America’s 33rd president is taking center stage over Presidents Day weekend in the Florida Keys as Clifton Truman Daniel, Harry Truman’s oldest grandson, depicts his grandfather in the one-man play “Give ’Em Hell, Harry!” at the former commander in chief’s one-time retreat.
Daniel, a seasoned actor and author, performed Friday on the grounds of the sprawling Harry S. Truman Little White House in Key West, where Truman spent 11 working vacations, totaling nearly six months of his 1945-1953 administration.
“He could relax in Key West; he loved it,” Daniel said. “Apparently he wrote to my grandmother that he had a good mind to move the whole government to Key West and just stay.”
With an encore performance Saturday evening, the show highlights weekend activities at Florida’s only presidential museum.
An accurate and sometime humorous exploration of Truman’s life and presidency, the production begins with “Harry” arriving on the Little White House grounds in a real limousine actually used by the former POTUS.
Daniel said his interpretation focuses on Truman as a good human being who cared about Americans, but also as the “grandpa” he remembered who had a strong sense of fun.
“I hope he would appreciate I’m portraying him onstage and that he would think I’m doing a good job,” Daniel said. “Being able to do it at the Little White House, for a Key West audience, I think my grandfather would be proud.”
Presented by the not-for-profit Key West Harry S. Truman Foundation, the weekend’s events are set to conclude Monday with a free-admission Presidents Day picnic on the Little White House grounds.