In September 1918, Eleanor Roosevelt discovers the love letters that her husband Franklin (pictured) is writing to her secretary, Lucy Mercer.
Franklin and Lucy
written by Jackie RoseEleanor demands a divorce, and her husband is glad to agree. However, his mother Sara warns him that a divorce will ruin his political career. Ignoring her warning, he listens to his heart and marries his mistress.
He has no way of knowing that, in giving up his ambitions, he has also saved himself from a lifetime spent in a wheelchair, due to infantile paralysis. He would probably have been infected during a trip to a Boy Scout camp .. but having abandoned his political ambitions, he has no reason to go there. Instead, he spends his time in law courts, keeping socially connected criminals out of jail.
His son Elliot, however, soon starts following in his father's political footsteps. At his mother's urging, he successfully runs for Governor of New York in 1929. When the Depression strikes, he followed her advice again by launching the state's social welfare programs. As a result, he wins the presidency in 1932 and his national version of the programs he ran in New York become the New Deal.
She guides him in both peace and war, with projects including the Lend Lease act. It allows Britain to fight Hitler, until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brings America into the war. His father Franklin does contribute some memorable phrases to Elliot's famous speeches, such as "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" and "Yesterday, Dec. 7, a day that will live in infamy ... " But the president's proud father carefully remains in the background.
Eleanor cannot, however, save President Elliot Roosevelt from scandal, when he divorces his second wife to marry Faye Emerson, a glamorous TV star. His mother must have reflected bitterly that this was a very clear case of "like father, like son".