The victim of a house fire in Rancho Mirage on Friday has been identified as Gladys Irene Roosevelt, 70, a former wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s eldest son, James.
Riverside County Deputy Coroner Sabas Rosas said an autopsy has determined that Mrs. Roosevelt, who was accused of stabbing her former husband in 1969 as he was preparing divorce proceedings, died from smoke and gas inhalation.
Her body was found in the bedroom of her Biskra Road residence, where she lived alone. Mrs. Roosevelt’s cat also died in the blaze.
Firefighters confined the fire to the bedroom, and the total damage was estimated at $20,000. Rosas said a cigarette may have caused the fire, which broke out around 6:30 a.m. while Mrs. Roosevelt was asleep.
She was placed in a psychiatric clinic after the May, 1969, stabbing incident in Geneva, where Roosevelt was working for an American investment firm. She reportedly was suffering from severe depression. Roosevelt also was hospitalized briefly for a stab wound in his back.
The former Gladys Irene Owens married Roosevelt on July 9, 1956. She was his third wife. They had one son, Hall Delano Roosevelt.
The Roosevelts divorced in September, 1969, and he remarried. Roosevelt, 79, a former congressman and one-time California Democratic gubernatorial and Los Angeles mayoral candidate, currently is a business consultant in Newport Beach.