With a degree in photojournalism from the Newhouse School of Syracuse University, and experience as a corporate fellow for 25+ years, Dean Malissa was engaged in the world of business but was not of the world of business. He credits his experience in sales and marketing as his training ground for acting. Mr. Malissa’s theater credits include five productions at the Walnut Street Theatre, as well as industrial films and commercials. Auditioning for the Liberty Tones (Malissa sings basso to baritone), Dean was introduced by American Historical Theatre’s Kim Hanley to AHT Founders William and Pamela Sommerfield, for what Dean describes as arms-length mentoring. By February of 2001, Dean had begun leading musters, and had cobbled together George Washington history modules that reflected careful research. Mr. Sommerfield, the first, and only, historical interpreter of George Washington at Mount Vernon at that time, then introduced Mr. Malissa to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association as the General. About 2005, the mantle was being passed. Now, portraying George Washington is Dean Malissa’s full-time job.
At a commanding height of 6’5”, Dean Malissa is as tall, or taller, than Commander-in-Chief George Washington. Both men had reddish hair, and Malissa shares Washington’s ability to dance minuets, jigs and reels, as well as to ride. Mr. Malissa continues to add to his portrayal based on source, text and fact; and because he is adept at reading his audience, his portrayal is further enriched by audience interaction. Dean Malissa has portrayed George Washington at venues that include the White House’s East Room, Mount Vernon, National Archives, National Portrait Gallery, National Constitution Center, Liberty Hall, Valley Forge Historical Park, Independence National Historical Park, Mt. Rushmore, United Airlines to China, Deshler-Morris House, City Tavern, the Masons of Maryland, Trenton Patriot’s Week and Texas A&M.
Characters portrayed by Dean Malissa: