New Film Footage Shows Private World of Franklin D. Roosevelt

You can see FDR at an outdoor gathering with his wife.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
(Library of Congress)

A new clip offers a glimpse into Franklin D. Roosevelt’s life. In the clip, you can see the president sitting by his wife at an outdoor gathering in 1934, a beer mug resting on his table, and several people lounging nearby as he holds court. His sleeves are rolled up and he’s wearing his glasses as he reads aloud from a book, chuckling at passages. The segment comes from a trove of historic film, mostly home movies, that have been made available by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, in Hyde Park, New York.

Most of the footage of one of the most illustrious and enigmatic men to occupy the White House has never been seen. The Washington Post writes that they capture rare images of the president by the poolside, unconcerned that his legs, emaciated from polio, are clearly visible. There is also footage of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her friends ice skating.

The films were donated last year by the family of Marguerite A. “Missy” LeHand, the woman behind the camera in many of the shots. She was FDR’s longtime aide and rumored lover. The shots of her are fleeting, but she does pop up. LeHand is the one who got the call on Sept. 1, 1939 that the Germans had invaded Poland, starting World War II. She was raised by an Irish American family and began working for FDR in 1920. She quickly became his “indispensable assistant, go-between and White House gatekeeper,” according to The Post. 

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