A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America

More than just a history of the frantic search for a polio vaccine, A Paralyzing Fear also explores the fear of disability that drove it. Even after the causes of polio were understood, small outbreaks could mean the ostracisim of entire families and neighborhoods, or snowball into panics like the mass exodus from New York City. The ominous television ads promoting fear of “the Crippler”, a shadowy scythe-bearing personification of the virus, were the most effective in raising money for research. (Later, when polio was nearly beaten and fear abated, research organizations like the March of Dimes had to take out multimillion dollar loans to finish their work.)

The fears of the polio patients themselves are also explored, from the black children who were given inadequate care and thus suffered more, to the white males who were never taught that they could still live full lives with a disability, to the iron lung-using woman who tearfully recalls being threatened by a nurse as a little girl that her ventilator would be turned off if she didn’t stop crying.

Once the vaccine was found and the unaffected could relax again, donations to find a cure or maintain the (previously free) care that people with polio received never materialized. As the most famous person with polio once said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Bill Murray Will Play FDR

From New York Magazine:

Our spies tell us that it’s official: Bill Murray has agreed to star as FDR in an adaptation of the British radio play Hyde Park On the Hudson to be directed by Morning Glory’s Roger Michell. The project, set up at Focus Features and the UK’s Film4, recounts the quasi-incestuous love affair between the president and his distant cousin, Margaret Stuckley, and takes place on the June 1939 weekend that the British King and Queen visited Roosevelt at his upstate New York cottage, in the first-ever visit to America by a member of the United Kingdom monarchy.

The movie will start shooting in July, with a script by Richard Nelson; he adapted his own 2009 BBC radio play, which aired in the U.K. on the 70th anniversary of the royal’s famous trip. The film will be produced by In the Loop’s Kevin Loader.