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AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Dolley Madison

Airs Monday, March 28, 2011 at 9:30 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Tony Award-nominee Eve Best (pictured) as Dolley Madison. Style icon, extravagant hostess, humanitarian, doting mother, trusted political advisor and diplomat - these are the roles now expected of a First Lady, roles defined by President James Madison's wife, Dolley.

Significant First Ladies

With her behind-the-scenes influence on political policy and her expansion of the expected role of the First Lady, Dolley Madison was one woman among many who broke new ground in the White House. Browse this gallery of other first ladies.

Dolley Madison lived through the two wars that established the U.S., was friends with the first 12 Presidents, and watched America evolve from a struggling young republic to the first modern democracy in the world.

She was nicknamed “Queen Dolley,” and when she died in 1849 at the age of 81 — one of the last remaining members of the founding generation — Washington City honored her with the largest state funeral the capital had ever seen for a woman.

"Dolley Madison" features Tony Award-nominee Eve Best ("Nurse Jackie") as Dolley Madison and Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays as James Madison ("I Am My Own Wife").

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Preview: American Experience: Dolley Madison

Above: "Dolley Madison" features Tony Award-nominee Eve Best (Nurse Jackie) as Dolley Madison and Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays as James Madison ("I Am My Own Wife").

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Dolley Madison: Deleted Scene - Women's History

Above: This deleted scene from "Dolley Madison" features NPR senior news analyst Cokie Roberts and historian Catherine Allgor discussing why we should study history through the eyes of women to get a fuller picture of life in the past.

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Video Extra: Dolley Madison Costumes

Above: A day in the life of "Dolley Madison" costume designer Candice Donnelly, who describes her experience researching, designing, and making Dolley's wardrobe come alive for this production.