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Encore Presentation: Interview With David B. Roosevelt, Mike Wallace

Aired January 5, 2003 - 21:00   ET


ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, FMR. FIRST LADY: I'm intensely anxious to preserve the freedom that gives you the right to think and to act and to talk as you please. That I think is essential to happiness and life of the people.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, she was one of the most famous first ladies in U.S. history, and so much more. Eleanor Roosevelt, target of enough would-be assassins, she had packed a pistol in her purse, and the eyes and the ears for America's only four-term president, her husband of 57 years, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and what a soap opera marriage they had.

Tonight, Eleanor and Franklin's grandson, David B. Roosevelt, joins us, along with Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes" who conducted a rare one-on-one interview with her. Meet the Eleanor Roosevelt the world never knew. Next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.


KING: An extraordinary book, just published his "Grandmere", a personal history of an extraordinary lady, "A Personal History of Eleanor Roosevelt". Mike Wallace of CBS "60 Minutes" is the co- editor. He wrote the introduction for this book.

MIKE WALLACE, CBS NEWS, "60 MINUTES": I'm not the co-editor.

KING: Oh you're the co-editor of "60 Minutes"...

WALLACE: That's right...

KING: So I read it wrong. All you did was write the introduction and know the lady and...

WALLACE: Correct.

KING: ... read the book. OK.


KING: Every time I try top him, every time they pull the age on you and something. And David B. Roosevelt, the grandson of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, is the author of this book written with Manuela Dunn-Mascetti.

And for openers, I knew David's father very well, Elliott Roosevelt -- knew him when he was mayor of Miami Beach and I was working in that city.

Tell me a little history. At first, grandmere, what does that mean?

DAVID B. ROOSEVELT, FDR AND ELEANOR'S GRANDSON: Frankly, it means grandmother and my grandmother spoke French before she ever spoke a word of English. And she spoke French all of her life and spoke French at home. Normally with my father's generation, not with mine so much.

KING: Hard to believe that Eleanor Roosevelt is dead now 40 years. She died November 7, 1962. The book published in kind of commemoration with that anniversary.

D. ROOSEVELT: Well it just happened to be that way.

KING: There have been other books about her. What does this one bring, Mike?

WALLACE: A grandson's view of his - this is a wonderful book. I believe - I mean a wonderful book with pictures and with understandings and it's a very frank book. I was surprised when I read it. I mean if you want to know about Lucy Rutherford.

KING: The girlfriend?


KING: We'll get into that.

WALLACE: Not hers, the president's.


KING: But there were rumors about her -- we're going to - we're going to plan on it. We touch every base, Wallace...


WALLACE: You see this is all tabloid...


KING: Like "60 Minutes", we learn from them. We follow people down the streets, throw mikes in their faces.

What prompted you to write it and why now?

D. ROOSEVELT: Well, I was prompted to write it because I've read so many really excellent biographies that other historians, scholars, have written about her. But, frankly, they did not portray, I felt, the more personal side of this very public person and particularly not from the standpoint in a way that I knew her as my grandmother. And so I decided that I really wanted to do that.

KING: And I see this...


KING: Is a signature she wrote to you, right David on the...


KING: ... cover...


KING: My grandmother, love from grandmere.


KING: Grandmere. OK, You - I will just - I leave myself out of this, but I did interview her once, arranged by your father when he was mayor of Miami Beach. It was an extraordinary interview. She - and there was a story once in "Esquire" where they traced egos and people. How often do people speak before referring to self? Eleanor Roosevelt topped the list of over four hours...

D. ROOSEVELT: Without mentioning her name...


KING: Without use the word "I", right? You interviewed her, did you not?

WALLACE: Yes, back in 1957.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The Mike Wallace Interview".


KING: What was the occasion?

WALLACE: It was the "Mike Wallace Interview" on ABC and I had - I had known her a little bit. She -- back in the days when Ted Yates and I were doing "Night-Beat"...

KING: My favorite show.

WALLACE: ... 1956. She gave me and him our first Emmy 45 years ago.

KING: She was a presenter?

WALLACE: She was the presenter. And...

(CROSSTALK) WALLACE: ...I followed her around, obviously, and I talk a little bit about it in the introduction. I followed her around, but I had and have such admiration for this extraordinary woman, citizen of the world and that's the truth about her. She...

KING: How old were you when she died?

WALLACE: I was 20 when she died.

KING: So...

WALLACE: I knew her...


WALLACE: Oh yes...

KING: Formative years.


KING: Was she a close grandmother?

