The Great Man's Whiskers

The Great Man's Whiskers is a 1972 American TV film about Abraham Lincoln, directed by Philip Leacock. It was based on a play by Adrian Scott. The film featured a number of well known theatre and television character actors. Harve Presnell, featured as a ballad singer in the film, sings ‘’The Wilderness Man’’ written by Earl Robinson with lyrics by Yip Harburg. Isabel Sanford sings ‘’Things Go Bump in the Night’’ also written by Robinson and Harburg.[1] This was Mr. Harburg’s last work.[2]


A ten-year-old girl (Elizabeth Cooper) encourages Abraham Lincoln to grow a beard. Lincoln’s inaugural journey, by train, from Illinois to Washington, D.C. takes him through New York state. The journey includes a stop in the girl’s hometown of Westfield, NY. Lincoln, now with a full beard, takes the opportunity to meet the young girl.

The screenplay was inspired by the true story of Grace Bedell, who wrote Lincoln just before his election to the presidency in 1860.



In 1947 it was announced Adrian Scott would make his directorial debut with an adaptation of the play. John Paxton would produce.[3] However Scott was fired from RKO because of the blacklist.[4] For a time it seemed RKO would still do the project[5] but it was eventually dropped.

The screenplay by John Paxton was eventually directed by Philip Leacock at Universal City Studios in 1969.[6] The film aired on the NBC television network as a “TV Movie of the Week” on May 2, 1972. It was rebroadcast on February 13, 1973.[7]

The Los Angeles Times called it "foolish and belaboured."[8]


  1. "Great Man's Whiskers "The Wilderness Man"". Archives of Earl Robinson. 70/1, 4240-008: Archives West.
  2. "Yip Harburg Biography". Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  3. By THOMAS F BRADY Special to The New York Times. (1947, Sep 02). SCOTT WILL DIRECT OWN FILM AT RKO. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  4. By THOMAS M PRYOR Special to The New York Times. (1948, Jul 21). COWBOY GROOMED FOR FILM STARDOM. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  5. By THOMAS F BRADY Special to The New York Times. (1948, Feb 18). GOTTLIEB TO MAKE TWO NEW MOVIES. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  6. Norma, L. B. (1969, Aug 20). Hollywood today. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current File) Retrieved from
  7. Robert Adrian Scott, One of Hollywood's 'Unfriendly 10,' Dies. (1972, Dec 26). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  8. Murphy, M. (1973, Feb 13). CHESTER FORGOTTEN. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
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