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The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer 

The misadventures of Abraham Lincoln, his loony associates, and the only sane man amongst them, the President's black butler Desmond.




1998   Unknown  




Series cast summary:
Chi McBride ...  Desmond Pfeiffer 6 episodes, 1998
Max Baker ...  Nibblet 6 episodes, 1998
Dann Florek ...  Abraham Lincoln 6 episodes, 1998
Christine Estabrook ...  Mary Todd Lincoln 6 episodes, 1998
Kelly Connell Kelly Connell ...  Ulysses S. Grant 6 episodes, 1998
Nick Jameson ...  Emperor of France / ... 3 episodes, 1998
Jack Salvatore Jr. ...  Young Abe / ... 2 episodes, 1998


Desmond Pfeiffer (the P is pronounced) was a black British gentleman who was run out of England after being accused of cheating at cards. He takes a job as butler to a perpetually horny Abraham Lincoln in the White House during the Civil War. Written by Jeff Cross <blackjac_1998@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The "P" is not silent. See more »


Comedy | History







Release Date:

5 October 1998 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Four episodes were broadcast before the show was canceled. It was later spoofed and referenced several times in Clerks (2000) (though the characters did not pronounce the "P" in "Pfeiffer"). That animated series was even more short-lived, lasting a mere two weeks on the air before it was canceled. See more »


Referenced in DVD-R Hell: Deception of a Generation: Part 1 (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Benson Meets Lincoln
24 August 2006 | by DeanNYCSee all my reviews

The Secret Diary Of Desmond Pfeiffer was a show that parodied one of America's most enduring icons: President Abraham Lincoln and the people in his administration. And, as such, it disturbed a lot of historians and Civil War buffs that found the concept unseemly. In fact, it was pretty darned funny.

The title character (with the "P" pronounced) was a British manservant in the employ of the 16th President and he would write his observations about what went on behind the scenes at The White House, in his secret diary, giving you a very different spin on what the history books had to say. Desmond was smart, sharp, had a comeback for every comment and did it with a smile and with style, and that all served to remind audiences of the character of Benson, another manservant in the employ of a politician.

Some of the character traits of these historic figures were based on information that was known, but not widely discussed: like General U.S. Grant's propensity for drink, and Mary Todd's mental illnesses. What people probably found most offensive was that Lincoln was portrayed as a both a philanderer and a complete and utter fool, who needed to be instructed by Desmond on every occasion, even begging his assistant for help at times.

The jokes were usually at the expense of the above three characters, as Desmond constantly had to straighten out the situations their personality traits got them into, and save the day, with the help of, or really, in spite of his assistant, Nibblet, a completely inept White House staffer. However, whatever got patched up was always made to look like Lincoln and his company were the true heroes, for posterity's sake. But there was one other major political target for the show's humor...

There were many parallels to the Clinton administration and the troubles that plagued it at the time of the program's broadcast. Lincoln's sexual fetishes made a clear statement about the Executive branch's needs throughout history, and the recurring character of Hillary wandering around the 1990s version of the White House was included as part of an episode's dénouement.

So many took offense at the entire concept of the show that it really had no chance, and the program was pulled off the air after only a handful of episodes. Despite the quick cancellation, I felt the series was in the same league as the brilliant Mel Brooks Robin Hood parody, "When Things Were Rotten," from some 20 years before, another show that viewers and even some critics at the time just didn't seem to get.

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