D. ROOSEVELT: Extremely close. In fact, her grandchildren were really the core of her life. She was obviously surrounded by the famous, the powerful, but her grandchildren were what she really felt were the inner strength of her family.

KING: Do you have any memories of your grandfather?

D. ROOSEVELT: My memories, no. My memories of my grandfather, I was just about 4 when he died. And, you know, they're child's memories. I remember the White House more than I remember my grandfather.

KING: You do...

D. ROOSEVELT: I was really impressed with the right things.

KING: Was -- would you describe her, Mike, as cold?

WALLACE: Eleanor Roosevelt?

KING: The way she looked, you know...


KING: ... people thought of her, they look at her now, they look at others and they said boy, she looks haughty.

WALLACE: She looks like the elegant person that she was, but the last word that I would...

KING: What would be words that best describe her? Would you call her passionate?

WALLACE: Oh, she was passionate, yes.

KING: I mean her delivery wasn't -- she wasn't the kind of...

WALLACE: Well, she had that - you know people...

KING: She had elegance.

WALLACE: She had elegance, but she -- people made fun of her voice.


WALLACE: You know what I mean?


WALLACE: And you remember - and she guided herself into trouble. She took on trouble. Remember when she decided that she was going to do "My Day"...


WALLACE: ... column?

KING: "My Day" tore things up. I mean "My Day" wasn't...


KING: ... buy war bonds.


WALLACE: Did you know Westbrook Pegler?

KING: Never met him. Hated him but never met him.

WALLACE: Hated him, but never met him. Well I -- in that interview I said Mrs. Roosevelt, perhaps your most severe critic is Westbrook Pegler. He once wrote this about you. He said this woman is a political force of enormous ambitions. She is a menace, unscrupulous as the truth, vain, cynical, all with a pretense of exaggerated kindness and human feeling which deceives millions of gullible persons. I said that to her.

KING: What did she say?

WALLACE: She said...


E. ROOSEVELT: It seems to me a little exaggerated, let us say. No one could be quite as bad as all that. And as far as political ambition goes, I think that rather answered itself because I've never run for office, and I've never asked for an office of any kind. So I can't have much political ambition, but I can see that Mr. Pegler probably believes all of these things. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: She was - I mean, she did it...

KING: Westbrook Pegler was right of right...


KING: Great sports writer, though.

WALLACE: And I suppose one does things unconsciously that make you seem like that.


E. ROOSEVELT: And perhaps I do seem like that to him. And I think it must be terrible to hate as many things as Mr. Pegler hates. And I would be unhappy, I think, and, therefore, I'm afraid that he is unhappy, and I'm sorry for him because, after all we all grow older and we all have to live with ourselves. And I think that must sometimes be difficult for Mr. Pegler.


WALLACE: Can you think of a better...

KING: Put-down?

WALLACE: Exactly.

KING: Brilliantly done.


KING: ... puts you away when she said it.

WALLACE: Yes, it's exactly right.


WALLACE: I couldn't believe.

KING: Our guests are Mike Wallace and David B. Roosevelt. Mr. Wallace wrote the forward. Mr. Roosevelt co-authored the book. The book is "Grandmere, a - "Grandmere"...

D. ROOSEVELT: Grandmere.

KING: A - was I good then -- you got it right. "A Personal History of Eleanor Roosevelt". Back with more after this.


E. ROOSEVELT: Just as the Marines were ordered to leave Guadalcanal, an officer found a private feeling very sad, looking very depressed, and he said what's the matter with you? And he said oh, I just can't go home. I haven't shot a Jap.

And so the officer said listen, I'll tell you what to do. Well you go up to that ridge over there and jump up, all of a sudden and say the hell with your (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and they'll jump up, other people all around and if you shoot first, you will get a Jap.

So he came by a little while later and the Marine was still looking very gloomy and he said did you do what I told you to do and yes sir, yes, I ran up there and I did just what you told me to do and I said the hell with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and they jumped up just as you told me they would, but they all shouted the hell with Roosevelt. I couldn't shoot a fellow Republican.




WALLACE: Mrs. Roosevelt, I'm sure that you understand the sense in which I put this question to you, but I think that you will agree that a good many people hated your husband. They even hated you.

E. ROOSEVELT: Oh yes, a great many do still.

WALLACE: Why? Why?

E. ROOSEVELT: Well, if your take stands in any way and people feel that you have any success in a following, why those who disagree with you are going to feel very strongly about it.


KING: How much, David, did she change the way first ladies were up to her?

