The 2005 award-winning film “Warm Springs,” about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s struggle with polio, beginning in 1921, is available for streaming on Amazon Prime. It is well worth your time, not only as a portrait of one of America’s greatest presidents but as a portrait of America before any social safety net for the poor and disabled was established by FDR.
I learned that Roosevelt’s symptoms were more consistent with Guillain–Barré syndrome – an autoimmune neuropathy — than with polio. I also learned that FDR did not deliberately hide his disability from the public — his struggles were in fact used to illustrate that he had the character to be president and identified with the working class. Because of his disability, he proved he wasn’t just a callow and shallow rich kid, “born with a silver spoon in his mouth.”
- The Myth of FDR’s Secret Disability: “The press sometimes described his condition in great detail, and LIFE even published a picture of him in a wheelchair.”