Today, Feb. 22, is the real birthday of George Washington, Revolutionary War hero and first president of the United States. In his honor, a third group of TV stars (click here and here for the previous ones) share their picks for favorite Founding Father (and yes, Mr. Washington makes an appearance, though some of their other picks may surprise you) …
John Walsh of Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted,” developer turned father of a murdered son turned activist turned fugitive-hunting TV host: “Thomas Jefferson. He was a renaissance man. He has such great side interests — architecture and farming, all the different things he was involved in. The dichotomy, of course, was that he owned slaves, but he was conflicted about that.
“He sorta got drafted into (the Revolution). I’m not making a parallel between myself and Thomas Jefferson, but sometimes you do what you have to do. Life takes you in the strangest, strangest ways. There’s no real plan.”
Sean Casey of Discovery’s “Storm Chasers”: “I’ll have to say John Jay (picture below), because he doesn’t get any publicity. He was the mayor of New York. I guess also Benjamin Franklin. He was an inventor, a renaissance man. He was the first reported storm chaser. He saw the phenomenon of a tornado. He was on horseback, and he rode after it, following its path. He went through trees, couldn’t find it and came back.”
Dana Delany of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives”: “I would say Jefferson just because I like the fact that he was an oenophile. Also, people criticize Jefferson now, but I understand the whole thing, that he came from an elite class, was and wasn’t. He saw the value of his education, but he was also a man of the people. It was an interesting combination.”
Mike Vogel of CBS’ upcoming “Miami Medical”: “Jefferson, his ideals, the conservatism that he espoused, at least as I know it, Jeffersonian democracy. Also, I like James Madison. When you look at the checks and balances that they had to go through just to get these guys to show up at a federal meeting, like of the federal government. They had to take it through every level of their state governments, to make sure their state would be OK with them showing up.
“They were so adamant about maintaining the rights of the states before turning it over to the national, federal level of government. Now, it’s completely reversed. We’re the little puppy dogs, looking up to big Mama, saying ‘Feed me, feed me.’ We’ve gotten it all backwards. Hopefully it will turn around.”
George Duran, host of TLC’s “Ultimate Cake-Off”: “Some of my biggest accomplishments in life tend to be hidden commuter secrets during the NYC rush hour, and Francis Lewis Blvd. (or ‘Franny Lew’) is at the top of my list. This time-saving road was named after Francis Lewis, a governmental delegate from Queens who was once taken as a prisoner to France (shipped in a box!) and eventually signed our Declaration of Independence. This is a Founding Father who suffered for our liberty and continues to un-suffer my daily commute!”
Jon Seda of HBO’s upcoming World War II miniseries “The Pacific”: “George Washington, just because, to me, that was the foundation to all the rest of the foundation. It was new. It wasn’t anything that was seen before — starting out together, how the United States is one big family, and we’re going to to through everything together. For me, he was the Founding Father of that.”
James Badge Dale of “The Pacific”: “John Hancock — he was the jerk who signed his name bigger (HCTV: So, he said, King George could read it without his spectacles). No, Thomas Jefferson. I find him a very interesting man. The interesting thing about these men, the original band of brothers, is that they all had completely different opinions of what America is and what it should be and what is important and not important, and they were still able to come together and work together. I think there’s a real important message in there.”
Joe Mazzello of “The Pacific”: “Piggybacking on what Jon was saying, I think what was amazing about George Washington was that he had this crazy idea — ‘I’m going to give up power.’ They called him the king of America. No one thought it was real. They thought, ‘If this man gives up power, he’s the greatest man in the world. It’s just such an amazing thing.
“Now, we take that for granted, yeah, every four, eight years, presidents go and then we get a new one. But up until through (Franklin Delano) Roosevelt, it wasn’t even a rule. Men just did that. He started that off. That can’t be overlooked, how amazing it was for him to say, ‘I’m going to do this. It’s my job, and I’m going to go back home and be a private citizen.’
“That notion, it’s amazing. It was walking the walk. All of the guys, Jefferson and Adams and all of them, said, ‘We don’t want your tyranny. You can have it. Leave us alone. Let us be free.’ Then George Washi
ngton walked the walk by saying, ‘I’m giving up power and handing it over to the next man,’ and just started that tradition — something that is so mind-boggling.”