Synopsis by Hal Erickson
First aired March 13, 1977, Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years was the brilliant follow-up to the equally praiseworthy 1976 TV movie Eleanor and Franklin: The Early Years. The film is framed in a flashback experienced by first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (Jane Alexander) while accompanying the casket carrying the body of her husband Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Edward Herrmann) to its final resting place in Hyde Park. Elected in 1933, FDR endeavors to pull the country out of the Depression with the New Deal during his first term, while Eleanor emerges as a formidable public figure in her own right during the second term, tirelessly working on behalf of social change and reforms. Ever under the baleful eye of his mother Sara (Rosemary Murphy), Roosevelt tries to maintain family equilibrium in the White House as he seeks an unprecedented third term. Sara dies in December of 1941, two days before Roosevelt, in his "Day of Infamy" speech, declares war on Japan. Despite health problems, FDR successfully pursues a fourth term in 1944; he dies in office in April of 1945, a scant few months before the end of World War II. Despite her long-standing displeasure over her husband's long-ago affair with artist Lucy Mercer (Linda Kelsey), a stiff-lipped Eleanor puts on a brave front when Roosevelt dies in the company of Deakins at a health spa in Georgia. Based on Joseph P. Lash's Pulitzer prize-winning biography, Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years earned Emmies for "Outstanding Special" and for director Daniel Petrie.