Event Synopsis

In this one-of-a-kind event that celebrates Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, we are hosting four actors who brilliantly portray the four American presidents — Republican and Democratic — who most influenced him. Our 40th president’s optimistic, western vision was shaped by Thomas Jefferson. His free-market economics came straight out the presidency of Calvin Coolidge. During the Great Depression and Second World War, he was a steadfast admirer of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And the combination of tax cuts and strong defense was from the playbook of John F. Kennedy.
Each of the actors is an accomplished character interpreter and historian in his own right. Colonial Williamsburg’s William Barker will portray Jefferson. Jim Cooke will play Coolidge. John Hamant will present FDR. Brian Hilton will give us JFK. And Paddy Morrissey will be Reagan.
Join us for an enchanting evening of wit, wisdom, and lively history as we celebrate Ronald Reagan’s heroes and explore the roots of our 40th president’s worldview.

Character Actor Biographies

Paddy Morrissey (Ronald Reagan):


Bill Barker (Thomas Jefferson):


Brian Hilton (John F. Kennedy):


Jim Cooke (Calvin Coolidge):


John Hamant (Franklin Roosevelt):

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, John holds a B.F.A. in Theatrical Production and an M.A. in Acting and Directing from the University of Arizona in Tucson. A life-long interest in history prompted him to turn from a full-time acting career to the educational efforts of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

In his thirty three years with Colonial Williamsburg, John held the positions of Senior Archaeologist, Character Interpreter, Manager (and later Director) of Evening and Special Programs, and Director of Special Events and Protocol. As a Character Interpreter he developed the personages of Lord Botetourt, Peyton Randolph, John Greenhow, Lewis Burwell, and several others.

Beginning in 1993, John developed a portrayal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt for a special Colonial Williamsburg program. He continued to perform as the 32nd president over the next nine years for Colonial Williamsburg programming, and now has the honor of bringing FDR to life for more diverse and distant audiences. Though now semi-retired, John works as a writer, consultant, interpreter of persons of the past, and continues to perform in many of the Colonial Williamsburg evening programs.