Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

CJ Extra Q&A:

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

CJ Extra Q&A:

Article excerpt

Everything from the ads used to sell sandwiches, to the silver screen, to the animatronics figure at Disneyland has shaped the image and likeness of Abraham Lincoln in both memory and history, according to an Emporia State University professor.

Brian Miller, associate professor of history at ESU, will discuss Lincoln's memory using more than 50 images at the Sundown Film Festival on Friday, July 10, at the Kansas Historical Society, 6425 S.W. 6th. The 6:30 p.m. talk will precede the showing of the Steven Spielberg movie "Lincoln," which will be shown when the sun goes down about 9 p.m.

Miller, who grew up running around the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pa., and playing Civil War in his backyard as a kid, also will be talking about his current research on the animatronics version of Lincoln at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.

With a figure of Lincoln propped on his desk at Emporia State, Miller sat down with The Topeka Capital-Journal to talk about his current research surrounding Lincoln and his thoughts on the movie.

Q: What exactly will you be talking about at the festival?

Miller: The presentation is how Abraham Lincoln's image and likeness has been used throughout history. So the presentation will actually start with a lot of visual images of Abraham Lincoln in modern day commercials and films and television programs -- how Lincoln has been used to sell everything from Subway sandwiches, to sleep medications, to used cars and mattresses during the presidential holidays.

What we'll do is ask why Lincoln's image is so poignant and prominent in American society? Why is he so easily recognizable? And then we'll sort of rewind and go back in time and look at the image of Lincoln throughout his life and then beyond.

It's really generated for a general audience that may know something about Abraham Lincoln but didn't realize how prominent the image of Abraham Lincoln itself has been throughout history.

Q: Will you be talking about your research on the animatronic Lincoln at Disneyland?

Miller: Yes. Walt Disney, who grew up in Marceline, Mo., just north of Kansas City, spent a lot of time in elementary school dressing as Lincoln for Lincoln's birthday, and he would come to school and recite the Gettysburg address.

Walt always found Lincoln to be the greatest American. Particularly when Disney was asked to participate in the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., he had this grand idea to do what is today the Hall of Presidents (at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.) for that particular fair, but the animatronics weren't to the point where they could do every single figure. So they scaled it down just to do Abraham Lincoln, obviously Walt's favorite.

To me, this is the most seen Lincoln thing out there, if you will. …

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