Rare Footage of FDR Walking Donated to PA Museum

Only one other video in existence shows FDR walking.

An image of Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking. (Photo courtesy of Commonwealth Media Services)
An image of Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking. (Photo courtesy of Commonwealth Media Services)
A rare film of Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking was screened Thursday at the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg.

The film was donated to the commonwealth by the family of Jimmie DeShong, a Major League Baseball pitcher and Harrisburg native who shot the film in 1937. DeShong played for the Philadelphia Athletics, New York Yankees and Washington Senators.

President Roosevelt was paralyzed from the waist down by polio in 1921. The film from 1937 shows him wearing braces on his legs and holding on to an assistant and a handrail as he walks up a ramp at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C.

The film shot by DeShong and donated to the commonwealth is incredibly rare -- only one other video in existence shows FDR walking. 

The film was donated to the Pennsylvania State Archives by DeShong’s daughter, Judith Savastio. 

“Her generous donation is allowing the world to see something it has never seen before," First Lady and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commissioner Susan Corbett said. "This unique look at Franklin Delano Roosevelt gives us a better understanding of his physical struggles and his courage and strength in leading our country through difficult times despite personal challenges.” 

Filmmaker Ken Burns plans to use the footage in his upcoming documentary “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History," which will air Sept. 14 on PBS.

"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,” Burns said. “The President wanted to minimize the public's knowledge of the devastating effects polio had had on him -- he was completely paralyzed from the waist down and he could not walk without the aid of a cane and braces on both legs. The press in those days complied with his request not to be filmed.”  

The Truth May 15, 2014 at 11:15 PM
Get one of him running and it'll go for 1 mill easy...
Garrett McDaniel May 16, 2014 at 01:30 PM
The video won't load.
The Truth May 16, 2014 at 04:47 PM
The video can't run? Maybe it too caught polio...
Nostromo May 17, 2014 at 07:07 AM
It's easy to forget (or for that matter to not be aware of it at all) just how beloved FDR was to Americans of that era. When President Roosevelt died in April of '45 people wept openly in public.
WallyB May 18, 2014 at 11:36 PM
We were given a lot from this great President, including his struggle with a debilitating disease that his funding let Jonas Salk and others eventually conquer for the succeeding generations.


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