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Happy Birthday Mr. On-screen president

Celebrating the Presidents that never quite were

The exterior view of the south side of the White House
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Presidents' Day: A day to kick back and celebrate some of the most memorable men who have shaped U.S. history.

But with such a legacy to their names, shouldn't we spare a thought too for those who have had to portray them?

CNBC runs through some of the most iconic men to have run the country – almost…


Kelsey Grammer

Actor Kelsey Grammer
Frederick M. Brown | Getty Images

Famed for his role as radio psychiatrist in "Frasier," Kelsey Grammer took on the role of U.S. founding father George Washington in 2003 for "Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor," the television film documenting the plight of army general Benedict Arnold during the American Revolution.

Henry Fonda

Actor Henry Fonda
Michael Ochs Archives | Getty Images

Henry Fonda was one of the early movie stars to play a President on the silver screen, taking on Abraham Lincoln in the 1939 partially fictionalized biopic "Young Mr. Lincoln."

In 2003, the film was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."



Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis arrives at the 'Lincoln' premiere
Gregg DeGuire | WireImage

Daniel Day-Lewis took on the role of Abraham Lincoln in the Stephen Spielberg-directed biopic, "Lincoln."

His role in leading the country through the Civil War and bringing about the abolition of slavery later won him an Oscar.


Bill Murray

Actor Bill Murray attends the ''Hyde Park on Hudson' premiere
Samir Hussein | Getty Images for BFI

Bill Murray starred as Franklin D. Roosevelt in "Hyde Park on Hudson," a biographical comedy-drama about the president based on the private journals of his cousin and childhood friend Margaret "Daisy" Suckley.


Robin Williams

Robin Williams
Vera Anderson | WireImage

Robin Williams was part of a star-studded cast to chronicle the transition of power between five 20th century presidents in the 2013 film "The Butler."

Williams, playing Dwight Eisenhower, starred alongside James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, Liev Screiber as Lyndon Johnson, John Cusack as Richard Nixon and Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan.



Bruce Greenwood

James Devaney | WireImage

After Presidents Washington and Lincoln, John F. Kennedy is the most regularly portrayed U.S. President.

Bruce Greenwood was amongst the first thespians to take on the duty for the big screen, starring in the political thriller "Thirteen Days."



Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen In conversation at the 10th Annual Dubai International Film Festival
Andrew H. Walker | Getty Images for DIFF

Martin Sheen is another of the many actors to have portrayed the iconic John F. Kennedy, this time in the 1983 American-British TV miniseries entitled "Kennedy."

He later went on to play the fictional President Josiah Bartlet in the U.S. political drama "The West Wing."


Anthony Hopkins

Sir Anthony Hopkins during 2005 Toronto Film Festival
J. Vespa | WireImage

Anthony Hopkins has showcased his acting range playing both the early John Quincy Adams, who was known for his work in the abolition of slavery, and the more recent Richard Nixon.

Hopkins won a Critics' Choice Movie Award for his portrayal of Adams in Steven Spielberg's historical drama "Amistad" and was nominated for an Oscar for Nixon. He starred alongside Nigel Hawthorne who played the U.S.'s eighth President, Martin Van Buren.


Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey speaks on stage at the premiere of Netflix's 'House Of Cards'
Paul Morigi | Getty Images | Netflix

Kevin Spacey, too, starred as Richard Nixon, this time in 2016's "Elvis & Nixon."

He has also received critical acclaim for his portrayal of the fictional president Frank Underwood in the political drama "House of Cards."


John Travolta

Actor John Travolta speaks onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards
Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images

John Travolta set aside the T-Birds hair comb from his Grease days to play Bill Clinton in the 1998 film "Primary Colors" - a chronicle of the former President's first presidential campaign in 1992.

Clinton's campaign saw him elected as the 40th President of the U.S. and saw Travolta receive the applause of critics.


Dennis Quaid

Actor Dennis Quaid attends the 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards
Tommaso Boddi | WireImage

Dennis Quaid worked alongside Michael Sheen in TV drama "The Special Relationship," a depiction of the partnership between Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair between 1997 and 2001.

Josh Brolin

Actor Josh Brolin
Larry Busacca | Getty Images

In one of the more recent biographical dramas based on the service of U.S. Presidents, Josh Brolin took on the role of President George W. Bush in "W.," which documents his life and presidency.

Now, with a former-President Barack Obama considering his next moves and President Donald Trump newly in office, we await Hollywood's next big decision...