On-Air Highlights

The Roosevelts on WITF this Fall

Written by Fred Vigeant, Director of Programming and Promotions for TV and Radio | May 9, 2014 7:59 AM
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THE ROOSEVELTS: AN INTIMATE HISTORY

Ken Burns’s seven-part, 14-hour documentary weaves the stories of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of one of the most prominent and influential families in American politics. The series marks the first time their individual stories have been woven into a single narrative. This series will broadcast on WITF beginning Sunday September 14 at 8:00pm and continue every day through September 20. 

Episode One -Young Theodore Roosevelt transforms himself into a vigorous champion of the strenuous life and later becomes the youngest president in American history at 42. Franklin Delano Roosevelt follows his older cousin’s career and begins to think he might one day follow in his footsteps. 

Episode Two -President Theodore Roosevelt battles corporate greed, builds the Panama Canal and preserves American wilderness. FDR marries Eleanor Roosevelt, the daughter of Theodore’s brother, Elliott, and they begin a family. Offered a chance to run for the New York State senate, Franklin jumps at the chance.  

Episode Three - Theodore Roosevelt leads a Progressive crusade that splits his own party, undertakes an expedition into the South American jungle, campaigns for American entry into WWI – and pays a terrible personal price. Franklin masters wartime Washington as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, while Eleanor engages in war work. Teddy’s death provides Franklin with a golden opportunity.

Episode Four - Franklin Roosevelt runs for vice president in 1920. Stricken with polio, he spends seven years struggling without success to walk again, while Eleanor builds a personal and political life of her own. FDR returns to politics in 1928 and, as governor of New York, acts with such vigor and imagination during the first years of the Great Depression that the Democrats nominate him for president in 1932. 

Episode Five - Aimed at ending the Depression, FDR’s sweeping New Deal restores the people’s self-confidence and transforms the relationship between them and their government. Eleanor rejects the traditional role of first lady and becomes a sometimes controversial political force. As the decade ends, FDR questions whether to run for an unprecedented third term and how to deal with the rise of Hitler. 

Episode Six - FDR shatters the third-term tradition, struggles to prepare the country to enter World War II and after Pearl Harbor, helps set the course toward Allied victory. Meanwhile, Eleanor struggles to keep New Deal reforms alive in wartime and travels the Pacific to comfort wounded servicemen. FDR runs for a fourth term.  

Episode Seven - Frail and failing but determined to see the war through to victory, FDR wins re-election and begins planning for a peaceful postwar world, but a cerebral hemorrhage kills him at 63. After his death, Eleanor proves herself a shrewd politician and a skilled negotiator, as well as a champion of civil rights, civil liberties and the United Nations. When she dies in 1962, she is widely mourned. 

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