Philly’s Benjamin Franklin Has Passed Away

Ralph Archbold, the man who played Benjamin Franklin in the city of Philadelphia for decades, has passed away on March 25, 2017.

Ralph Archbold began portraying Benjamin Franklin in 1973 for a local summer production in Dearborn, Michigan. He later went on to perform as the Founding Father around the world.

Talk about prepping for a role.  Archbold read over 200 of Franklin’s books and was actually born on Franklin’s birthday, January 17.

He began performing at schools full-time, and in 1981 moved to Philadelphia to continue his impersonation in Franklin’s home city where demand was higher.

Known as the official Benjamin Franklin for the city of Philadelphia, Archbold was best known for his in-character chats with tourist and children from around the world. He was regularly seen sitting on a park bench in Franklin Court.

His family says, the sculpture of Benjamin Franklin that graces the Vine Street Expressway was modeled using Ralph’s likeness.

He is survived by his wife, Linda, daughters Elizabeth Nelson and Marie Claire Archbold, sons Kenneth and Michael Archbold, stepdaughter Lauren Scudieri, and one grandson, Caleb Nelson.

Memorial contributions can be made to The Benjamin Franklin Museum, care of Independence National Historic Park, 143 S. 3rd St. Philadelphia PA 19106.

“May we always remember him, in colonial costume, doing what he loved best,” said his family in a statement announcing Ralph’s death.


Image Credits: Photo by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

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