As a young man in 1936, he contracted a streptococcal throat infection and developed life-threatening complications. His successful treatment with Prontosil, the first commercially available sulfonamide drug, avoided a risky surgical procedure which the White House medical staff had considered, and the subsequent headlines in the New York Times and other prominent newspapers heralded the start of the era of antibacterial chemotherapy in the United States.
He had five marriages, including one to Ethel du Pont of the du Pont family of industrialists. Their marriage produced two sons, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, III (b. 1938) and Christopher du Pont Roosevelt (b. 1941). The couple separated and formally divorced in 1949. In total, he had 5 children from his several marriages.
He graduated from Harvard University in 1937, and the University of Virginia School of Law on June 10 1940. During his graduation, his father, Franklin D. Roosevelt gave what is known as the "Stab in the Back" Speech, criticizing Italy's entry into the war.
Roosevelt, who was often referred to as "FDR Jr.", served as a member of the United States Congress, representing the Twentieth District of New York from 1949 to 1955. In 1949 he won a special election running as a candidate of the Liberal Party of New York, although he later ran on the Democratic ticket as well. Roosevelt unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1954, but was chosen by the Democratic State Convention (New York State did not have primaries for statewide office until 1968) as the Democratic candidate for Attorney-General. Roosevelt was defeated in the general election by Republican Jacob Javits.
He campaigned for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 West Virginia primary, and Kennedy later named him Under-Secretary of Commerce and chairman of the President's Appalachian Regional Commission.
He was senior partner in the New York law firm of Roosevelt and Freiden before and after his service in the Congress.