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New film shows FDR walking at White House in 1935

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library this week released new, rarely seen video footage that shows the 32nd U.S. president walking at the White House -- not bound to his wheelchair.

The footage, which was donated to the library, shows the polio-plagued president using a cane to walk to a balcony of the White House's South Portico during the Easter Egg Roll in 1935.

The FDR library said it received the video from Richard G. Hill -- whose grandfather, Nevada ranch owner Fred Hill, shot the footage -- in December. It's believed to be the earliest existing motion picture of Roosevelt at the egg roll, the library said.

Experts say it was rare for Roosevelt, who was paralyzed from the waist down by polio in 1921, to be filmed walking. The press, they say, generally did not film him struggling to walk, as the Secret Service wanted to avoid publicizing his paralysis.

"Most significantly, the footage presents very rare film of Franklin D. Roosevelt's adapted walk," the library said in a statement. "Footage of FDR 'walking' is rare because he primarily used a small wheelchair to move from location to location within the White House and at home, and used his adapted walk only for short distances at public appearances."

Roosevelt historian and library trustee Geoffrey C. Ward said Fred Hill was oblivious to White House rules when he shot the footage of Roosevelt 83 years ago.
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"Had they seen that he is filming the President in motion they would have asked him to hand over the camera and removed the film before handing it back," Ward said in a statement.

Library director Paul Sparrow told The Washington Post he "gasped" when he saw the footage.


"I had never seen this footage before, and we had a sense that no one had ever seen this footage before," Sparrow said. "It's by far the clearest image I've ever seen of something that's obsessed me for 20 years."
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