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Phyllis Schlafly's Daughter Recalls The 'Mrs. America' She Knew

2014 Phyllis Schlafly Anne Schlafly Cori
Courtesy of Anne Schlafly Cori
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For Anne Schlafly Cori, Phyllis Schlafly isn’t just the grassroots warrior who stopped the Equal Rights Amendment. She was also “Mom.” Anne was one of six Schlafly kids growing up in Alton, Illinois, even while their mother became a national political force.

Today, the St. Louis-based Cori is chairman of the organization her mother founded, the Eagle Forum. She’s speaking out about “Mrs. America,” the new FX on Hulu series that debuts April 15, telling the story of Schlafly’s fight against the ERA. 

Cori said Thursday on St. Louis on the Air that the filmmakers did not respond to her attempts to reach out. She has been unable to see the series, and is anxiously awaiting its premiere. But she worries it fails to portray the mother she knew.   

The real Phyllis Schlafly, she said, was not a monster.

“The caricature I’m worried they are pushing is that she was mean, or cold,” Cori said. “And that she was not. She mentored so many women. … The loyalty that not only the people who worked for my mother, but who volunteered for my mother, those women are so loyal today to the work that she did. And they’re loyal because Phyllis Schlafly had integrity.” 

Listen:

Cori said her mother had no regrets about her role as a wife and mother, which kept her tethered to St. Louis even as her work took off. “She never had mixed feelings about motherhood,” Cori said. “She always considered motherhood to be her most important job, and the one she most relished. … I think she had more power and influence because she didn’t move to Washington.”

Cori also shared her thoughts on her aunt Eleanor Schlafly, a real-life St. Louisan portrayed in the web series by Jeanne Tripplehorn. Far from the sad spinster portrayed on the show, Cori said "Aunt Eleanor" had an active social life and was always dressed to the nines.

“I think there are many St. Louisans who had experience with the real Eleanor Schlafly, who was glamorous, socially active and had many boyfriends throughout her life,” she said. “She was a party girl who used her house for a multitude of entertaining. She ran her own foundation, and she was a force to be reckoned with.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The engineer is Aaron Doerr, and production assistance is provided by Charlie McDonald.

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Sarah Fenske served as host of St. Louis on the Air from July 2019 until June 2022. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.