The Roosevelts
Blu-ray cover
Also known asThe Roosevelts: An Intimate History
Based onThe Roosevelts: An Intimate History
by Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns
Written byGeoffrey Ward
Directed byKen Burns
StarringPaul Giamatti
Edward Herrmann
Meryl Streep
Narrated byPeter Coyote
Theme music composerDavid Cieri
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes7
ProducersKen Burns
Paul Barnes
Pam Tubridy Baucom
CinematographyBuddy Squires
Allen Moore
EditorsPaul Barnes
Tricia Reidy
Erik Ewers
Daniel J. White
Running time120 minutes
Production companyFlorentine Films
Original networkPBS
Original releaseSeptember 14 (2014-09-14) –
September 20, 2014 (2014-09-20)

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History is a 2014 American documentary television miniseries directed and produced by Ken Burns. It covers the lives and times of the three most prominent members of the Roosevelt family, Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican and the 26th President of the United States; Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, the 32nd President of the United States, and fifth cousin of Theodore; and Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, a niece of Theodore, and wife of Franklin. As a result of the influence of Theodore and Franklin as Presidents, as well as Eleanor as First Lady, a modern democratic state of equal opportunity was begun in the United States. The series begins with the birth of Theodore in 1858 and ends with the death of Eleanor in 1962.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Actors and historians

The series is narrated by Peter Coyote. Actors read lines of various historical figures and a series of noted commentators give background information. They include:

As themselves:

Other voices include: Adam Arkin, Keith Carradine, Kevin Conway, Ed Harris, Josh Lucas, Carl Lumbly, Amy Madigan, Carolyn McCormick, Pamela Reed, Billy Bob Thornton, and Eli Wallach.


No. Episode[8] Original air date
1"Get Action" (1858–1901)September 14, 2014 (2014-09-14)[9]
Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt all overcame challenging circumstances early in their lives during the Gilded Age. As a result of the influence of Theodore and Franklin as Presidents, as well as Eleanor as First Lady, a modern democratic state of equal opportunity was begun in the United States.
2"In The Arena" (1901–1910)September 15, 2014 (2014-09-15)[10]
Theodore becomes the 26th President of the United States, fights corporate greed, builds the Panama Canal and helps preserve wilderness areas. Franklin marries Eleanor and enters politics by running for the New York state senate.
3"The Fire of Life" (1910–1919)September 16, 2014 (2014-09-16)[11]
Theodore pursues a progressive crusade and, as a result, compromises the Republican Party. Later, he promotes America's entry into World War I and, while considering another presidential run, dies in 1919. Franklin serves as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He becomes involved with another woman and his relationship with Eleanor becomes a purely political partnership.
4"The Storm" (1920–1933)September 17, 2014 (2014-09-17)[12]
Franklin runs for Vice President of the United States but his party loses the election. The next year, he is stricken with a disabling paralytic illness. Eleanor develops a political life of her own. Franklin becomes Governor of New York and, later, runs for the office of President of the United States.
5"The Rising Road" (1933–1939)September 18, 2014 (2014-09-18)[13]
Franklin becomes the 32nd President of the United States, introduces the New Deal to help resolve the Great Depression and undertakes the issue of Adolf Hitler's rise in Germany. Eleanor provides Franklin with a liberal perspective and becomes, herself, a political force.
6"The Common Cause" (1939–1944)September 19, 2014 (2014-09-19)[14]
Franklin, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, promotes America's entry into World War II and eventual Allied victory. During wartime, Eleanor helps to maintain the earlier New Deal initiatives and comforts wounded troops in the Pacific.
7"A Strong and Active Faith" (1944–1962)September 20, 2014 (2014-09-20)[15]
Franklin wins a fourth term as President, plans for peacetime but dies while in office on April 12, 1945. Eleanor, after Franklin's death, promotes civil rights, civil liberties and the United Nations. She died in 1962 and was mourned as First Lady of the World.

Critical response

The series premiered to positive reviews and was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards, winning the Emmy Award for Outstanding Narrator for Peter Coyote's narration of the first episode.[16] In September 2014, The Roosevelts became the most streamed documentary on the PBS website to date.[17]

According to critic James Poniewozik of Time magazine, "The Roosevelts tells the story of the American 20th century in triptych. Teddy (who became President in 1901) is progressivism, expansionism and reform. FDR is the rise of American power and the rewriting of the social contract. (Conservative pundit George Will sums up his legacy: the government would not just 'provide the conditions for the pursuit of happiness' but 'deliver happiness, understood as material well-being.') Eleanor looks ahead to postwar globalism and the move of women and minorities in from the margins."[4] Further, Poniewozik states, "The Roosevelts brings up a kind of nature-nurture question: did these leaders make the times, or did the times make these leaders? It can't answer this question. But it does manage to tell an educational, emotional story of how these leaders and their times made us."[4]

Hank Stuever, critic at The Washington Post, writes, "Let's start with the end. When it's over — when you make it through the marathon that is Ken Burns's beautiful, seven-part documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, ... you may find yourself with a lingering, nebulous grief. You're sorry it's over. You're sorry they're over. You're sorry a certain expression of American ideals is, or often appears to be, completely over."[18]

Timothy Egan of The New York Times wrote, "Ambitious and deeply moving."[19]

See also


  1. ^ Moore, Frazier (September 10, 2014). "PBS' 'The Roosevelts' portrays an epic threesome". AP News. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  2. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (September 12, 2014). "A Family's Rough Ride Through an American Era". New York Times. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  3. ^ Egan, Timothy (September 4, 2014). "Roosevelts to the Rescue". New York Times. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Poniewozik, James (September 12, 2014). "Review: The Roosevelts Gets Up Close and Personal With History". Time Magazine. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  5. ^ Bianco, Robert (September 10, 2014). "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History PBS, **** out of four". USA Today. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  6. ^ Lowry, Brian (September 10, 2014). "TV Review: 'The Roosevelts: An Intimate History'". Variety. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  7. ^ Hollander, Sophia (September 5, 2014). "More Questions for Filmmaker Ken Burns On 'The Roosevelts: An Intimate History'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  8. ^ "The Roosevelts - Episode Guide". PBS. 2014. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  9. ^ "The Roosevelts - Episode 01". PBS. 2014. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  10. ^ "The Roosevelts - Episode 02". PBS. 2014. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  11. ^ "The Roosevelts - Episode 03". PBS. 2014. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  12. ^ "The Roosevelts - Episode 04". PBS. 2014. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  13. ^ "The Roosevelts - Episode 05". PBS. 2014. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  14. ^ "The Roosevelts - Episode 06". PBS. 2014. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  15. ^ "The Roosevelts - Episode 07". PBS. 2014. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  16. ^ Ge, Linda (September 12, 2015). "Creative Arts Emmys: The Complete Winners List". The Wrap. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  17. ^ "Ken Burns' 'The Roosevelts' Docu His Most Streamed To Date". Deadline Hollywood. September 22, 2014. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  18. ^ Stuever, Hank (September 12, 2014). "'The Roosevelts': Once you finish all 14 hours, you're sorry to see them go". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  19. ^ Egan, Timothy (2014-09-04). "Opinion | Roosevelts to the Rescue". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-12-08.

Quotations related to Theodore Roosevelt at Wikiquote
Quotations related to Franklin D. Roosevelt at Wikiquote
Quotations related to Eleanor Roosevelt at Wikiquote