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Eleanor Roosevelt

July 13, 2010 |  1:57 pm

July 10, 1960, Eleanor Roosevelt
Photograph by Frank Q. Brown / Los Angeles Times

July 10, 1960: Eleanor Roosevelt refuses to ride in a limousine to a reception, preferring to walk half a mile with reporters.

The absence of former President Harry Truman underscored the Democrats’ break with the past and cast a warm light on former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who attended the convention to support the faltering and ultimately doomed campaign of Adlai Stevenson.

In speaking for Stevenson, Roosevelt questioned whether Kennedy’s Catholic faith might cost him votes and said he didn’t have the support of African Americans. Instead, she backed a Stevenson-Kennedy ticket. 

In his Esquire magazine article, Norman Mailer said:

There was Eleanor Roosevelt, fine, precise, hand-worked like ivory. Her voice was almost attractive as she explained in the firm, sad tones of the first lady in this small town why she could not admit Mr. Kennedy, who was no doubt a gentleman, into her political house. One had the impression of a lady who was finally becoming a woman, which is to say that she was just a little bitchy about it all; nice bitchy, charming, it had a touch of art to it, but it made one wonder if she were not now satisfying the last passion of them all, which was to become physically attractive, for she was better-looking than she had ever been as she spurned the possibilities of a young suitor.”

July 11, 1960, Eleanor Roosevelt
Photograph by Ken Dare / Los Angeles Times

July 11, 1960: Gov. Pat Brown and Eleanor Roosevelt.

July 12, 1960, Eleanor Roosevelt, Stevenson
Photograph by the Los Angeles Times

July 11, 1960: Eleanor Roosevelt and Adlai Stevenson at the Biltmore.

July 12, 1960, Eleanor Roosevelt
Photograph by Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times

Eleanor Roosevelt takes a balcony seat after an ovation from the crowd. This would be her last political convention.