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The Broadway production of "The Last of Mrs. Lincoln" opened at the ANTA Playhouse in New York on December 12, 1972 and ran for 63 performances. Julie Harris, Macon McCalman and Kate Wilkinson recreated their stage roles for this filmed production. Julie Harris won the 1973 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for playing Mary Todd Lincoln on stage and in this production. See more »
Mary Todd Lincoln was probably the most misunderstood and controversial first lady of all. This play tells of her tragic final years after Lincoln's assassination. As beloved as Abraham Lincoln is today, there is something that is hard to believer, when he was alive he was probably the most hated President in history. One reason is that he freed the slaves and supressed many cival liberties. He was forced to take the powers of a dictator during his term. There was an American historian named William Hanchett that talked of the assassination and he said that Booth really believed he was killing a horrible tyrant. He said that during WWII we would have revered someone who killed Adolf Hitler and many people at that time thought of Lincoln as we thought of Hitler. Mary Todd suffered all her life from terrible headaches and severe depression. The Lincoln marriage wasn't as horrible as some made it out to be but she wasn't an easy person to live with! People criticized and villified her as well during her years as First Lady. They got onto her about overspending and the fact that her relatives were Southern rebels. This poor woman had to undergo criticism and scrutiny that no other first lady in history has had to endure. To top this off, her husband was assassinated by her side and she saw the death of three of her beloved sons and a fourth son who had her committed to an asylum to keep her from spending his money. Julie Harris brings Mrs. Lincoln to life splendidly. You feel so bad for this poor woman especially when they show Tad dying a horrible death from consumption. Robby Benson gives a tender touching performance as a loving son. It has been debated weather Mrs. Lincoln really was insane, but the tragedies she suffered would have broken just about anyone. This play brings to life one of the most misunderstood women in history and no one could have done it better then Julie Harris. You feel so for her that there may be a lump in your throat at the end when she finally dies. In her last years, Mrs. Lincoln often said that all she wanted was to join her husband and three sons. I hope that she got her wish, she earned it.
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