Reinventing Ben Franklin

July 3, 2009 3:02:19 PM PDT
It will be a busy weekend for the alternate Ben Franklin, not the bridge or the parkway, but the impersonator. The new guy chosen to play old Ben this weekend is making a full slate of 4th of July appearances while at the same time sending get well wishes to the original imitator.

This holiday, Ben Franklin was seen at one of his favorite spots, in Old City sitting under his mulberry tree.

But this year, the main Franklin impersonator is someone new: Bill Robling.

The actor, who has done some Franklin portrayals over the last eight years, stepped in when his friend Ralph Archbald, the usual Big Ben, suffered a stroke in June.

"He's in the process right now of undergoing his rehabilitation and we all wish him very well, in the meantime, there's a lot of work to be done, and Ralph has asked that I pick up as much as possible," Bill "Ben Franklin" Robling said.

Robling is now working all kinds of hours, greeting visitors in Old City all day Friday, appearing at the Phillies game, and rising at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning to be on the weekend edition of Good Morning America.

"I thought I was busy this summer and I thought I was going to be busy this week and I found there are more hours in the day than I realized," Robling said.

One thing you won't see is Robling with Linda Wilde, the Betsy Ross impersonator who usually appears with Archbald and married him last year. In fact, tomorrow is their first anniversary.

"Linda's where she needs to be right now, by Ralph's side," Robling said.

However, on this day, visitors from near and far gave Robling's Ben Franklin rendition a thumb's up.

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