D. ROOSEVELT: Oh, I think that, Larry, I think that she set a course for future first ladies. That for them to become involved in issues, to take stands of their own, and I think every first lady, since my grandmother has.

KING: Because Mrs. Lincoln, she was - she would kind of lost it...


KING: ... right?


KING: And Mrs. Wilson tried to control the government...


KING: ... when Woodrow Wilson got sick...


KING: But there has never been, was there, Mike, an impacting first lady. She'd be the most famous first lady of all time right now.

WALLACE: Oh I think so, yes.

KING: If you polled anyone...

WALLACE: Absolutely.

KING: ... recent because she was around so long or other things.

WALLACE: Because her husband was crippled and because during that war time, I don't know that you agree with this, David, because she became to a certain degree his eyes and ears.


WALLACE: She traveled overseas. She got involved with civil rights and civil liberties.

KING: Before the terms were used.


WALLACE: Oh come now, you know, half century ago.

KING: Before her husband got involved.

WALLACE: Truly yes, yes. Because of her background, and she knew that she was controversial, and it didn't seem to phase her.

D. ROOSEVELT: No, no, no. She didn't care. She believed that if you have - if you have a belief and that belief is worth fighting for, then you fight for it, and she would not back down no matter what people said. No matter what people did. You know it's interesting I mention in here, but I just found out recently from Elita Black (ph), who also wrote a forward for this book, and she is an outstanding historian on my grandmother, and apparently, there were at least 19 attempts on my grandmother's life to assassinate her. The KKK put it highest bounty on her head.

KING: What kind of Secret Service protection did first ladies get?

D. ROOSEVELT: None. None.

WALLACE: Back then.

D. ROOSEVELT: Back then.

KING: So no - like she traveled, no one - no agent traveled with her.

D. ROOSEVELT: No. No, and J. Edgar Hoover after my grandfather died, tried to insist that she have some protection and she refused, flat refused him. And -- but he, therefore, insisted that she carry a gun, which she did. My grandmother carried a loaded pistol in her purse.

KING: Could have shot you that night, Mike.

WALLACE: Can you imagine? Astonishing.

KING: It is astonishing.

D. ROOSEVELT: But Hoover hated her. You know, she had the largest individual personal file at the FBI for years -- for years.

KING: And why did he hate her?

D. ROOSEVELT: Because he thought that she was a communist and a menace and...

KING: Sympathizer, and she stayed very active, didn't she? And we remember her for Adlai Stevenson...

WALLACE: That's right.

KING: ... bolted against Kennedy in 1960...


KING: ... led the movement to try to get Stevenson another nomination, she and Truman.


KING: How did she - there's a book now of letters...

WALLACE: Between Truman and her.

D. ROOSEVELT: And her...

WALLACE: I've not read it.

D. ROOSEVELT: I have not read it either. I've not...

KING: They claim that it's astounding some of...


KING: ... the things that they say to -- some of the things they liked about each other and didn't like...


KING: ... about each other...


KING: ... right? D. ROOSEVELT: Right.

KING: She had to be an imposing -- I remember when she came into the studio, what it was like when she walked into the TV - I'm remembering when she came into the studio - what was it like when she just walked into the TV - I mean she was not your everyday guest.

WALLACE: Correct. Have you been down to the Roosevelt Memorial down in Washington?


WALLACE: Four and a half acres, out of doors. It is - and there's a statue.


KING: Wheelchair - he's in a wheelchair...

WALLACE: No, no, yes, but hers. And she looks prim.


WALLACE: And not self-righteous and she was not that way...


WALLACE: ... at all and forbidding.

D. ROOSEVELT: About that statue at the FDR Memorial, which is so amazing, these are the patina on her statue has been worn off from people coming...


D. ROOSEVELT: ... and touch -- touching her face, touching her hands.

KING: Look how long it took to get that done.

D. ROOSEVELT: Oh 52 years. I was on the commission that built it.

KING: Where or how was there a marriage?

D. ROOSEVELT: Well, you know, Larry, after FDR's affair with Lucy Mercer was discovered by my grandmother, I would have to say that, frankly, there was no marriage, as we think of a marriage today, but rather they really began a partnership then and it was a partnership...

KING: She forgave him?

D. ROOSEVELT: I think that she forgave him to an extent. But at the very end, when he died, and of course she discovered the night of his death upon her arrival in Warm Springs that Lucy Mercer had been in Warm Springs with him when he died and that just shattered her.

KING: What did the press know and when did they know it, about Lucy Mercer?

