A journalism professor at Franklin College revealed Tuesday that he’s discovered an ultra-rare film of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt being pushed in a wheelchair, revealing a disability that was at the time kept secret to most Americans.
Professor Ray Begovich said he found the eight-second film while doing research in the National Archives, according to The Associated Press. The footage does not show the chair, but FDR is clearly sitting as a man stands to his rear and moves him forward in a smooth motion.
Footage of FDR in a wheelchair is incredibly rare because of his determination to hide his disability, brought on by polio. In fact, scholars who spoke to the AP said the footage may be the only known film footage where FDR’s disability is apparent.
FDR went to great lengths to present himself in public either standing while bracing himself on something, or sitting in a chair with other officials. He also taught himself a way of walking with a minder and a cane, wearing braces under his trousers and moving his hips to swing his legs with each step.
The media at the time was complicit in keeping this from the public, as well. The 2012 film “Hyde Park on Hudson” depicted this with a scene in with actor Bill Murray, playing FDR, is carried like a child by a minder and placed in a chair as a gaggle of photographers stand by, not a one of them shooting until the president says he’s ready.
The AP also noted that reporters who weren’t of the mind to cooperate often found their vantage of the president blocked by Secret Service agents.
This video is from The Associated Press, published Wednesday, July 10, 2013.
[“Stock Photo: Outdoor View Of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial In Washington Dc” on Shutterstock.]