Ken Richters as Mark Twain was first brought to national acclaim in 1981. Following a sold-out engagement in Washington, D.C., television newscasters from across the country had great fun covering Twain's salty comments to members of the United States Congress. Since that time, the production has been performed more than 1500 times in all 50 states, Canada, and throughout Europe.
Ken Richters first began performing in the early 1970's as a singer and featured dancer with a number of regional theaters throughout New England. Since that time, he has displayed a unique blending of talents rarely seen in a single performer. A familiar face to television audiences around the country, he has been seen in a number of weekly series and made-for-television movies. His motion picture work includes a starring role in the award-winning independent film Jean, which was produced by the American Writer's Theater Foundation and Tom Fontana and filmed entirely on location at the Eugene O'Neill Center.
The millennium found Ken Richters as Mark Twain sharing the stage with another great American author, Tom Wolfe, as part of Harper's Magazine star-studded 150th Anniversary Gala celebration in New York. Following that performance, PBS had him provide the voice of Mark Twain for their controversial series Culture Shock - Challenging Art.
Between television and motion picture engagements, he has performed extensively in the legit end of show business, starring in such live stage productions Big River, Oklahoma, They're Playing Our Song, Promises Promises, Company, Man of La Mancha, George M, and The Man Who Came To Dinner. He recently made his "operatic" debut receiving rave reviews in the featured role of "Frosch the Jailer" in Connecticut Opera's production of Die Fledermaus.
Well known for his considerable vocal range, he has become a favorite in the field of commercial and industrial performing. He has been the on-camera and live industrial spokesman for more than 50 large U.S. and European corporations, including the International Paper, IBM, Lloyds of London, and Sony. Television and radio commercial credits include Coca-Cola, Sears, Eggo Waffles, Kimberly Clark, AT&T, and Federal Express, and was the national commercial voice for A.J. Wright Stores - a division of the TJX Corporation for six years. He is also the featured narrator on more than 50 educational CD-ROMs for McGraw-Hill. Visitors to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. can hear Ken's work with Walter Cronkite narrating the history of Fast Attack Submarines.
In addition, Ken spends time each year working on a number of special projects. He has been the opening act for many show-business veterans including The Temptations, Vikki Carr, Robert Flack, the Smothers Brothers, and the late Laura Branigan and Henny Youngman; co-starred with Academy Award actress Nina Foch in her life's retrospective, An Evening with Nina Foch; and performed with Olympic Gold Medalist Oksana Baiul. He often works behind-the-scenes doing private coaching and consultation with corporate executives, politicians, and bestselling authors, to assist them in preparing for public appearances.
A collection of Ken's quotable quotes from various media interviews from around the country.
Dallas Morning News
Do you ever feel like you're Mark Twain during a performance? “Granted there is a fine line between schizophrenia and acting, but there is a fine line,” Richters explained. "The day I walk on stage thinking I’m Mark Twain is the day I’ve crossed the line and should be in a home.”
New York Times
“Have you heard? Mark Twain has had tougher acts to follow. An economist, banker and real estate broker had finished painting a dry, but rosy picture of the world, state and even local economy at Wednesday’s annual business breakfast, when actor Ken Richters as Mark Twain was introduced as a “special guest.” Twain looked at 400 or so business-like faces at the Sheraton Hotel and said, ‘If this is a good year, I don’t want to be near this place in a bad year.’”
“Ken Richters is a firm believer that the show must go on. Richters, who will be performing at URI Tuesday, was in Scranton, Pa., last Friday. He got to the theater more than three hours early to put on his make-up and ‘took a header’ down the stairs that led to his dressing room. He did a flip, he says, and landed on his face. Richters fractured three ribs, suffered a mild concussion and torn ligaments, but performed the show before heading for the emergency room. The next day he was off to Philadelphia for another performance. ‘When I began acting for a living,’ Richters said, ‘if you were lucky enough to get a job, you would get paid only if and when you worked. It was probably nothing more than financial desperation that kept me from ever missing a performance in the early days. Now,’ the actor explained, ‘Its probably pride. What began as the show must go on to pay the bills ... became the show must go on because of the tradition of having never missed a performance during my twenty plus years in show business.’”
Pittsburgh Post Gazzette
“Although Richters keeps Mark Twain out of his personal life, he has learned to think like the man on stage and can ad lib in character when necessary. For instance, minutes before going on stage at Brigham Young University in Hawaii, Richters was shown a rider to his contract which restricted him from swearing, smoking and talking about God. He walked onto the stage and in the raspy voice of Twain, read the contract to the audience. ‘Any of you that have read my books know that, according to this, I have nothing to say,’ he said. Then he sat down and stared at the crowd. ‘It seemed like three weeks of silence,’ he said, ‘before someone in the back row started to giggle, and before long the entire audience was laughing and clapping. Then a man in the front row, who I assumed was a church elder, smiled and threw up his hands,’ Richters said. ‘So I lit my cigar and went on with the show ... they invited me back the following year.’”
“None other than Mark Twain himself came to Hartford Friday to plead for money to fix up his home. Actor Ken Richters, dressed in a three-piece suit, stunned the crowed at the Legislative Office Building when he stood up and started talking about the historic Victorian mansion on Farmington Avenue. Gov. John G. Rowland and other top officials had been discussing various projects during the normally staid proceedings of the State Bonding Commission. Twain produced more laughter than at any time in recent memory ... Twain launched into an explanation of the state’s rising tourism business, noting that Rowland and his wife, Patricia, have appeared in television commercials that have touted the state. ‘It is because of the first lady, and in spite of your appearances,’ Twain said to Rowland as the crowd roared with laughter.”
“Hartford’s Mayor Mike Peters, ‘Mark Twain’ swap barbs during business pep rally... standing before the audience, Peters conceded the inevitable. ‘This is going to be a long morning. Call me Mr. Lucky,’ he said. ‘I’m debating a dead guy, and I’m about to get my ass kicked.’ ‘My foot’s not that big,’ Twain answered.”