Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt struggled to overcome an unhappy childhood, betrayal in her marriage, a controlling mother-in-law and gripping depressions–all the while staying true to her passion for social justice. This biography includes rare home movies, contemporary footage and reflections from Eleanor’s closest surviving relatives, as well as biographers Blanche Wiesen Cook, Allida Black and Geoffrey C. Ward, bringing to vibrant life one of the century’s most influential women.

Press Reviews

“If there’s ever been a better television biography of a public personality than Eleanor Roosevelt, a production for PBS American Experience series, I haven’t seen it or heard about it. Eleanor achieves an almost perfect balance between the epic sweep of her high-profile public life and the intimate and psychologically acute detailing of her private life. But its greatest virtue is the depth of understanding it brings to her inner struggles and how she dealt with and often mastered her childhood suffering, blistering self-doubts, troubling bouts of depression, and yearning for emotional intimacy.”
—The Boston Globe

“Forget televion’s assembly-line biographies and cheap films designed to exploit headlines of the moment. That was yesterday. Tonight is one of those times when the medium takes seriously its role as the nation’s historian.

“One occasion is an elegant and aching documentary about Eleanor Roosevelt for ‘The American Experience’ that runs 2 and a half simply captivating hours on PBS. To quote her husband’s first presidential campaign slogan: ‘Happy days are here again.’…

“Narrated by Alfre Woodard, this fabulous new biography from Sue Williams and Kathryn Dietz is adoring yet not always complimentary weaving through the mysterious shadows of Eleanor’s life without emerging entirely from the dark.”
—The Los Angeles Times


A film by Ambrica Productions, Inc. in association with American Experience.

Written and Directed by: Sue Williams
Produced by: Kathryn Dietz
Editor: Howard Sharp
Associate Producer: Hilary Klotz
Narrator: Alfre Woodard
Composer: Tom Phillips
Senior Creative Consultant: Geoffrey Ward
Executive Producer for Ambrica Productions: Judith Vecchione

Funding provided by the Filmmakers Collaborative.
Additional funding provided by Albert Kunstadter Family Foundation, New York Council for the Humanities, Stewart R. Mott Charitable Trust, Andrew Wolff, Harburg Foundation and Louise Noun.