WALLACE: That's a good question. You know something I really don't know. The...

D. ROOSEVELT: They didn't - they didn't...

KING: It was never reported, was it?


D. ROOSEVELT: Oh no, see he was...


KING: Well you would also think in a wheelchair, how would he...


KING: ... it wouldn't even enter your mind to think...

D. ROOSEVELT: He was assistant secretary of the Navy when he had that affair with Lucy Mercer. So although he was very visible as assistant secretary, there was not the press coverage.

WALLACE: His wife was...


WALLACE: ... up at Camp Abella (ph) at the time?

D. ROOSEVELT: No, he was actually -- had been on an inspection tour and came back very sick.

KING: Before he ran for the vice presidency...

D. ROOSEVELT: Right. Right.

KING: ... 1920.

D. ROOSEVELT: And my grandmother was unpacking his bags from that trip...


D. ROOSEVELT: ... and she discovered the letters that he had carried with him.

KING: So he had no affair with her during his presidency, but she was with him at the end?

D. ROOSEVELT: We can't say that.

KING: We don't know. D. ROOSEVELT: We know that FDR and Lucy Mercer continued a correspondence and toward the end she did -- they did have liaisons.

KING: We mentioned tabloids, Mike. What do you make of this now that we learn about Roosevelt, we learn about Eisenhower, vast amounts of material about Kennedy. Is this relevant?

WALLACE: It's relevant only - Clinton -- it's relevant only if it...

KING: Johnson.

WALLACE: Correct. But puritan America does not want to hear it -- puritan America. And you know and I know, we are not so puritan, they don't want to hear about it. As long as it doesn't interfere with the presidency. I...

KING: It's not relevant?

WALLACE: I don't think it's relevant. Do you?

KING: No, do not. Don't you agree, David?

D. ROOSEVELT: I agree -- I agree 100 percent.

KING: We'll be right back with Mike Wallace and David Roosevelt. The book is "Grandmere: A Personal History of Eleanor Roosevelt". What a great Christmas gift. We'll be right back.


E. ROOSEVELT: Every man who fights for us is in some way our man. His parents may be of any race or religion, but if that man dies, he dies side by side with all of his buddies. And if your heart is with any man, in some way it must be with all. All the men are our men, part of our United States, which they have saved, so that we can still call it the land of the free and the home of the brave.



KING: We're back with David Roosevelt and Mike Wallace. By the way, it's been driving me nuts all my life, Roosevelt or Roosevelt?

D. ROOSEVELT: Roosevelt. Think of a field of roses...

KING: Roses.

D. ROOSEVELT: ... which is what it means.

KING: He accepted both, right? I mean...


KING: He didn't like Roosevelt? D. ROOSEVELT: No, it's Roosevelt and there's a marvelous letter in this book from 1903. One of my cousins back then, corrected in the old "New York Sun" the proper pronunciation of the name.

KING: Before we touch a lot of other bases, let's get it over with these charges that she had a relationship with a woman.

D. ROOSEVELT: Larry, I don't think it's -- I can't say whether it's true or not. She had many, many close, close female friends. The thing that I point out in the book is that she was raised in a Victorian era when women were subjugated to their husbands and as a consequence, it was not unusual for women to form very close relationships, friendships, even affectionate friendships, with other women. And...

KING: Without it being tawdry?

D. ROOSEVELT: Without it being tawdry, right.

WALLACE: What I've often wondered about is Franklin Roosevelt's relationship with his mother. It never occurred to me that he was a mama's boy.

D. ROOSEVELT: Oh very much so -- very much so. In fact, when my grandmother discovered the affair with Lucy Mercer, she told my grandfather that she would divorce him, and his mother said to him, first of all, Lucy Mercer is a Catholic, she'll never marry you. Second of all, it would be the death nail of your political future and third of all, I will disinherit you.

KING: Other than that, go ahead.

D. ROOSEVELT: Yes, be my guest.

WALLACE: What kind of a person was Sara?

D. ROOSEVELT: Oh I think...

KING: Sara Delano, right.

D. ROOSEVELT: Sara Delano. She was a very domineering woman. She absolutely loved her husband, James, my grandfather's father. And -- but once he died, and he was exactly twice her age, and when he died, she took over the leadership, the helm at Hyde Park, at Springwood and that was it, and she was the matron of the manor.

KING: Was the Roosevelt marriage an arranged kind of thing?


KING: And explain the cousin aspect.

