Ben Franklin Impersonator Ralph Archbold Dies at 75

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Friends and family are mourning the death of Ralph Archbold, a popular speaker best known for impersonating Benjamin Franklin for decades. Archbold died on March 25 at the age of 75. 

Born on January 17, 1942, Archbold shared the same birthday as the founding father who he would go on to impersonate. Archbold first portrayed Franklin in 1973 during a performance at a historical village in Michigan, where he grew up. Archbold then began to research Franklin more and continued working on his impersonation.

After moving to Philadelphia in 1982, Archbold eventually became known as the world’s most famous Benjamin Franklin impersonator through several high profile speaking engagements and appearances at schools, events and television programs, including the Today Show and the History Channel. He also became the official Ben Franklin impersonator for the University of Pennsylvania, Freedom’s Foundation and the Franklin Institute.

In 2006, he was appointed by President George Bush to a Federal Commission overseeing the celebration of Ben Franklin’s 300th birthday.

Archbold married Betsy Ross impersonator Linda Wilde in 2008. The couple’s wedding took place at Independence Hall with Mayor Michael Nutter officiating. A year later Archbold suffered a stroke but later recovered and continued working as an impersonator until his death.

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