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Maurice Sendak’s Buffalo Connection

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Maurice Sendak, known best for his classic children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are” died today, but did you know the famed author had a connection to Buffalo? Sendak shared his birthday with Mickey Mouse, and the loveable mouse was an inspiration in Sendak’s work. So when the Buffalo International Film Festival celebrated Mickey’s 80th birthday by screening 10 classic Mickey Mouse films at Shea’s in 2009, Sendak contributed a written tribute to Mickey Mouse for the program.

“I had known Maurice for many years and knew that he celebrated his birthday on the same day as Mickey Mouse,” said Edward Summer, Executive Director of BIFF. “So I called him up at his home in Connecticut and convinced him to give us a brief statement for the program book. It poured out of him in a moment and we printed it — word for word, and with his approval — without any changes.”

Here’s what he wrote in the Shea’s program:

“Mickey was my hero. He was the delight of my life. Life at home in the 1930s was not a pleasure. Going to the movies was. And it was only a block away! I would go with my sister. She said when the cartoon began, I would go berserk. When that great, great shining [Mickey Mouse] face with yellow sunbeams shining out in all directions came onto the screen, I would go bonkers and scream and holler. My sister would hold me from one side, my brother from the other. The bright colors so excited me, they brought out my first creative impulses. I learned from Mickey that there was such a thing as “Pleasure,” that “Pleasure” could actually be in the world. The capacity of a little creature to do that changed my life forever. Happy Birthday, Mickey!”

Signed Maurice Sendak, April 2009

Today as the world mourns the loss of one of its greatest children’s author, his sentiments for Mickey Mouse, somehow seem apropo for the Author who brought so much delight to children with “Where the Wild Things Are”

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