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ELIE WIESEL’S TRIP TO DISNEYLAND

As the world mourns the loss of author, activist, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, who died July 2 at the age of 87, a rare piece from his early journalistic career has come to light. Author Menachem Butler has unearthed a cache of 1,000 articles Wiesel wrote when he first came to America in the 1950s and filed dispatches for the Jewish Daily Forward; the venerable newspaper known as the “Forverts” by its largely Yiddish-speaking readers. (This was before he gained international acclaim for his Holocaust memoir Night.) Included in this material is an account of a 1957 cross-country road trip, including a stop at Disneyland, which was then just two years old.

Disneyland-600How did this eloquent writer and social activist view Walt Disney’s creation? What would a man who had experienced the ultimate horror of concentration camps make of the “happiest place on earth?”

The answers may surprise you. I am grateful to several friends who sent this article along from Tablet Magazine. It was published just days before Wiesel’s passing in New York City.

To read the piece, click HERE.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

2 comments

  1. Carl LaFong says:

    Wiesel’s childhood was stolen from him, so it’s good that he was able to retrieve some small part of it years later at Disneyland.

  2. Claude Vecht-Wolf says:

    Thank you for highlighting this, Leonard. It’s a touching piece and the video at the end is a real treat!

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