P. T. Barnum, Who Portrayed Him Best?

by dgranger | created - 16 Mar 2018 | updated - 8 months ago | Public

The life of the legendary showman, circus impresario, producer, anti-slavery politician, businessman, and author Phineas Taylor 'P.T.' Barnum was told in film, a Broadway play, and television movies and tv shows at least six times which included two very good and imaginative musical versions. Each version, and therefore the actors too, emphasized different aspects of Barnum’s life. Who portrayed Barnum the best?

“Now Ladies and Gentlemen, for your entertainment, may I direct your attention to the center ring (page) to discuss the topic there?”

Note: two of the actors on this list, Beery and Lancaster, actually were circus performers (Beery was actually in P. T. Barnum and Bailey’s and Ringling Brother’s Three Ring Circus), and two others, Jackman and Crawford, had to learn and perform several circus stunts in order to perform their roles.

1. Wallace Beery

Actor | Dinner at Eight

In 1902, 16-year-old Wallace Beery joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as an assistant to the elephant trainer. He left two years later after a leopard clawed his arm. Beery next went to New York, where he found work in musical variety shows. He became a leading man in musicals and appeared on ...

2. Burt Lancaster

Actor | From Here to Eternity

Burt Lancaster, one of five children, was born in Manhattan, to Elizabeth (Roberts) and James Henry Lancaster, a postal worker. All of his grandparents were immigrants from Northern Ireland. He was a tough street kid who took an early interest in gymnastics. He joined the circus as an acrobat and ...

3. Hugh Jackman

Actor | Les Misérables

Hugh Michael Jackman is an Australian actor, singer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer and producer. Jackman has won international recognition for his roles in major films, notably as superhero, period, and romance characters. He is best known for his long-running role as Wolverine in the X-Men film ...

4. Michael Crawford

Actor | Hello, Dolly!

Michael Crawford raised by a single mother (Doris Pike) and his maternal grandparents (Montague Pike and Edith O'Keefe Pike) in what Crawford described as a "close-knit [Roman] Catholic family". His maternal grandmother was born in County Londonderry, Ireland, and lived to be 99 years old. His ...

5. Beau Bridges

Actor | The Fabulous Baker Boys

Beau Bridges was born in Hollywood, and is the son of actor Lloyd Bridges and his wife, who was his college sweetheart, Dorothy Dean Bridges. Born just two days after the attack on Pearl Harbour, he was delivered by candlelight because of a power blackout. Named Lloyd Vernet Bridges III, his ...

P.T. Barnum (1999) the older Barnum

6. Jordan Bridges

Actor | Drive Me Crazy

Jordan Bridges was born on November 13, 1973 in Los Angeles County, California, USA as Jordan P. Bridges. He is an actor, known for Drive Me Crazy (1999), Mona Lisa Smile (2003) and Dawson's Creek (1998). He has been married to Carrie Eastman since 2002. They have two children.

Younger Barnum, P.T. Barnum (1999)

7. Dell Yount

Actor | Drive Me to Vegas and Mars

Dell Yount was born in California, March 28, 1960. He studied at California State University, San Bernardino and Fullerton, where he earned his BA & MFA in Theatre Arts (Acting). After graduation, Dell traveled to New York and won a lead role in the National Tour of the Tony Award winning musical "...

The “P. T. Barnum” episode of A.J.'s Time Travelers (1995)

8. Billy Zane

Actor | Titanic

William George Zane, better known as Billy Zane, was born on February 24, 1966 in Chicago, Illinois, to Thalia (Colovos) and William Zane, both of Greek ancestry. His parents were amateur actors and managed a medical technical school. Billy has an older sister, actress and singer Lisa Zane. Billy ...

Freakshow (2017) episode of Legends of Tomorrow (2016). (Suggested by Pencho15)

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