Ken Burns Brings “The Roosevelts” To Television

Author: Bill Dudley

Documentary producer Ken Burns who brought us the groundbreaking successful miniseries “The Civil War” in 1990, “Baseball” in 1994, “Jazz” (2001) and “The National Parks” in 2009, has dug deep into the history of one of America’s most influential families, “The Roosevelts.”

Ken appeared in person recently at downtown LA’s beautiful and historic United Artists Theater for a sample screening of highlights from all seven episodes of the 14 hour series which starts this Sunday night (Sept. 14) on PBS. Burns has always been fascinated by this complex and diverse group of siblings, and has covered parts of their lives previously in several of his other documentaries. It took eleven years to assemble “The Roosevelts.” I can’t wait to watch it.

The fourteen hour presentation covers all three of “The Roosevelts” (Theodore, Franklin AND Eleanor) over more than 100 years from the birth of the man who would become our 26th President (Theodore) in 1858, up through the death of Eleanor in 1962. Each was unique in their personalities and actions. Each was also truly dedicated to public service, hoping they could make the United States (and the world) just a little bit better.

Theodore was a very progressive Republican who fought big corporations, and created what would become the National Park Service. Franklin was a Democrat, who was elected as our 32nd President an unprecedented four times. Franklin’s Presidency was challenged with one of the most turbulent eras in American history, The Great Depression and World War II. Franklin not only changed the relationship Americans had with their government, he redefined America’s place in the global world.

First lady Eleanor Roosevelt was not only Franklin’s wife, she was his 5th cousin. Her staunch fight for Civil Rights and women’s issues were unprecedented for a First Lady.

Like all Ken Burns specials, you will definitely learn many things you didn’t know about “The Roosevelts.” Eleanor, Theodore, and Franklin were all polarizing figures. Many appreciated and loved the way they forged change, and many also hated them for it.

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