What would Ben Franklin say about the way fans respond to movie stars when they appear on the red carpet at the Academy Awards?
Here’s what he’d say: “Tis the price of fame.”
In future blogs, I’ll discuss Ben Franklin’s interesting relationships with certain French women while he represented the United States at the Court of Louis XVI. He was, at the time, a widower for 10 years and sought the companionship of several notable French ladies.
French women greatly admired Benjamin Franklin. They treated him the same way today’s groupies behave when the object of their fantasies makes a live appearance.
Franklin never objected to this veneration.
At one soiree, it’s said, 300 French women mobbed Franklin, placing a laurel wreath on his head and having the prettiest of them kiss our nation’s first ambassador on the cheeks.
A Franklin neighbor noted that women “flocked to see him, to speak to him for hours on end without realizing that he did not understand much of what they said because of his scant knowledge of our language.” The neighbor also remarked that Franklin “greeted each of them with a kind of amiable coquettishness that they loved.”
Whenever a French damsel asked Franklin if he liked her the most, the great scientist offered a Newtonian reply, “Yes, when you are closest to me, because of the force of attraction.”
On October 25, 1779, Franklin, responding to his sister’s inquiry about his friendship with French women, wrote:
Perhaps few strangers in France have had the good fortune to be so universally popular … This popularity has occasioned so many paintings, busto’s, medals and prints to be made of me, and distributed throughout the Kingdom, that my face is now almost as well known as that of the moon. But one is not to expect being always in fashion. I hope, however, to preserve, while I stay, the regard you mention of the French ladies, for their society and conversation when I have time to enjoy it, is extremely agreeable.