Episode Information

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: FDR-The Center of The World / Fear Itself
Aired:
05/12/2008
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In this episode:

FDR's 1st political campaing, his affair with Lucy Mercer, his bout with polio & becoming President of the United States.

 


FDRFranklin Delano Roosevelt

American Experience

FDR-The Center of The World / Fear Itself

Aired Monday, May 12, at 9:00 p.m. on CPTV

"Here, packed into 4-1/2 hours. Is an impressionable, often startlingly vivid portrait of the political career of the century.” The Wall Street Journal

As president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a remarkably popular figure. His radio “Fireside Chats” went into millions of living rooms across the country; his picture hung on the walls of countless homes and businesses; his wife was the most admired woman in America. Since his death over six decades ago, FDR, the man who led America successfully through the twentieth century’s two great crises—the Depression and World War II—has been transformed from personality to icon.

“The Center of the World” explores Roosevelt’s family background and education, looking for clues to the coddled rich child’s ascent to political success. It follows him from his very first run for political office as New York state senator through his years in Washington as assistant secretary of the navy, as he pursues the highest office in the land. This segment also tells the story of FDR’s courtship of his distant cousin, Eleanor Roosevelt, and their troubled marriage, including FDR’s affair with Eleanor’s social secretary, Lucy Mercer. The affair, which nearly ended the marriage, encouraged Eleanor to embrace a life of her own and become politically active. The second segment, “Fear Itself,” begins with Roosevelt’s bout with polio at age 39 and follows his relentless struggle to rehabilitate his body and his seemingly moribund political career, and to teach himself to appear to walk. The section also paints a portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt as she makes a life of her own, developing her own political skills while keeping her husband’s name before the public through her involvement in reform causes. A remarkable sequence of events leads FDR back from despair to win his party’s nomination as president of the United States. Catapulted into the White House, a man who could not walk begins to lead a country crippled by the Great Depression. visit the website...


 
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