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Documentary Reveals Curious George Creators Escaped From Paris During Nazi Invasion

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Margret and Hans Rey, creators of Curious George (du Vinage/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Margret and Hans Rey, creators of Curious George (du Vinage/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

In 1939, Curious George made his first appearance in Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys. In 1941, he achieved title character status with the book Curious George. This beloved monkey has since had decades of adventures and also moved into television and the movies. (In the 2006 film, Will Ferrell provided the voice of the Man with the Yellow Hat.)

Yet as universally recognized as George may be, most people know little about his creators, Hans and Margret Rey. (Hans died at 78 in 1977; his wife Margret passed at 90 in 1996.)

Filmmaker Ema Ryan Yamazaki wants to change that with her documentary Monkey Business. (More about that momentarily.) After all, the couple had adventures every bit as remarkable as anything experienced by George. Both from Jewish families from Hamburg, Germany, they moved to Brazil where they married in 1935. (Together, they created the books: Hans was the illustrator while they wrote the stories jointly.) A “vacation” to Paris wound up stretching on for four years, to the point they were in the city when the Nazis invaded and were forced to escape with nothing to assist them but their Brazilian passports and a tandem bicycle.

To learn more about their journey from occupied France back to Brazil and finally on to the United States, click here. To support Yamazaki’s Kickstarter and help complete Monkey Business, click here.

It was a sea of yellow hats at the "Curious George Casting Contests" as scores of children showcased their "inner monkey" in an attempt to win a role in an upcoming animated film. To celebrate the September 26 DVD release of "Curious George," Universal Studios Home Entertainment hosted casting contests and "Curiosity and Creativity Days" in eight cities nationwide. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc for Universal Home Video)
It was a sea of yellow hats at the “Curious George Casting Contests” as scores of children showcased their “inner monkey” in an attempt to win a role in the animated film. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Universal Home Video)