This episode of the 1950s TV series The Greatest Drama tells the story of the great “Crusader,” Fiorello H. La Guardia, also known as the “Little Flower.” La Guardia addresses a crowd at a political rally. He sits in a chair at his home and reads a book (01:14). Footage shows New York City’s impoverished lower east side (01:55), where La Guardia grew up. La Guardia serves in World War I as a pilot, and footage shows several planes taking off, while a photograph shows La Guardia in uniform. He was involved in an investigation of the sinking of the S4 submarine (02:52); a salvage ship works where the sub went down. He runs for mayor of New York against Jimmy Walker, who stands smiling in a crowd (03:34). La Guardia speaks passionately to an audience and the camera about reform (04:12). The episode shows City Hall (04:22); inside, newly elected Mayor La Guardia sifts through papers on his desk (04:37). Police officers sit at an event or talk (05:06); La Guardia shows his tough-on-crime attitude using a sledge hammer to destroy slot machines confiscated from mob boss Frank Costello. Firefighters drive through the city’s streets then put out a fire (05:40). La Guardia and his wife sit on a couch with their two children (06:27). The episode shows a parade as part of a rally against Nazi Germany in 1939 (06:50), and La Guardia speaks at the rally. He is then shown speaking in 1940 at the dedication of the new La Guardia Airport (07:20). Women of local air defense units prepare for potential air raids during World War II. La Guardia reads the comics over a radio broadcast, in this case a Dick Tracy comic (08:07). La Guardia walks into City Hall on his last day as mayor (09:05); he turns his office over to successor William O’Dwyer. He is soon working to help the refugees in Europe after the end of World War II. La Guardia speaks at a United Nations meeting (09:36), and, as head of the U.N. Relief and Rehabilitation Agency, he supervises the exporting of grain to Europe. La Guardia travels to Europe and inspects a camp for displaced peoples. La Guardia speaks at a U.N. conference in Switzerland (10:30). He returns from Europe, climbing out of a plane (10:50). The episode concludes with photographs and film clips of La Guardia, the “Great Crusader.”
Fiorello Henry La Guardia (December 11, 1882 – September 20, 1947) was an American politician. He is best known for being the 99th Mayor of New York City for three terms from 1934 to 1945 as a Republican. Previously he had been elected to Congress in 1916 and 1918, and again from 1922 through 1930. Irascible, energetic, and charismatic, he craved publicity and is acclaimed as one of the greatest mayors in American history. Only five feet, two inches (1.57 m) tall, he was called "the Little Flower" (Fiorello is Italian for "little flower").
La Guardia, a Republican who appealed across party lines, was very popular in New York during the 1930s. As a New Dealer, he supported President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, and in turn Roosevelt heavily funded the city and cut off patronage for La Guardia's enemies. La Guardia revitalized New York City and restored public faith in City Hall. He unified the transit system, directed the building of low-cost public housing, public playgrounds, and parks, constructed airports, reorganized the police force, defeated the powerful Tammany Hall political machine, and reestablished employment on merit in place of patronage jobs. La Guardia is also remembered for his WNYC radio program "Talk to the People," which aired from December 1941 until December 1945.
La Guardia was seen as a domineering leader who verged on authoritarian but whose reform politics were carefully tailored to address the sentiments of his diverse constituency. He won elections against the historically corrupt Tammany Hall political system, presided during the Great Depression and World War II, implemented New Deal welfare and public works programs in the city, and gave political support to immigrants and ethnic minorities. He was also supported by President Roosevelt. La Guardia was known as a reform mayor who helped clean out corruption, brought in experts, and made the city responsible for its own citizens. His administration engaged new groups that had been kept out of the political system, gave New York its modern infrastructure, and raised expectations of new levels of urban possibility.
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The greatest drama, a memorable story of the great among us written by you, the people, it's chapter, the Crusader, the story of fiorello laguardia, the name Fiorello an Italian means little flower, but fiorello laguardia was no shrinking violet.
He was a past master of rabble-rousing, his oratory, fighting spirit and passion for the truth, as he saw it made him one of the great Crusaders of his time, but LaGuardia had a softer side.
He could enjoy a good book as much as he enjoyed a good fight.
The son of an army band master, he loved music, very good book.
Far as a great admirer, rich Wagner, you know, I would sooner have written his music and be dead all these years, then even to be a big shot and alive.
Today, nineteen eighty-two the little flower was born in the Lower East Side of New York City.
His parents were Italian immigrants.
The slum district was a political stronghold of Tammany.
Hall evictions happened often as a young lawyer.
Laguardia fought the battles of the poor and ran for Congress on the Republican ticket in 1916 he was elected.
It was his first victory over Tammany and his beginning.
As a crusader, then the First World War volunteering for the Air Force LaGuardia became a bomber pilot fought in Italy and came out of the war.
