A life-long resident of Philadelphia, Malissa has been a performer since childhood. After graduating with a degree in Communications, he entered the world of business – working his way from a junior salesman to the senior vice presidency of an international manufacturing firm. During those 25 years he traveled to all 50 states in America, every province in Canada, Mexico, much of Europe (including former Soviet Bloc countries), much of the Middle East and extensively in Asia. He happily and voluntarily left corporate America in 1999 and in “Act II” of his adult life – pursued acting as a profession. He has performed and continues to be cast in film, TV, commercial, radio, stage and voiceover productions although his historical portrayal of George Washington represents 95% of his work today.
This portrayal of Washington has proven to be one of the richest experiences in his life. It is often daunting, continually challenging, always interesting and humbling work. In December of 2000 he met William “Bill” Sommerfield. Bill was a respected George Washington scholar and portrayer. Until his retirement from performing in January 2007 Bill was the foremost historical interpreter of Washington. Bill had interpreted Washington throughout the world and was the first actor in American history to be approved to portray Washington at Mount Vernon– George Washington’s Estate and Gardens. The historical interpretive acting world lost its patriarch with Bill’s passing in September 2009.
Bill and his wife Pamela operated The American Historical Theatre – a wonderful non-profit organization “dedicated to the edifying and entertaining art of Historical Interpretation.” Back at the beginning of this century they were seeking an actor to portray a younger Washington… at the point in Washington’s life when he was the Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army. A colleague of both Dean and Bill brought them together and an interesting and mutually-beneficial collaboration began. With Bill’s expert guidance… Dean’s countless hours of reading, research and practice… Dean has, in the past years, become the leading portrayer of George Washington.
Dean is deeply honored to follow in Bill’s footsteps as the official and sole George Washington historical actor at Mount Vernon for the wonderful Mount Vernon Ladies Association, their dedicated staff members and Mount Vernon visitors. He has also portrayed General Washington in TV productions for PBS, The Discovery Channel, NBC, National Geographic Channel and the Showtime Network; appeared on CNN and in films for the National Park Service, Mount Vernon, the U.S. Navy, The Bill of Rights Institute and the National Flag Foundation. He has appeared at a State Dinner at The White House, the Smithsonian, the National Archives, National Portrait Gallery, Independence National Historical Park, Valley Forge National Historical Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the National Constitution Center, the Betsy Ross House, Liberty Hall, and many historical venues and societies throughout the original 13 states. He has also appeared in many of the remaining 37 states. As Washington, Dean has crisscrossed the nation from Arizona to Alabama from Michigan to Massachusetts. He even portrayed Washington in France and China. Dean is a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association.
When not “crossing the Delaware” Dean has pursued a wide range of avocations in his life including 22 years as a volunteer firefighter (working his way up to Deputy Fire Chief), a couple years as a crime lab photographer, advanced SCUBA diver certification, a 2nd degree black belt, stone sculpting, and treks by horse into the Teton and Gros Ventre wildernesses. He married his high-school sweetheart and he is blessed with two grown children who are off and running in their own exciting lives.