Saturday, January 30, 2016

Born Today January 30: FDR


So this may be a bit confusing.  FDR was a politician, right?  Not an actor.  True enough; but he did become one of the first politicians and "man of government" to take advantage of the new technology of film to promote government efforts. He was, of course, born Franklin Delano Roosevelt (which he personally pronounced in the proper Dutch fashion as "Roos-ah-veldt," not as "Rose-ah-velt" as most do today).  He was born in a Hyde Park home in New York state.  The family were as close to aristocracy as this country got.  He was also the distant cousin of the first Roosevelt in high office Theodore (Teddy).  In fact, they became more closely related after Franklin's marriage to Eleanor in 1904, when he was 23 and she was 21, as President Teddy Roosevelt--who gave her away at her weddin--was her uncle (her maiden name was the same as her married name).  After entering politics in 1910 on the state level (New York), he was by 1913 appointed Assistant Secretary to the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson.  In 1914 World War I broke out.  By 1916 he was actively campaigning for naval issues in regards to war, including arming the navy with more modern equipment and much more extensively than had been previously done.  The Germans then launched their submarine campaign in 1917; Roosevelt went to Wilson and asked permission to fit the naval fleet out for full war duty--the request was denied.  Roosevelt had by this time, developed a deep fascination with submarines.  [As an aside note:  submarines were not new to the U.S., as they were used in a very limited way in the Civil War.]  By the 1910's, newsreels had become a part of the movie going experience.  This exploded after the 1914 here in the U.S., because the country was not actively involved in a war the likes of which the country, or the world--for that matter--had ever seen before.  Citizens became anxious, and this catapulted the newsreel into extreme importance to the movie going public; they actually drove ticket sales for main features. People would attend showings just catch the latest in the news.  The first newsreel that Roosevelt appeared in was part of a series called the "Animated Weekly."  Roosevelt appeared as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in Animated Weekly, No. 31 in 1916; this included the christening of the U.S.'s "first undersea fighter" in Quincey, MA, which Roosevelt was present for (oddly enough, it also includes information about a great white shark--over 400 lbs.--caught off the shore in New England, blamed for the death of "five bathers."  This was the inspiration for the novel Jaws! [BTW, it had to be a bull shark--not a great white.]).  The next newsreel that he appeared as Assistant Secretary of the Navy came in a series called "Mutual Weekly."  He appeared, this time by name, in Mutual Weekly, No. 111 in 1917.  The description given, is that of him inspecting the the marine forces in Philadelphia.  This is the last of the silent Newsreels of him that exited, as far as anyone knows.  In 1924, the Lee De Forest Films company filmed him giving a speech nominating New York governor Al Smith as the Democratic candidate for President at the Democratic National Convention:  the little film was simply entitled Franklin D. Roosevelt Speech.  De Forest was one of the leading pioneers in early sound film; they had that same year, produced the first sound film that was shot at the White House.  They managed to get "Silent Cal," President Calvin Coolidge to make campaign speech in a garden (Rose Garden?) at the famous residence.  It was a first on many levels.  It has been called the first sound newsreel, but in reality it is the first sound campaign pitch or appeal to voters on the part of a campaigning politician (even if he is already the President).  Most importantly, it was the first time any president of the U.S. had spoken on film!  It still survives to this day and is preserved at the Library Of Congress.  The fate of the Roosevelt speech, on the other hand, is currently unknown.  Of course, FDR would go on to be the longest serving president in U.S. history; elected to office an unprecedented 4 times, serving between 1933 until his death in 1945, when he was succeeded by then vice-President Harry Truman.  Roosevelt succumbed to a massive cerebral hemorrhagic event (bleeding stroke) in Warm Springs, GA (a favorite resting place of his) on the 12th of April 1945.  On the 13 of April his flagged draped coffin was returned to the White House, in Washington D.C..  On the 14th his funeral was held there and his body was returned to Hyde Park in New York for burial.  He remains one of the earliest high ranking members of the federal government to show up on film.

For More:

No comments:

Post a Comment