Franklin Delano Roosevelt: The Picnic That Won the War, the Royal Visit, the Hot Dog Summit of 1939, and Hyde Park on the Hudson Movie

The 1939 “hot dog summit” between Franklin Roosevelt and England’s King George VI in Hyde Park is the subject of a new movie, Hyde Park on the Hudson. PLUS: The history of Wilderstein, Daisy Suckley’s family home in Rhinebeck

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bill murray hyde park on the hudson moviePhotographs courtesy of Focus Features

Carl Spackler, Defender of Freedom?

When the new movie Hyde Park on Hudson opens on December 7, millions will learn about the historic royal visit of 1939 and the relationship between Franklin Roosevelt and Daisy Suckley. She is played by Laura Linney. He is played by Bill Murray.

Yes, that Bill Murray. The same actor who portrays Carl Spackler, the gopher-killing, Dalai Lama-caddying, Masters-dreaming, demented groundskeeper in Caddyshack. Cinderella story. Out of nowhere. I have to laugh. Can this really work?

Dr. David B. Woolner, a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, thinks so. “There are certain qualities of Murray that fit FDR’s personality,” he says, “his wry sense of humor, his ability to enjoy things even in the midst of a great deal of stress.”

bill murray hyde park on the hudson movie

Indeed, one scene in the trailer depicts Murray-as-FDR chauffeuring the terrified king and queen at breakneck speed up the steep and twisting roads of his estate in his famous blue Ford Roadster, driving with his hand controls and waving his cigarette holder, looking not unlike another character Murray played, journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Woolner hasn’t seen the film, but “those who have seen it told me they take some artistic license, particularly with his relationships with the women in his life, including Daisy Suckley,” he says. “They imply — or more than imply — that the relationship was physical, but there is no actual evidence to prove that one way or the other.”

Nevertheless, he is looking forward to seeing the film. “I’m pleased to see the drama of Anglo-American relations. It could have gone terribly wrong if the public had reacted differently, but it was handled brilliantly by Roosevelt and the royal family.”

So they got that going for them. Which is nice.

Next page: All about Wilderstein Historic Site, home of Daisy Suckley


Photographs from The Picnic That Won the War, the Royal Visit, the Hot Dog Summit of 1939, and Hyde Park on the Hudson Movie


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