Buzzy historical drama Mrs. America follows conservative galvanizer Phyllis Schlafly‘s successful 1970s crusade against the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have guaranteed equal legal rights to all Americans regardless of sex. Along with Schlafly (Cate Blanchett), the FX show available on Hulu introduces a colorful cast of real-life characters from that time period—some of whom praised her polarizing voice, and others who thought she should “burn at the stake” for opposing the ERA.
Schlafly’s lawyer husband Fred Schlafly (John Slattery) plays a large role in Mrs. America, and so does her nemesis Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne). We’re introduced to women’s liberation movement leader Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman), onetime presidential hopeful Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba), congresswoman Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale), co-founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus Jill Ruckelshaus (Elizabeth Banks), and Rep. Philip Crane (James Marsden).
Crane, an early adopter of the anti-ERA movement, appears periodically throughout the nine-episode series, including to interview Schlafly on the talkshow Conservative Viewpoint. Here’s everything you need to know about the Republican from Illinois.
Crane won his House seat in 1969.
According to The Chicago Tribune, Crane became a leading figure in the national conservative movement during Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign. He was employed as the headmaster of an Illinois private school five years later, when then-Rep. Donald Rumsfeld resigned his post to join the Nixon administration. Crane took his seat in a 1969 special election.
He’s a key figure in the conservative movement.
During his time in Congress, Crane founded the Republican Study Committee, a conservative organization in the House with fewer than a dozen members. By 2011, it had more than 175 members, according to The New York Times. He also helped form the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank which touts itself as “a research and educational institution whose mission is to build and promote conservative public policies.”
Crane headed the American Conservative Union, an organization that rates conservative credentials of legislators in all 50 states. He was considered “one of the great intellectual leaders who pioneered the way for Ronald Reagan and convinced people like me that constitutional conservatism was vital,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told The Chicago Tribune at the time of Crane’s death in 2014.
Crane ran for president in 1980.
With “good looks that some compared to John F. Kennedy,” according to The New York Times, Crane put in his bid for office. However, according to the newspaper, his campaign was hurt by accusations that he divided conservative voters. He reportedly only got 7 percent of the vote in the Iowa primary, and 1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire. Crane quickly dropped out and endorsed Reagan.
Phyllis Schlafly was actually a guest on Crane’s TV show
The first episode of Mrs. America depicts Schlafly’s guest appearance on Crane’s television show Conservative Viewpoint. This actually happened in 1971: According to Illinois newspaper Elk Grove Herald, she discussed “the crisis in America’s defense posture.”