To try to summarize the life of Teddy Roosevelt in the introductory paragraph of this article would do him a disservice. He was once shot yet delivered his speech anyway before going to the hospital. He was blinded in one eye while boxing with an artillery officer in the White House. He ate up to a dozen eggs for breakfast a day. He completed the Panama Canal, dedicated over 100 million acres of national forests, won the Nobel Peace Prize, passed the first workmen’s compensation laws, and sent the Great White Fleet around the world as a display of America’s power. He was an author, soldier, adventurer, athlete, naturalist, president, and force of nature.
Sadly, interviews with the president are no longer possible without the aid of a psychic medium, but there is a man in Minnesota who channels the Bull Moose’s spirit in a different way. A longtime admirer of Teddy Roosevelt, Adam Lindquist was as pleased as punch to see how much he resembled his hero while looking at a photo of himself one day in 2007. He realized that his hair color, eye color, build, and height were all Teddy’s too, so he asked himself: Why not take the next step and be him as well?
Adam now travels the country as Teddy Roosevelt Live, paying homage to the great statesman by adopting his persona and bringing him back to life. “I’m blessed to naturally look like Teddy,” said Adam, “Honing my interpretation of him was a matter of listening to his endless recordings so I could adopt his unique voice, cadence, and energy. Teddy was an animated man. In impersonating him, I must always temper my performance so that I do not portray him like a caricature of the already imposing figure that he was.”
“There were many different eras in Teddy Roosevelt’s life,” Adam continued. “There was cowboy Teddy from his days in Dakota Territory, there was Rough Rider Teddy from the Spanish-American War, and there was President Teddy from the turn of the century. I have 15 outfits that encapsulate his best-known appearances. My favorite take on the man is as the day he met with the naturalist John Muir at Yosemite — just a simple khaki outfit with gators and a hat.”
“That was a pivotal moment in Teddy’s life, and the beginning of my favorite part of his legacy. Teddy always loved big game hunting and ornithology, and took every chance he could get to appreciate the outdoors. It was at that fated meeting, however, when Muir helped him to see just how finite America’s resources are, and how vulnerable her natural beauty is. Teddy would go on to champion the dedication of national parks and monuments, including the Grand Canyon, and to combat needless and aggressive corporate consumption of our land.”
“I speak a lot about Teddy’s conservationism when I portray him. I have done a lot of work with the national parks, our wildlife refuges, the Boy Scouts of America, and countless other organizations around the country. In this way I reach about 150,000 people per year, including a lot of kids who had never heard of Teddy before seeing me. That means everything to me.”
“Theodore Roosevelt was a man of conviction. He believed that every decision he made was done so not for his generation, but rather the ones that would follow afterward. He was also a man of reinvention. As a little boy, he was so asthmatic that his doctors believed he wouldn’t live past four years of age. He grew up in bed reading books about nature and adventure, telling himself that he would one day be a great pioneer. He did. His wife and mother passed away on the same day, but rather than waste away in misery he shipped out to become a rancher in North Dakota. He never expected McKinley to be assassinated, but was as ready as any man could be to become president on such short notice. We should all endeavor to be as tireless, visionary, and prepared for adversity as Teddy was.”
Hear, hear. Should you like Adam to portray the legendary president, whether for an historic reenactment or educational lecture on conservation or Teddy’s history itself, you may reach out to him via teddyrooseveltlive.com. And if you ever fail to rise up to meet Teddy’s example, just remember his immortal words: “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”
By David Scheller