We all think we know Curious George, the rambunctious primate who’s been entertaining children since his first book was published in 1941. He’s been in television shows, blockbuster movies, and video games, shaping the lives of countless children.
Sunday, April 14, brings an opportunity to view the documentary Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators. The minds behind the iconic children’s character have a very interesting and unexpected story, documented here for the first time on film. Without giving too much away, the film tells the story of H.A. (Hans) and Margret Rey and their fantastical life filled with “adventure.”
They both grew up as Jews in early 20th century Germany, eventually parting ways before meeting again and marrying in Brazil in 1935. They lived their first four years together in Paris, only to escape the Nazi invasion by days, thanks to Hans’ ingenuity and makeshift bicycles. They rode those bikes many miles to the South of France, where they took a train to Portugal and then a boat to Brazil. From there, they managed to secure visas and make it to the United States, where they finally sold the original Curious George manuscript, along with three other stories, for $1,000.
Fittingly, the story is told using animation, photographs, and interviews with the people who knew the Reys. A special added part of the event occurs after the film when there will be a live Q&A session via Skype with the film’s director Ema Ryan Yamazaki. This event is free and open to the public.