D. ROOSEVELT: Well they were fifth cousins and Eleanor was -- Eleanor Roosevelt before she married Franklin Roosevelt...

(CROSSTALK) D. ROOSEVELT: So she was Eleanor Roosevelt...

KING: She had her own name...


D. ROOSEVELT: That's right.

KING: She didn't adopt a name.

D. ROOSEVELT: That's right.

KING: Were they madly in love? Did they...


KING: Was the courtship...

D. ROOSEVELT: ... yes, deeply in love. And in fact, the courtship went on for, I believe it was almost two years. And in fact, for an entire year, they were not allowed, by Sara Delano to divulge the fact that they were even engaged to be married. And Sara tried her best to break up the engagement.

KING: Because?

D. ROOSEVELT: Well, because she did not feel that my grandmother was beautiful enough and really had the intelligence, et cetera, wasn't good enough for my grandfather.

WALLACE: Can you imagine?

KING: His father I interviewed many times, your father, and he used to say that growing up in the White House, and that's where they grew up, it was five boys, right? What a life that must have been like. And how Eleanor had to handle that because their father was busy with war and depression, right?

WALLACE: The fraternity house that I lived in, in Michigan back -- this was back when I got out of college in '39, so it was, let's say '37, '38, in the bathroom, in the men's room of the fraternity house, there was a toilet seat and his -- it was hung up on the wall, with a picture of him, underneath which it said "the crippled crook." Can you imagine? Can you imagine? It would - he didn't breed that kind of feeling.

KING: Did the public know he was crippled?

D. ROOSEVELT: Not really.


WALLACE: That's correct.

D. ROOSEVELT: Not really.

KING: Because they'd stand him up for events, right?

D. ROOSEVELT: Right. Right. But you know...

WALLACE: One of his sons...



D. ROOSEVELT: Mostly Jimmy, mostly my Uncle Jim, but my father and Franklin Jr., but you know, he believed, Larry, that because of the times and you have to remember that back then we -- they viewed back then disabilities as meaning a weak person, which, of course, we know today it doesn't mean that at all.

KING: We'd all put our little dimes in our little savings every week...

D. ROOSEVELT: That's right -- that's right -- that's right...

KING: ... Roosevelt March of Dimes.

D. ROOSEVELT: But he knew that he could not portray himself as being weak to the public and that's the only reason that he tried to hide his disability, and I think that's the reason that the press went along with it.

KING: Right back with more of the - we're discussing "Grandmere: The Personal History of Eleanor Roosevelt" with David B. Roosevelt, its author, and Mike Wallace, who wrote the introduction.

More after this.



WALLACE: When we talked with architect Frank Lloyd Wright a few weeks back, he told us that because of all this, the United States is in grave danger of declining as a world power, as a civilization. And he underlines that in his current book "Testament." Do you think that Mr. Wright is a completely wrong, Mrs. Roosevelt?

E. ROOSEVELT: I think that estimate to the American people is completely wrong. I feel quite sure that what the American people lack is knowledge. I feel quite sure that the American people, if they have knowledge and leadership, can meet any crises just as well as they met it over and over again in the past.


KING: Let me say something on a personal note. See how well that's shot? That was the best close-ups in interviewing television history.

WALLACE: And the first time it was done, too, really. KING: And the perfect black and white.


KING: That would have been wrong in color, that show. And -- but her voice was nice.


KING: Why did we make fun of it? That's a gentle voice.

WALLACE: Of course it is.

KING: It's nice to hear it again, too.


D. ROOSEVELT: Yes, it is. It is. It's nostalgic for me.

KING: Was she a playful grandmother?

D. ROOSEVELT: Oh, yes.

KING: Do all the little things?

D. ROOSEVELT: Yes, yes. And you know, Larry, she loved to talk with her grandchildren. She loved to have her grandchildren tell her what was important to them. Even as little bitty children. And she would carry on a conversation with us even, you know, the youngest. And she loved it. She centered her life around her grandchildren.

KING: She was affectionate?

D. ROOSEVELT: Oh, yes, yes.

KING: Like to hold, like to kiss?

D. ROOSEVELT: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

KING: She looked -- don't you think, Mike, patrician in a way?

WALLACE: She did.

D. ROOSEVELT: Yes, but she was so warm. She really was.

KING: Her role during World War II was what? Did she have a role?

WALLACE: Yes, in World War II, she was eyes and ears for Franklin Roosevelt.


WALLACE: She traveled -- as I say, went overseas, went all around the country.

D. ROOSEVELT: Extensively. And she went into...

WALLACE: She liked it?

