Second President of National Geographic, Husband and Innovator … Discover there is more to Bell than the Telephone.

Actor Rick Foucheux as Bell. Photo Credit Mark Thiessen
Actor Rick Foucheux as Bell. Photo Credit Mark Thiessen

This fall, the National Geographic Society is celebrating its fifth silver anniversary … Or two diamonds and a wood? For those of you unfamiliar with traditional gifts, that is 125 years of the golden rectangle.

National Geographic Live, the events and live performance division of National Geographic, has decided to celebrate this quasquicentennial by remembering a man important to the foundation of the Society and who has remained one of the biggest names in National Geographic history.

Nat Geo Live is kicking off its 2013–2014 season with BELL, a one-man play revealing the curious mind of inventor and National Geographic’s second president, Alexander Graham Bell.

“Alexander Graham Bell has a deep and personal connection with National Geographic, starting with his beloved wife, Mabel, who was the daughter of our first president and founder Gardiner Greene Hubbard,” said Gregory McGruder, vice president for Public Programs at National Geographic.

In addition to Bell’s connection to the Society, McGruder said the play was enticing because of its associated talent. Celebrated Washington actor and award-winning performer Rick Foucheux stars as Bell. He captivates the audience through his impassioned, solo performance that cleverly crosses barriers on stage and in time.  To prepare for the biographical role, Foucheux got hands on experience with inventions and memorabilia at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum (see the photo gallery here). BELL is directed by acclaimed international director Jeremy Skidmore and was written by journalist Jim Lehrer — yes, that Jim Lehrer.

Jim Lehrer with "Alexander Graham Bell" (Actor Rick Foucheux). Photo credit Michelle Maloney
Jim Lehrer with “Alexander Graham Bell” (Actor Rick Foucheux). Photo Credit Michelle Maloney

Playwright is the lesser known of Lehrer’s many roles, which include renowned journalist, author, frequent presidential debate moderator and executive director and former news anchor for PBS NewsHour. Besides BELL, Lehrer has written three plays, 20 novels, two memoirs and a nonfiction work about the presidential debates titled Tension City. His latest novel, Top Down, focuses on the Kennedy assassination and will be published this fall. In his National Geographic Weekend interview with Boyd Matson, below, Lehrer discusses how he captured Bell.


BELL explores the many dimensions of the famous scientist and innovator, who was best known as the inventor of the telephone. A loving husband, deeply committed family man, teacher of the deaf, holder of dozens of patents (who knows what some these wild ideas are?), rival of Thomas Edison and National Geographic Society president from 1898 to 1903, Bell’s legacy extends far beyond the telephone.

BELL will open in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, September 12, at National Geographic’s Grosvenor Auditorium — named for Bell’s son-in-law and third president of National Geographic, Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor. The show will close Saturday, September 21, with eight performances during its 10-day run. BELL tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by phone at (202) 857-7700 or online at


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Meet the Author
Caroline Gerdes recently graduated from Louisiana State University where she studied journalism and history (her major and minor, respectively). As a native of the Greater New Orleans Area, she decided to explore her own backyard with help from a Young Explorers Grant. Caroline is currently conducting an oral history project about the New Orleans Ninth Ward. She seeks to record the community’s full history — its immigrant beginnings, the development of jazz, the depression and prohibition, desegregation and hurricanes. Caroline’s exploration is also a personal quest as her father and paternal grandparents grew up in the Ninth Ward. Her blogs reflect an inside look at New Orleans life and culture, especially the edible aspects.