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Arts & Culture

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Jimmy Carter

Airs Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Revisit the lives of six recent presidents—John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush—in films from our award-winning collection. Beginning Aug. 8 on PBS AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.

"Jimmy Carter," part of the Peabody Award-winning AMERICAN EXPERIENCE collection The Presidents, will have an encore broadcast on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 on PBS. Jimmy Carter’s story is one of the greatest dramas in American politics. In 1980, he was overwhelmingly voted out of office in a humiliating defeat, but over the following decades became one of the most admired statesmen and humanitarians in America and the world. This film traces his rapid ascent in politics, dramatic fall from grace, and unexpected resurrection.

Rosalynn Carter, President Jimmy Carter and Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, USN (far right) aboard the submarine USS Los Angeles (SSN-688) in 1977.
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Rosalynn Carter, President Jimmy Carter and Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, USN (far right) aboard the submarine USS Los Angeles (SSN-688) in 1977.
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Jimmy Carter and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in formal dinner in the Niavaran Palace in Tehran, Iran. Dec. 31, 1977.
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Jimmy Carter and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in formal dinner in the Niavaran Palace in Tehran, Iran. Dec. 31, 1977.
President Jimmy Carter signs the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.
By Kightlinger, Jack E. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
President Jimmy Carter signs the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, 39th President of the United States from 1977-1981.
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, 39th President of the United States from 1977-1981.

Carter’s story is told by the people who know him best. Wife Rosalynn provides a rare glimpse of the inner life of their marriage, his early career, and political struggles. Son Chip speaks with candor about the president who was his father, and the life of this political family. Others appearing in the film include Vice President Walter F. Mondale, press secretary Jody Powell, budget director Bert Lance, pollster Patrick Caddell, U.N. ambassador Andrew Young, congressman Dan Rostenkowski, and Carter’s most important biographers, Douglas Brinkley and Peter Bourne.

The program also features Carter family home movies, as well as rare film of Carter’s final hours in the Oval Office, when he and his advisors waited in vain for the release of the Americans who had been held hostage in Tehran for 444 days.

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Carter was the first president to confront the challenge of militant Islam, then embodied by the Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Iranian revolution. Carter was also the first president to embark on what would prove to be the excruciating road to peace in the Middle East. But in the end, he would be undone by his failure to secure the release of the hostages and by a plummeting economy.

The documentary shows how Carter’s political redemption was accomplished by Carter himself. The memories of his presidency—gas lines, inflation, recession, the Iran hostage crisis, an ineffectual and fractured administration, and the so-called national malaise—would be eclipsed, finally, by his post-presidential successes as a peacemaker in the world’s most troubled areas, and his emergence as a champion for the poor in his own country.

THE PRESIDENTS COLLECTION ON DEMAND

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE recently launched The Presidents, an all-new digital portal showcasing more than 750 assets from the Peabody Award-winning collection of films about our nation’s most important leaders. The portal allows viewers to screen full-length films, delve deeper with experts and living witnesses, and examine more than 200 primary source documents. Video galleries on The Presidents site explore how different presidents faced issues including the economy, war, dealing with a crisis, and abuses of power.

You can download The Presidents Collection on iTunes, or buy The Presidents DVD pack at ShopPBS.org.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and you can follow @AmExperiencePBS on Twitter.

CREDITS:

Written, produced, and directed by Adriana Bosch. Editor: James Rutenbeck. Co-Producer: David Condon. Associate Producer: Julie Rosenberg. Music: Mason Daring. Narrator: Linda Hunt.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is a production of WGBH Boston. Senior Producer: Susan Bellows. Managing Director: James E. Dunford. Executive Producer: Mark Samels.

Carter and Crisis: Rescuing Hostages

"Mounting pressure to rescue hostages in Iran led Jimmy Carter to order a rescue operation. "We can no longer depend on diplomacy

Carter on the Enemy: Revolutionary Iran

"Americans were held hostage at the US Embassy in Iran after Carter welcomed the Shah into the United States for medical treatment in 1979. "It was a defining event

Carter on the Economy: Energy Crisis

"Carter asked the American people to cut down their energy usage during a fireside chat on February 2

Carter and the Economy: Curbing Inflation

"In the summer of 1979

Carter and Military Service: Nuclear Submarine Officer

"Jimmy Carter learned punctuality