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Sunrise at Campobello (play)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sunrise at Campobello
Written byDore Schary
CharactersFranklin Delano Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Sara Delano Roosevelt
Date premieredJanuary 30, 1958
Place premieredCort Theatre
New York City, United States
Original languageEnglish
SubjectFDR's battle with polio
SettingCampobello Island,
New Brunswick, Canada

Sunrise at Campobello is a 1958 play by American producer and writer Dore Schary based on U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's struggle with polio. The film version was released in 1960.


The Roosevelt family at Campobello (1920)
The Roosevelt family at Campobello (1920)

The original Broadway production was presented at the Cort Theatre by The Theatre Guild and Dore Schary and directed by Vincent J. Donehue. It opened on January 30, 1958 and closed on May 30, 1959 running for 556 performances. It starred Ralph Bellamy as Roosevelt. Bellamy won a Tony Award for Best Actor. Others in the cast included Henry Jones as Louis McHenry Howe; Mary Fickett as Eleanor Roosevelt; Anne Seymour as Sara Delano Roosevelt and, in his Broadway debut, James Earl Jones. Bellamy repeated his role in the film version of the play, but was not Oscar-nominated for his performance, though Greer Garson was Oscar-nominated for her performance as Eleanor.

The production won three other Tonys including Best Play (producers were Lawrence Langner, Theresa Helburn, Armina Marshall and Dore Schary), Best Director of a Play (Vincent J. Donehue) and Henry Jones won for Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. Mary Fickett was nominated for Best Supporting or Featured Actress in a Play.

FDR nominating Al Smith at the 1924 Democratic National Convention (June 26, 1924)
FDR nominating Al Smith at the 1924 Democratic National Convention (June 26, 1924)

Campobello Island was Roosevelt's summer home in New Brunswick, Canada. Early scenes in the play's actions take place there, where we see Roosevelt afflicted with paralysis of his legs, before the play's story shifts to Roosevelt's home in New York City, where he struggles to overcome the paralysis. The play ends with the 1924 Democratic National Convention speech, which catapulted him back into politics after an absence of several years.


Ralph Bellamy stars in the 1960 film adaptation of Sunrise at Campobello, released by Warner Bros. Dore Schary, who began his career in Hollywood, wrote and produced the film which, like the stage version, was directed by Vincent J. Donehue. Greer Garson co-stars as Eleanor, with Hume Cronyn as Louis Howe. The role of Sara Delano Roosevelt, FDR's mother, is played Ann Shoemaker, who succeeded Anne Seymour in the role in the original Broadway production.

Despite it being perhaps Bellamy's most famous role, it was Garson who received the critical attention. She won the Golden Globe and National Board of Review Award for Best Actress. The film received four Academy Award nominations: Best Actress (Garson), Art Direction, Sound and Costume Design.

Historical basis

Roosevelt was diagnosed with polio in 1921, but his symptoms are more consistent with Guillain–Barré syndrome - an autoimmune neuropathy which his doctors failed to consider as a diagnostic possibility.[1]

See also

Awards and nominations

  • 1958 Tony Award for Best Play
  • 1958 Tony Award for Best Actor in Play - Ralph Bellamy
  • 1958 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play - Henry Jones
  • 1958 Tony Award for Best Director - Vincent J. Donehue
  • 1958 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play - Mary Fickett


  1. ^ Goldman, Armond S.; Goldman, Daniel A. (2017). Prisoners of Time: The Misdiagnosis of FDR's 1921 Illness. EHDP Press. ISBN 978-1939824035.

External links

This page was last edited on 12 March 2020, at 04:42
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