updated: 28/04/2008

first lady makeups: Warm Springs

A look at Franklin D Roosevelt’s pre-presidency days, from his being diagnosed with polio (though a recent study concluded it was more likely to have been Guillain-Barré syndrome ) in 1921 to return to active politics in 1928. Refusing to accept that he was permanently paralyzed, Roosevelt tried a wide range of therapies, including hydrotherapy, and in 1926 he purchased a resort at Warm Springs, Georgia, where he founded a hydrotherapy center for the treatment of polio patients. At the time when the media was less intrusive, Roosevelt was able to convince many people that he was in fact getting better; wearing iron braces, he laboriously taught himself to walk a short distance while supporting himself with a cane. In private, he used a wheelchair, but he was careful never to be seen in it in public.

Eleanor was played by Cynthia Nixon. Since Sex and the City, Cynthia has made a great effort to avoid being typecast – the cynic in me queries whether the leaking of her sexual orientation was part of a strategy – with a number of unglamourous and challeging roles (eg a stroke victim on ER). Her acting, and her over-sized prosthetic dentures, may have been up to the role but very few actresses have a facial structure to convincing capture Eleanor’s looks – certainly not without heavy prosthetics at least. As Cynthia commented in one interview, Eleanor was known almost as much for her teeth as for her outspokeness:

We tried different teeth, different sizes and different levels of buck-toothedness… People were always asking me if it was difficult to speak with the teeth in, (but) actually I found that when I had them in it was much easier to sound like her, because a lot of the way she spoke was trying to speak around her teeth.

Cynthia’s performance garnered her nominations for: the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie; the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television; the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries; and the Satellite Award for Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television.

Carla White was makeup department head; Donna M. Premick was key makeup artist; Keith VanderLaan was special makeup effects creator; Brian Sipe was special makeup supervisor. Carla White and Donna Premick were nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Non-Prosthetic)