D. ROOSEVELT: Yes. And -- but grandmere would go into harm's way. I mean, when she would go and...

KING: You say grandmere...

D. ROOSEVELT: Oh, yes. When she would go and visit troops in the South Pacific and what not...


D. ROOSEVELT: ...and they -- a lot of times, the generals hated to see her coming, but they loved it after she left because the men were reinvigorated by her. And it was a great thing.

KING: Where was she when Franklin died?

D. ROOSEVELT: She was in Washington and FDR was in Warm Springs.

KING: "I have a terrible headache," that's the -- his last words. Is that correct?

D. ROOSEVELT: Yes, yes, yes. Right.

KING: Who notified her? What -- do we know the story of who --

D. ROOSEVELT: I don't know precisely. I'm sure that it had to be a White House aide who called and notified my grandmother. She immediately went to Warm Springs. And it was upon her arrival in Warm Springs that she heard that Madame Schumatoff (ph) was there, who was painting a portrait of FDR. And Lucy Mercer was there as well.

KING: There was over New York a pall...


KING: -- not like John Kennedy, different. It was...

WALLACE: You were talking about Arthur Godfried before. He just cried and cried and cried.

KING: The great broadcast of a funeral. And now the hearse...

WALLACE: Exactly.

KING: And now the horseman comes down Pennsylvania Avenue. But the whole city, like you lost your father, right?

D. ROOSEVELT: Mm-hmm, right.

KING: It wasn't like a brother, wasn't like a president.


KING: Did you have to -- were you on the air then?

WALLACE: Huh-uh. No. I had not joined CBS. I was doing local newscasts on WMAQ-NBC.

KING: But so you were on? You were reporting about it?

WALLACE: Oh, yes, yes.

KING: Chicago reaction and the like?

WALLACE: Same thing, exactly the same.

KING: Did Eleanor like Harry Truman right away?

D. ROOSEVELT: No. In fact, she did not really approve of his appointment to run or nomination.

KING: She wanted Wallace?

D. ROOSEVELT: She wanted Wallace again. And, you know, and actually Mike -- that was part of the interview that she had with Mike. Mike asked her about that.

WALLACE: She talked about Richard Nixon. And she talked about Harry Truman. Those were the two figures that she talked about.

KING: In that interview, Nixon was vice president at the time?

WALLACE: Yes. In your column January 1956, you wrote about Republican leaders and about Richard Nixon. You said, Richard Nixon would be the least attractive. I know that given great responsibility men sometimes change. But Mr. Nixon's presidency would worry me, you said. Why do you reserve the special criticism for Mr. Nixon?


E. ROOSEVELT: Because I think that in great crises, you need to have deep-rooted convictions. And I have a feeling from the kind of campaign that I have watched Mr. Nixon in, in the past, that his convictions are not very strong.

WALLACE: Well, by the same token, would you have said that Harry Truman had shown great conviction prior to his being thrown into the presidency?

E. ROOSEVELT: No, I would not have. Jane, I did not know him very well before. I would say of Mr. Truman that he rose to the responsibilities thrust upon him in a manner which was very remarkable, really, and that his big decisions very likely are going to mean that he will go down in history as one of our very good presidents.


KING: She was pretty smart and pretty observant.


KING: Knew her -- she knew politics.

D. ROOSEVELT: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

KING: Boy, that's impressive. That's impressive. Now the story about her and Adlai Stevenson...


KING: And that she was not -- and I gather the two, and I interviewed her in '62, I guess, even before she died...

WALLACE: Right, right.

KING: ...was she wasn't too crazy about John Kennedy.

D. ROOSEVELT: No, she wasn't. And of course she had tried to get Adlai Stevenson to run again.

KING: In '60.

D. ROOSEVELT: And when he pulled out of the nominating process, she was very upset with him, very upset. And you know, my grandmother could get very upset with people.

KING: I've heard.


KING: What was it about Kennedy she didn't like?

D. ROOSEVELT: Well, I think that she felt that he did not have the experience perhaps that -- you know, and there was the -- there was an underlying ill feeling because of Joe Kennedy's, when he served as ambassador to the court of St. James, and my grandfather recalled him.

KING: Wasn't intended to make statements, don't fight Hitler, right?

D. ROOSEVELT: Oh, yes, yes, right.

KING: Joe Kennedy was against going to war in World War II.

D. ROOSEVELT: Well, it was interesting because my grandfather, I have heard, was so upset with Joe Kennedy that he sent, when Kennedy came, I believe it was to the White House, to be told that he was being removed, he sent -- FDR sent Eleanor because he refused to talk to Joe Kennedy.

