William Daniels The Actor

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John Quincy Adams, The Adams Chronicles

Television, 1976

In 1976 PBS aired a 13-episode series called The Adams Chronicles. I played John Quincy Adams, John Adams' oldest son. I was glad I was offered John Quincy instead of John Adams pere. I'd played John Adams twice already. It was time to turn the page. John Quincy was as much an abolitionist as his father. In 1839, he agreed to defend 50 Africans who had been captured in Sierra Leone to be sold into slavery in the United States.

The government gave PBS permission to film in the old Supreme Court building which had been roped off for public exhibition. During one scene I sat at the very desk Adams used.

Several years later, on an ABC show called The Bastard, I played Samuel Adams, the hot-headed revolutionary cousin of John Adams. At that point, I felt I had achieved a lock on the Adams family. I had played every one of them except Abigail.