Eleanor and Franklin

Eleanor and Franklin

VHS cover
Based on Eleanor and Franklin
by Joseph P. Lash
Written by James Costigan
Directed by Daniel Petrie
Starring Edward Herrmann
Jane Alexander
Theme music composer John Barry
Country of origin United States
Executive producer(s) David Susskind
Producer(s) Audrey Maas
Harry R. Sherman
Editor(s) Michael Kahn
Running time 240 minutes
Production company(s) Talent Associates
Distributor HBO (2013, DVD)
Original network ABC
Original release January 11 – 12, 1976
Followed by Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years (1977)

Eleanor and Franklin is a 1976 American television miniseries starring Edward Herrmann as Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and Jane Alexander as Eleanor Roosevelt which was broadcast on ABC on January 11 and 12, 1976. It is the first part in a two-part "biopic" miniseries (with a later sequel telecast the following year) based on Joseph P. Lash's biography and history from 1971 with the same title (and longer additional sub-title) based on their correspondence and recently opened archives. Joseph Lash was Eleanor's personal secretary and confidant (occasional alleged rumors also of an intimate relationship). He wrote several books on the Roosevelts including some on both Eleanor and Franklin individually and was also a controversial activist in his own right in leftist, liberal politics, social and labor issues of the era.

Directed by Daniel Petrie, the film follows the lives of President Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor told in flashback from her perspective after her husband's death, from the time they were children as cousins who met briefly, their courtship and marriage, bearing and raising a large family, her social efforts as he rises to Assistant Secretary of the Navy in World War I, the hidden affair with Lucy Mercer, (1891-1948), (portrayed for the first time by actress Linda Kelsey), her help and encouragement with his famous bout with the affliction of polio, and her campaigning with Louis Howe, (1871-1936), their mentor, crony and campaign manager during his runs for political offices in the New York state legislature, the unsuccessful effort for Vice President in 1920, later winning as Governor of New York and his rivalry with fellow politician Al Smith, (1873-1944), until his election to the Presidency in 1932 in the darkest times faced by the nation since the Civil War with the deepening "Great Depression".

A second film miniseries, Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years (1977), was made the following year which detailed Roosevelt's terms as President in the "Great Depression" and World War II eras, told as a series of flash-back episodes as Eleanor sits with her husband's body in the back bedroom during a legendary private moment in the cottage, the "Little White House" in Warm Springs, Georgia, on April 12, 1945.

The film won numerous awards, including 11 Primetime Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and the Peabody Award. The director Daniel Petrie, (1920-2004), won for Director of the Year – Special, as he would again the next year with "The White House Years". The film is noted for being almost entirely historically accurate.



Eleanor and Franklin was released on DVD by HBO Video on May 21, 2013 as a two-disc set with Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years featured on the second disc.

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