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The Storm (1920-1933) 

FDR's battle with polio. Eleanor's independence and political activism. Political division within the Roosevelt clan. FDR returns to politics in a big way. The Great Depression ends the Roaring Twenties. Assassin targets FDR.


Ken Burns




Episode credited cast:
Jonathan Alter ... Himself
Keith Carradine ... (voice)
Patricia Clarkson ... Margaret 'Daisy' Suckley (voice)
Kevin Conway ... (voice)
Blanche Wiesen Cook Blanche Wiesen Cook ... Herself
Calvin Coolidge ... Himself (archive footage)
James M. Cox ... Himself (archive footage)
Peter Coyote ... Narrator (voice)
Marion Dunn Marion Dunn ... Himself
Paul Giamatti ... Theodore Roosevelt (voice)
Doris Kearns Goodwin ... Herself
Warren G. Harding ... Himself (archive footage)
Ed Harris ... (voice)
Edward Herrmann ... Franklin Roosevelt (voice)
Herbert Hoover ... Himself (archive footage)


Franklin Roosevelt was nominated as the vice presidential candidate for the 1920 election. He campaigned vigorously and was joined by Eleanor who, along with all other women, were going to vote for the first time. Although the Republican Warren G, Harding won the election, FDR was seen to have done well and was well placed to gain the presidential nomination in 1924. In August 1921 however, FDR fell ill while at his summer retreat on Campobello island in Canada. Doctors had great difficulty determining the exact nature of the disease - he suffered from high fevers and had lost the use of his legs - but eventually realized he had polio. His medical treatment was painful and any progress was very slow in coming. Eleanor wrote that that winter was the most trying of her life. Eleanor took on a more important public role in 1922 and Franklin returned to work on October 1922 - but having fallen trying to the into the elevator didn't return for months. At the 1924 Democratic convention he ... Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

17 September 2014 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films See more »
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Pretty much an episode about how Franklin's life really sucked in the 1920s....yet by 1933 he was the president!
21 December 2015 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This entire episode is about Eleanor and Franklin, as by the time the show began, Teddy's enthusiasm for politics had waned...since he was dead.

As for Franklin, in the very early 20s he contracted polio and much of the show is about his fruitless battle to beat the disease. However, using his strength of character, he threw himself into trying to beat it...as well as projecting a positive public image. Eventually, he was to return to public life and was in charge of the 1924 presidential campaign as well as making very important speeches for the Democratic nominee. Then, in 1928 when Al Smith ran for president, Franklin unexpectedly not only ran for Smith's office but took it seriously and was an extremely popular governor--so popular that he was in a great position to run for president in 1932. The episode ends with his election...huzzah!

As for Eleanor, the 1920s marked a HUGE break with Franklin and as Franklin dealt with his polio, she embarked in public service campaigns as well as creating a life independent of her husband. I don't know if it was intended, but the show seemed to imply that Eleanor was extremely close to some of her lady friends...very close. They never said she was gay or a bisexual, though I am sure many viewers assumed that when they read some of Eleanor's very tender letters to one of her lady friends.

Overall, an inspiring but sad episode. While both Roosevelts seemed to blossom, they did so completely separately and seemed to have their own respective lives. Another very well made episode by Ken Burns and his crew. Educational, interesting and well made.

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