Actors highlight FDR, Eleanor’s relationship

Published 6:42 am Monday, October 27, 2008

By By TED STRONG Staff Writer
Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, had an enduring, if not always close, marriage, said actor William Wills.
Wills, and his wife, Sue, dressed as the famous couple in a show for members of the Friends of Brown Library at Beaufort County Community College’s campus Sunday.
The two told the story of the longest-serving president of the United States and his wife as a retrospective conversation.
The couple traced Roosevelt’s path from New York to the White House, and the ups and downs of his relationship with his wife during those years.
The presentation even included Roosevelt’s own voice, when an excerpt was played of his famous speech after Pearl Harbor was bombed.
The speech is famous because it effectively signaled the U.S.’s entry into World War II, and because Roosevelt called the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, Dec. 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.”
William Wills matched Roosevelt’s inflection, syllable for syllable, taking over and finishing a short portion of the speech as the tape cut out.
Encinias said the duo were hard to book at first but are now a Friends favorite.
The couple play about 325 dates, mostly up and down the East Coast and into the upper Midwest, William Wills said.
After the presentation, William Wills recommended that those interesting in learning more about the Roosevelts consider starting with one of Eleanor Roosevelt’s own books, Joseph Lash’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Eleanor and Franklin” or “No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Encinias said the library houses a collection of more than a dozen impersonations the couple does of various first couples.
And William Wills urged the audience to learn from the Roosevelts’ lives as yet another presidential election approaches.
He said, “Maybe it might not be a bad idea to rely on prayer like Franklin and Eleanor did.”