Like the current President and First Lady, Hillary loves theatre and the arts. She often sneaks away when she can to see a good play or musical.

This is a personal account of one of those nights from the actress who recently played Mary Todd Lincoln at the Ford Theatre in Washington.

Hillary Meets Mary Lincoln

By Mary Bacon

I played Mary Todd Lincoln in "The Widow Lincoln" by James Still at The Ford's theatre in D.C. in January 2015. You may or may not know much about Mary Lincoln. She was President Lincoln's wife and widow and for the time between First Lady of the United States--the first to have the title.

After his assassination, Mary shut herself up in a rarely used small room upstairs near the family quarters right – and did not come out for 40 days. This play was about her time spent there, and what ultimately enabled her to leave the room and the White House.

Like those who came after--Eleanor, Jackie, or even Hillary herself, Mary was a complex, engaged and often consulted First Lady. Upon his first election, Lincoln told her, "Mary, we've won the White House!" since she had been such a force behind his campaign.

Ok – one night we heard that there was a VIP in the House – we did not know who – but I noticed on my wifi networks backstage an "FBI VAN WIFI" account – that was the tip off. We all thought, "It's Michelle! And the girls!"

Whenever possible, Michelle, Malia and Sasha and yes, the President too, go to theatre.

Then, after curtain call, I heard it was Hillary Clinton! And that she may not come back, that sometimes happens – but we all stepped of the stage into a little hallway, and were told she wanted to meet us!

And then there she was, suddenly, with her sister in law and her adorable 8-year-old niece, Fiona. She told us that this was Fiona's Christmas present, to see this play since Abraham Lincoln is Fiona's favorite president.

Then Hillary said, "I told her that Lincoln was my favorite president , too, and she leaned into me really close and whispered, "Does Bill know?"

And then Hillary said when she had told Bill what Fiona had said, he laughed and replied, "That Fiona! She always has my back!"

Then Hillary spoke with us – and shook my hand, and said that everything Mary Todd said about Washington City was absolutely true: "It's an awwwful place. But– you get used to it! And you learn not to take it so seriously!"

And she threw her head back with that big laugh of hers.

The Famous Hillary laugh.

I think of that every time I see all the negativity that is thrown at her for just about everything – I think, this woman can take it, she really, really can.

And my friend Caroline Clay who brilliantly played Elizabeth Keckley in our production, said to all of us after: "That could be our next POTUS!" And I felt like, YES. I just hope.

HIllary, niece Fiona, and the cast of THE WIDOW LINCOLN At the Ford, January 2015.

It was like meeting a super nova.

So warm, so beautiful in person, so open and available.

She also spoke with me aside about the other first ladies Mary had mentioned, and all they went through, that it is truly the biggest unpaid job ever. And I was amazed at her immediate knowledge of Martha Washington, of Abigail Adams, and other First Ladies and the specific, individual struggles they faced. Though she didn't talk directly about her own experiences as First Lady, she made clear she related to these First Ladies, though she wasn't complaining. She was wonderful in every way.

And that's it!


ADDENDUM--from Caroline Clay who played Keckley-- Hillary knew as much as Keckley as I did. How affirming that was for me as a woman of color to hear.

Caroline Clay as Keckley and Mary Bacon as Mary Todd.


August 4, 2016

Addendum August 10

Mary Bacon mentioned that Hillary brought her niece Fiona Rodham to see her play as a birthday present. Here is another photo of Hillary and Fiona on another celebratory occasion. Lucky and much loved girl.

Hillary and Fiona at DNCinPHL on August 28, 2016 when balloons fell after Hillary accepted the nomination for President.Barbara Kinney, photographer

Show Comments ()


Follow Us On


On Social