Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

October 30, 2013

Ed Asner portrays Roosevelt in one-man show at Palace

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Ed Asner, best known for his television role as Lou Grant in the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Lou Grant,” took to the stage of the Palace Theatre Tuesday in his one-man show “FDR.”

Just about two weeks shy of turning 84, Asner still managed to captivate the audience with about two hours of solid running dialogue as the nation’s longest-serving president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

For both political and history buffs, the evening had special charms, because it brought to life figures such as Wendell Wilkie, Al Smith, Louis Howe, and of course, Roosevelt himself.

It was particularly nice to see him show Roosevelt’s insecurities, his offense at being criticized by newspapers and Republican opponents. It’s so easy to think of figures like Roosevelt or Lincoln as supremely confident, but it’s through the arts, in plays such as this one or movies, that we’re reminded of the humanity of these larger-than-life figures.

As with any one-man show, it was part one-sided conversations with invisible characters, such as Eleanor, his wife, his secretaries, his admirals, other political figures and his children, as well as an expressed monologue where he just explained himself and his feelings to the audience.

Although any historian could argue that FDR’s 14 years in office were a series of national and international crises, Asner’s portrayal hit home the hardest when he acted out the reactions to the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the subsequent entrance into World War II.

The show teemed with marvelous lines, including “I’m an American, a Protestant and a Democrat — but not necessarily in that order,” and “The fight against polio conditioned me for this office.”

The show was underwritten by the J. Tom Eady Charitable Trust, backed by the E.M. Sheppard Foundation, and sponsored by C.L. “Buster” and Toni Brown, and Community National Bank and Trust.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com