WALLACE: Really?

D. ROOSEVELT: I believe. I've heard that story.

KING: We'll be right back with David Roosevelt and Mike Wallace on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. The book is now available everywhere. Don't go away.


WALLACE: Do you see even the beginnings of the making of a Washington or a Lincoln or a Wilson or a Roosevelt in Jack Kennedy or Stewart Symington or Robert Minor or Sophie Williams, who are the four men most talked about as potential Democratic presidents?

E. ROOSEVELT: I cannot tell you in what will happen in the next two years. At the moment, the only person I see those beginnings in is Adlai Stevenson, who has twice run for the presidency, and who has said he would not run again.




E. ROOSEVELT: Throughout this session, I have watched the signs of a change in attitude. I've been disappointed, but I am not discouraged. All of us must keep on hoping and working for a change, constantly asking ourselves if we are doing all we can to make clear our desire to live in peace and friendship with all our neighbors in the world community.


KING: We're back with Mike Wallace and David Roosevelt.

There's a great story in the annals of thousands of great stories about Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. And it involves Marian Anderson, the black opera singer, denied the right to sing at the Daughters of American Revolution Hall in Washington...


KING: ...when Franklin made that famous speech, "my fellow immigrants" when addressing them. But what did Eleanor do?

D. ROOSEVELT: Well, my grandmother, first, resigned her membership in the DAR.

KING: Because she was a DAR.

D. ROOSEVELT: She was a member of the DAR. And she then went and got, I believe it was Harry Hopkins and I can't remember, but she went to a number of FDR's closest advisers and convinced them to allow Marian Anderson to give her presentation at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. My grandmother did not go because she felt that her presence would detract from Marian Anderson's appearance, which, of course, I don't think it could have if you've ever seen the photograph of the huge crowd.

KING: Anderson sang...

D. ROOSEVELT: Oh, yes.

KING: front of that huge crowd.


KING: Now we have a connection between Mr. Wallace and Mrs. Roosevelt because you write in the book that she may have suffered from depression. Mike's been on this show to discuss that many times.


KING: What's the story?

D. ROOSEVELT: Well, my grandmother admitted herself later in life that she did suffer from depression.

WALLACE: What was it called back then?

KING: A word not commonly used then?

D. ROOSEVELT: No, no. And I don't know.

KING: The blues?

D. ROOSEVELT: The blues or whatever.


KING: No medication.

D. ROOSEVELT: But no. And -- what -- you know, one of the things that I've been told is that the way that my grandmother, when she realized that she -- when she recognized that she was going into a depressive state, she would become all the more active and involved in a particular issue, so that she didn't have the time to be bothered by this.

KING: Double the load?

D. ROOSEVELT: Absolutely.

KING: Did you do stuff like that?

WALLACE: No, didn't have the courage.

KING: That took -- explain that?

WALLACE: I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning. I wanted to turn over. And I'm quite serious. It took great...

KING: Oomph. So what she did was impressive?

WALLACE: Oh, what she did was -- if that's true, and I'm sure that you're right. Mind over matter. But there's one picture that you have here in this book, David, in which I believe Sara is reading to Eleanor, out of doors. D. ROOSEVELT: Right.

WALLACE: And Eleanor at that time was struggling with depression.

D. ROOSEVELT: Yes, yes.

WALLACE: And I found that difficult to come to terms with because Sara is not the kindest mother-in-law of all.

D. ROOSEVELT: Right, right. That's correct.

But my grandmother always tried to win Sara over. She felt particularly early in the marriage, she felt that she had to. She realized the influence that Sara had on my grandfather and she also realized the influence that Sara had on the family.

WALLACE: Dr. Geravich (ph), was he...


WALLACE: ...involved with the depression business, do you think?

D. ROOSEVELT: No, I don't believe so, Mike.

KING: Who was he?

D. ROOSEVELT: Dr. Geravich (ph) -- David Geravich (ph) was a very, very close personal friend and my grandmother's personal physician at the end. And so, but I don't believe that he was directly involved with the depression. Not that I've read, anyway.


KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with David B. Roosevelt, the grandson of the late Eleanor Roosevelt and Mike Wallace. Don't go away.


KING: What was her effect, relationship, attitude toward her uncle, the other president, Teddy?

D. ROOSEVELT: Oh, she adored Teddy Roosevelt.

KING: But he was what to her?

D. ROOSEVELT: He was her uncle. He was the...

KING: Brother.

