The story of the renowned American polymath.

On Disc

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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


Series cast summary:
Richard Easton ...
 Benjamin Franklin (3 episodes, 2002)
 Franklin as a young man (3 episodes, 2002)
 Narrator (3 episodes, 2002)
 Paul Wentworth (3 episodes, 2002)
Matthew Bentley ...
 Benjamin as a child (3 episodes, 2002)
Michael Bentley ...
 Benjamin as a child (3 episodes, 2002)
Carol Berkin ...
 Herself (3 episodes, 2002)
 Jane Franklin Mecom (3 episodes, 2002)
 Silence Dogood (3 episodes, 2002)
Anthony Cochrane ...
 King George III (3 episodes, 2002)
John Curless ...
 William Strahan (3 episodes, 2002)
Peter Donaldson ...
 John Adams (3 episodes, 2002)
 Catherine Ray (3 episodes, 2002)
 Joseph Galloway (3 episodes, 2002)
 Joseph Priestley (3 episodes, 2002)
 Le Comte de Vergennes (3 episodes, 2002)
 Jonathan Austin (3 episodes, 2002)
John Christopher Jones ...
 Ephraim Eliot (3 episodes, 2002)
 Thomas Penn (3 episodes, 2002)
Eddie Korbich ...
 Jared Ruggles (3 episodes, 2002)
 Deborah Read Franklin (3 episodes, 2002)
 Elkanah Watson (3 episodes, 2002)
Edmund Morgan ...
 Himself (3 episodes, 2002)
 Robert Whittington (3 episodes, 2002)
 Vicomte (3 episodes, 2002)
 Mme. Brillon de Jouy (3 episodes, 2002)
Andrew Seear ...
 British Government Official (3 episodes, 2002)
 Cotton Mather (3 episodes, 2002)
 William Franklin (3 episodes, 2002)
Michael Zuckerman ...
 Himself (3 episodes, 2002)
Ralph Archbold
(2 episodes, 2002)


In American history, few people have cut a more impressive figure than Benjamin Franklin. Beginning with his successful journalism and publishing careers, Franklin began a life of extraordinary achievement and variety. This series covers the multifaceted man whose life included public service, diplomacy, science, inventing and political action that would help redefine a world. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



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Release Date:

19 November 2002 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(3 episodes)


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Did You Know?


Franklin invented the US Postal Service. See more »

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User Reviews

Does it get any better?
25 January 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

It is not surprising that this biography of Ben Franklin received an Emmy Award as Outstanding Non-Fiction Special. After all, the show is a quality production throughout and has more than enough of the usual PBS polish and glitz to many anyone happy.

This documentary consists of narration, paintings and historical recreations. And, much of the narration is based on the actual writings of the various folks. So, while you often see an actor very ably play Franklin, you also see actors as his sons, friends, foreign acquaintances and the like. It tends to make the story a lot more real--like the real life folks are talking directly to us--as if we are confidants.

Content-wise, this is also an exceptional film. Being so long was important, as too often biographies of larger than life people are too short. This on allows a deeper exploration of the man and covers much of the same material in the masterful biography "The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin"--which would make for great reading AFTER you see this film. Wonderful and expertly made in every way--this is simply terrific.

By the way, the best part, to me, was in the second half when Franklin did a wonderfully witty dialog with 'Madame Gout'--as if his gout pains were alive and having a conversation with him. It's quite clever and made me laugh. I also appreciated the insight from the lady who explained why she thinks that Franklin never received as much acclaim as George Washington in this country--it made sense and made me think.

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