There are lots of things I admire about Eleanor Roosevelt: she was 5-feet-11-inches (like me!). She ignored the fact that in the 1920s, women were expected to settle for being quiet housewives, choosing instead to open a furniture factory in New York to provide work for the unemployed; become a co-owner of Todhunter, an all-girls private school; volunteer for the Red Cross; campaign for women’s rights; and be the voice and physical presence for her husband (Franklin D. Roosevelt) after his polio left him crippled in 1921. She was decades ahead of her time in her views on racial equality.
And that was all before she was First Lady.
To say Eleanor revolutionized the role of First Lady would be to greatly undersell her accomplishments, which included creating the National Youth Administration, empowering the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and organizing volunteers for World War II as the assistant director of the Office of Civilian Defense, among other things.
After FDR passed away and Eleanor left the White House, she remained politically active as a U.N. delegate, helping establish the state of Israel and even attempting negotiations with the Soviet Union.
She was, for lack of a better term, a total rockstar.
So it only makes sense that a well-loved television and theater star would portray Eleanor at the Fitzgerald Theater on Saturday, September 8. Loretta Swit, the Broadway and Emmy Award-winning actress who portrayed “Hot Lips Houlihan” on M*A*S*H, takes on Rhonda Lerman’s one-woman play that documents Eleanor’s journey from the White House to the U.N.
If you saw Ed Asner as FDR last year, this will be the “part two” of the Roosevelt story. If you didn’t, consider it an insight into the life of one of the most powerful, impactful women in U.S. history.
Either way, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.
Eleanor: Her Secret Journey
Saturday, September 8
Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul