Saturday, May 17, 2014

Polio video

The image above is one of only three known to exist of the 32nd president of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt in a wheelchair. He was diagnosed with poliomyelitis at the age of 39, but the extent of his paralysis was kept from the public. But now an even rarer glimpse of history has surfaced. Jimmie DeShong of the Philadelphia Athletics was in Washington, D.C., to pitch for the 1937 All Star game, which the president attended. Using his 8 mm home movie camera, he captured footage of Lou Gehrig and other players, but also several seconds of Roosevelt climbing a ramp with the help of the handrail, an assistant, and the braces he wore. DeShong's daughter has donated the film to the Pennsylvania State Archives just in time for filmmaker Ken Burns to include it in his new documentary. Burns comments, "We were thrilled with the discovery of a new piece of film footage of Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking. Any film of him struggling to get from one place to another is extremely rare, as the Secret Service either prohibited or confiscated cameras whenever FDR was making an attempt to propel himself from his car to anywhere else."

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