[March of Dimes] [Roosevelt, Franklin D. (1882-1945) ] Bolger, Ray. (1904–1987) Powell, Eleanor. (1912–1982) Zorina, Vera. (1917–2003)

Signed Photograph of FDR's 56th Birthday Ball Celebration

Intriguing original photograph relating to the President's 56th Birthday Ball Celebration, held January 30, 1938, two days after the inscription dated at the foot.  The image depicts Hollywood stars Ray Bolger, Vera Zorina and Eleanor Powell (shown on the lap of Melvin C. Hazen (1869 - 1941), President of the District of Columbia Board of Commissioners) and James P. Sullivan, a close associate of FDR and an original member of the FDR "Cuff Link Gang," all of whom have inscribed to one Richmond Reich, who evidently worked with Hazen and the assembled stars on the Birthday Ball and who is almost surely the third male figure depicted in the image.  Mounted to backing board, water stain to right side which does not affect image, Hazen and Sullivan inscriptions exhibiting some light bleeding as a result, else fine.  14 x 11 inches (35.6 x 27.9 cm.).

The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, later renamed the March of Dimes, was established in 1938 and grew out of the great success of the Birthday Balls for President Franklin Roosevelt. In the weeks before the January 1938 Presidents annual Birthday Ball Hollywood comedian Eddie Cantor began a radio appeal for help. He encouraged everyone, young and old, rich or poor, to send a dime or two to the White House. He called it a  March of Dimes, a name which caught on and garnered tremendous public support. Days before the President's Birthday gala the White House was flooded with an avalanche of 30,000 letters.  So massive was the deluge of donations the regular distribution within the executive mansion was disrupted; none of the official mail could be delivered. (18439)

Signed Photograph
History & Historiography