A hero back in Congress LaGuardia resumed his crusade, kidding out in all directions.
He battled against prohibition, high rents and child labor.
Then in 1928 he made a sensational investigation of a great sea tragedy, convinced that the s4 submarine disaster was due to carelessness.
Laguardia went down in a sister ship and was trapped on the bottom hours later he was rescued when the s4 was salvaged.
He cleared the Navy of blame in the disaster.
It had been caused.
He said not by official carelessness but by the dangerous nature of submarines.
His own clothes brush with death proved it a year later with handsome Jimmy Walker's his opponent.
He ran for mayor of New York City, but Walker was then the idol of New York's millions.
He defeated LaGuardia easily the rubber a little Crusader bounced back running again for mayor in 1933.
The issue was reformed.
Exploding a New York like a package of firecrackers LaGuardia, shouted himself hoarse, denouncing draft in corruption, no time for saab stop and whining.
Now was the time to fight to fight for the best interest of our city, and we asked you to enlist to unless it is forces with the republican fusion ticket gets back of this ticket and all election day will it be able to give the city the right kind estate administration facility.
This time success from the slums of New York fiorello laguardia had risen to the mayor's office, the start of a new career as a reformer taking office as mayor of New York, City fiorello laguardia, set out to make good his campaign.
Promises of municipal reform for secretaries were kept busy as he plunged into the big job of cleaning up the city government.
It was another crusade.
The police department was overhaul when LaGuardia was finished, the Bluecoats were Railly New York's finest.
The city's run-down prisons got a stiff dose of the same clean up medicine.
The little flower started a vast program of slum clearance down with a old tenements reading spots of disease and crime.
The fire department at a special place in his honor is affection.
He dashed two large blazes with the excitement of a small boy and made New York's firefighters among the best in the world, with equal zest, the little flower crusaded against gamblers and broke up the city's records left.
The gamblers tinhorn racketeers and gangsters take notice that they have to keep away from the yard.
From now on, thus laguardia cleaned up New York literally for years, the la guardias had lived on the edge of poverty.
Now they and the two children could enjoy the comforts provided by the mayor's substantial salary, giving up active politics, mrs.
LaGuardia settled down to the job of housewife and mother, but for Fiorello, the Crusades continued and the latest target of his righteous anger without all Hitler in 1939 alarmed by Nazi, aggressions in Europe, the little flower warned of the growing danger to democracy at the World's Fair.
That year, he proposed a statue of Hitler for the chamber of horrors.
Germany protested loudly undaunted.
The little Crusader led the parade on opening day in 1940 another opening day celebration.
This time it was the Guardia Airport at the dedication of the huge airfield he again called for preparedness against the totalitarians.
When the Second World War came with its threat of air raids, the first director of civilian defense was fiorello laguardia.
He helped set up and train america's local air defense units, always the show man laguardia was forever doing things that endeared him to New Yorker in 1945.
He broadcast the comic strips keeping the children informed on the latest activities of Dick Tracy.
It was wet water, the doors of the laundry back in a row pretty easily Inglis back toward their wagon and he's counting his money.
Two three four thousand now he's getting into the hundreds, 600 700 800 and the picture shows hand of breathless stretching out.
She's got hold of that part.
Remember I'm party to from the van heuliez gardeners flat to put the money in and crush she crashes.
On his head knocked out.
It was one of la guardias last broadcasts.
He had decided not to run again for mayor the last day as mayor of New York LaGuardia felt that 12 years was enough for any man.
He turned the office over to his successor, William O'dwyer, for once in his life that tough little warrior had nothing to say, as he left City Hall to choked with emotion for words almost at once with all his energy laguardia undertook a great task for the United Nations to bind up the wounds of a war shattered world to find food wherever it may be, and to take it to hungry people, fields of wheat in western United, States and Canada.
The hustling director of unruh wanted that wheat for the starving peoples of Europe and Asia laguardia supervised the week collection and started the precious grain on its way to the needy.
Then a whirlwind trip to Europe to inspect the refugee camps.
The children of the caps ran to meet him and their parents poured out thanks.
In Switzerland a conference of the UN relief administration, director-general LaGuardia, presided over delegates from every land from good government Crusades.
He had climbed high leader of a movement to save the lives of millions of people.
Although he wasn't aware of illness, laguardia was mortally sick on his return from Europe reporting on his mission.
He said, and it will take a long time, the people of Europe to recover entirely from this war.
In the meantime, the leadership for peace having come to us, we must live up to that great responsibility.
One year later, the rugged little warrior was dead struck down by cancer.
He left a stirring record of accomplishment in war.
He was a hero in Congress, a farsighted reformer in New, York City, a great mayor.
He was a man of many contradictions, but fiorello laguardia was always on the side of the underdog.
A great crusader be with us again next week at this time, when the greatest drama through film biographies of the great among us again comes your way.