James Roosevelt dies


eldest son of FDR was businessman...

August 14, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

NEWPORT BEACH, CALF. — James Roosevelt dies; eldest son of FDR was businessman, 0) politician

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- James Roosevelt, eldest son and last surviving child of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a former Los Angeles congressman, mayoral candidate and United Nations delegate, died yesterday at his home here. He was 83.

Mr. Roosevelt had been under the care of a physician for a stroke and Parkinson's disease.

He survived several controversial business and political endeavors. In 1987 he traveled to Capitol Hill to defend his 1.8 million-member National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. The organization allegedly used "scare tactics" to solicit millions of dollars by mail from the elderly, but Mr. Roosevelt defended it, saying: "Our cause is a good one; our methods are honest."

He is survived by his fourth wife, Mary, and seven children, including James Roosevelt Jr., who ran unsuccessfully in 1986 against Joseph P. Kennedy II, son of the late Sen. Robert F.

Kennedy, for the Massachusetts congressional seat once held by Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill.

The second of six children and a native of New York City, James Roosevelt grew up immersed in politics in Albany, N.Y., and Washington. A graduate of Groton and Harvard, he served as an administrative assistant and then briefly as press secretary to his father in the White House. As a Marine, he won the Navy Cross and Silver Star for gallantry during a World War II raid in the Pacific.

He did not seek elective office until after he had worked in jobs ranging from laborer in a Canadian paper mill in 1926 to a Boston insurance salesman in 1937 and Hollywood movie mogul. He was a vice president of Samuel Goldwyn Productions Inc. in 1938 and produced the 1940 films, "Pastor Hall" and "Pot of Gold," independently.

He also was a radio announcer in 1933 and returned to broadcasting with daily commentaries in 1946. He became state Democratic Party chairman in 1946 but lost the post after attempting unsuccessfully to persuade Dwight D. Eisenhower to oppose President Harry S Truman for the 1948 Democratic presidential nomination.

In 1950, Mr. Roosevelt ran unsuccessfully for governor of California against Republican incumbent Earl Warren. He lost 2-1 after accusing Mr. Warren -- later chief justice of the Supreme Court -- of failing to plan adequately for the state's dramatic population growth.

While serving as congressman from Beverly Hills from 1955 to 1966, Mr. Roosevelt unsuccessfully sought the mayoralty of Los Angeles in 1965 against Sam Yorty.

Mr. Roosevelt moved to Orange County in 1972 and became a lecturer at both the University of California, Irvine, and Chapman College in Orange, Calif. He also was a business consultant and served on the Orange County Transportation Commission, of which he was chairman in 1986.

While serving as U.S. ambassador to UNESCO, Mr. Roosevelt became a vice president and director of Investors Overseas Services, a Switzerland-based company that collapsed amid fraud charges against some of his associates, including fugitive Robert L. Vesco and Bernard Cornfeld.

While he was with IOS, Mr. Roosevelt's third wife, Gladys Irene Owens, stabbed him during an argument in 1969 at their Geneva home, according to Swiss authorities.

The Securities and Exchange Commission dismissed a lawsuit against him after he signed a 1973 court order pledging not to violate securities laws. He acknowledged no wrongdoing at IOS.

Mr. Roosevelt stirred resentment among Democratic Party loyalists by heading Democrats for Richard Nixon in 1972 and endorsing Ronald Reagan for president in 1984. He endorsed and campaigned for Jimmy Carter in 1976.

He once criticized his political detractors by saying: "There are some liberals who won't recognize one's right to some independent thought. That's the opposite of the liberal point of view, which respects the inherent right to freedom of choice."

Mr. Roosevelt cited his work in Congress on behalf of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, particularly a provision mandating fair employment practices, as his proudest legislative achievement.

Arthur Walker Bryan, who taught at the Polytechnic Institute, died Aug. 9 in McLean, Va., after a brief illness. He was 92.

Mr. Bryan was born in Baltimore but reared in Perth Amboy, N.J. He attended the University of Maryland, Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and the Naval Academy in Annapolis. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1922.

He did postgraduate work at the Naval Postgraduate School and Johns Hopkins University.

He retired from the Navy as a young man and, in 1928, became an educator and a partner in the Cochran-Bryan Preparatory School in Annapolis. The school helped to prepare high school graduates to take entrance exams for military academies.

During World War II and until the 1950's, the school's name was changed to the Bryan Preparatory School.

Mr. Bryan later taught mathematics and physics at the Polytechnic Institute in Baltimore, retiring in 1968.

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