D. ROOSEVELT: of her father, Elliott, who died when she was very young.

KING: Your father named after him? D. ROOSEVELT: That's right. And T.R. became my grandmother's surrogate father. And actually, he gave her away when she married FDR and stole the show, I might add. Stole the show.

KING: I bet. Great American political families, right? Adams, Kennedys, Bushes, Roosevelts.

WALLACE: Roosevelts. That's right. Astonishing.

KING: Was she a lousy driver?

D. ROOSEVELT: She was a horrible driver, she was. And...

KING: That's in the book.

D. ROOSEVELT: Yes, it is.

KING: They told me.

WALLACE: And what do you mean she...

KING: Well when would she drive?

D. ROOSEVELT: She was a -- well, she'd drive up in Hyde Park and Valkill (ph) all over. She'd go into the village. She'd go into Poughkeepsie.

KING: And really into the village.

D. ROOSEVELT: And people would -- I remember people moving out of her way. She would drive an old Studebaker, never had a driver. Drove her -- well she actually she did one of the men who worked on -- at Valkill (ph) periodically would drive her into the city in her Studebaker.

WALLACE: Talk about trivia, she told me that she liked to eat garlic. I said, what do you mean? She said, it's wonderful for the memory. Wonderful for the memory.


E. ROOSEVELT: My doctor told me to take it to help my memory. Doesn't help my memory much. But nevertheless, that's what I was given it for.

WALLACE: And do you still?

E. ROOSEVELT: Oh, yes.

WALLACE: And in spite of the fact it hasn't helped your memory?

E. ROOSEVELT: Well, that's, of course, age -- he gave me one more year. And at my age, you don't like to add to your years because they come too quickly anyway.

(END VIDEO CLIP) D. ROOSEVELT: I better start eating.

KING: Talk about now.

WALLACE: For those of us who are a trifle older.

KING: You want to grab a little, and take the -- take whatever comes as the side effect. So what, right?

WALLACE: That's right.

KING: Mike, be a historian for me.


KING: Place to those youngsters watching us...


KING: Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin -- the Roosevelts in perspectives?

WALLACE: Mm-hmm. Oh, well, the Roosevelts -- look, my mother and father came from Russia.

KING: Mine, too.

WALLACE: And in our household, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, you can imagine.

KING: God and goddess.

WALLACE: That's exactly right. They, and particularly during the Depression, that meant hope. They had such respect mainly obviously for Franklin because Eleanor hadn't made her...


WALLACE: But as far as I am concerned...

KING: The greatest?

WALLACE: George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, darn right.

KING: Did she know the impact she had on the world?

D. ROOSEVELT: Larry, I don't think she did. I don't think she was concerned beyond what she could make happen. I don't think she cared personally what her impact would be, as long as she could move things to change. And that was -- I mean she had very little self- interest. And that was an incredible trait about her, incredible. You know, I would have to say...

KING: Yes. D. ROOSEVELT: ...she -- you know the declaration of human -- universal of human rights, we would consider that one of her greatest achievements. She thought it was just part of her business.

KING: She buried in Hyde Park?


KING: Next to Franklin?

D. ROOSEVELT: Next to -- yes.

KING: Anybody else there?

D. ROOSEVELT: Fallow (ph), the dog.

KING: Fallow (ph) was the dog?

D. ROOSEVELT: The Scottie dog. That's the three.

KING: One of great political speeches of all time, right, when they criticize my dog...

WALLACE: Oh, I forget what he said.

KING: God or something.


KING: They get my dander up.

WALLACE: That's correct.

D. ROOSEVELT: Right, right.

KING: And we forget how -- what would he have done with television? What he did with radio?

WALLACE: It's true. He's one of most persuasive speakers.

KING: Easy.

WALLACE: Is there anybody to a certain degree, in a strange way, I know this is -- Ronald Reagan who adored...

KING: Oh, his hero.

WALLACE: Ronald Reagan adored Roosevelt.

KING: ...adored Franklin. Ronald Reagan was a big D Democrat.

WALLACE: That's correct.

KING: Mike, always a pleasure. David, a pleasure meeting you.

D. ROOSEVELT: Thank you. KING: And an honor to know your father and your grandmother.


KING: Mike Wallace of CBS "60 MINUTES," he wrote the forward. David B. Roosevelt, who wrote the book, along with Manuella Don Machete. The book is "Grandmere: A Personal History of Eleanor Roosevelt," now available everywhere. Thanks for joining us. Good night.



Mike Wallace>

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