truman Daniel portrays President Harry Truman in "Give

(CAPE MAY, NJ) --  There are fewer than dozens of living direct descendants of U.S. presidents and only one who steps into the role of his presidential ancestor on stage. Actor Clifton Truman Daniel brings to life his grandfather, President Harry S. Truman, in this fall’s production “Give ’Em Hell, Harry!” at Cape May Convention Hall, 714 Beach Ave. on Sunday, October 10 at 5:00pm.

The performance is a faithful and often humorous portrayal of President Truman’s life and presidency that has garnered awards and accolades since its premiere in 1975. Since October 2017, Daniel has performed the role, marking the first time a U.S. president has been portrayed onstage by a direct descendant. This performance originally scheduled in 2020 is rescheduled to 2021.

Cape May MAC (Museums+Arts+Culture)’s Lessons of History Distinguished Lecture Series presents a national speaker every year in October in an engaging and in-depth talk on an important topic of history. This is the ninth event in the series and the first time a performance, rather than a lecture, will be featured. The play spans Truman’s childhood, his “political apprenticeship” as a judge in Jackson County, Mo., his years in the U.S. Senate and his momentous two terms as president.

Set in a recreation of the Oval Office, the play is a historically accurate portrayal of the 33rd president of the United States, teeming with delightful humor. The title comes from an incident that took place during the 1948 presidential election campaign. In Bremerton, Wash., Truman delivered a speech attacking the Republicans. During the speech, a supporter yelled out, “Give ‘em Hell, Harry!” Truman replied, “I don’t give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them, and they think it’s Hell.” Subsequently, “Give ‘em Hell, Harry!” became a lifetime slogan for Truman supporters.

Daniel is the oldest grandson of President Harry S. Truman and first lady, Bess Truman. He is the son of author Margaret Truman and former New York Times Managing Editor E. Clifton Daniel, Jr. Daniel is honorary chairman of the board of the Truman Library Institute, Kansas City, Mo., and board secretary of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. He is author of “Growing Up with My Grandfather: Memories of Harry S. Truman” and “Dear Harry, Love Bess: Bess Truman’s Letters to Harry Truman, 1919-1943.” In addition to portraying his famous grandfather on stage, Daniel is a sought-after lecturer on various aspects of the Truman presidency, as well as United States and White House history.

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As an actor, Daniel has appeared in more than a dozen productions with Wilmington, N.C.’s Opera House Theatre Company, including Ensign Pulver in “Mr. Roberts,” Nathan Detroit in “Guys and Dolls,” Mortimer Brewster in “Arsenic and Old Lace,” Randle P. McMurphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Antonio Salieri in “Amadeus.” He has also had supporting roles in two episodes of “Matlock” and played Roma Downey’s husband in the never-aired pilot for “Touched by an Angel.” Daniel most recently portrayed the role of President Harry S. Truman, his grandfather, in the award-winning independent film, “Second Samuel,” from Director/Executive Producer/Co-writer J. Wayne Patterson, Jr.

“Give ’Em Hell, Harry! The life and presidency of Harry S. Truman as portrayed by his grandson Clifton Truman Daniel” is Sunday, October 10 at 5:00pm at Cape May Convention Hall, 714 Beach Ave. Tickets are $40 adults, $15 students and teachers. To purchase tickets call 609-884-5404 or visit www.capemaymac.org. Tickets are limited. Social distancing will be observed. Masks are encouraged and will be available; hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes will also be available. This event is co-sponsored by Cape May MAC and Martel & Associates (Myles & Leslie Martel).

Cape May MAC (Museums+Arts+Culture) is a multifaceted not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors. Cape May MAC membership is open to all.  

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originally published: 09/17/2021

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