Beloved Benjamin Franklin impersonator Ralph Archbold is on the mend after suffering a stroke earlier this week.

Archbold, 67, was alert and cracking jokes yesterday at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, said longtime friend J. Nathan Bazzel, a Thomas Jefferson impersonator.

"He keeps asking for a New York strip steak and Diet Coke, which they're not letting him have," Bazzel said.

Archbold suffered the stroke Wednesday morning while he was at home with his wife, Linda Wilde, a noted Betsy Ross impersonator.

Bazzel said Archbold was taken to Riddle Memorial Hospital in Middletown Township, Delaware County, then airlifted to HUP. Doctors yesterday were still running tests on Archbold to determine the severity of the stroke.

"He's optimistic," Bazzel said. "He's looking forward to getting back to work."

Archbold has portrayed Franklin for decades, performing for U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries and countless visitors to Philadelphia.

While hospitalized, he has been fretting over performances he's missing out on, Bazzel said.