The story of the renowned American polymath.

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


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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 ...
 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 ...
 Robert Whittington 3 episodes, 2002
Natacha Roi ...
 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 ...
Ralph Archbold


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 (

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Release Date:

19 November 2002 (USA)  »

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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 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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