'Curious George' collaborator dead in possible homicide
BOYNTON BEACH, Florida (AP) -- Alan Shalleck, who collaborated with the co-creator of "Curious George" to bring the mischievous monkey to television and a series of book sequels, was found dead outside his home, and police were treating the death as a possible homicide.
The bloodied body of Shalleck, 76, was found Tuesday covered in garbage bags in the driveway of his mobile home. Police said it was there for at least a day before a maintenance man discovered it.
"I went to drag it this morning and said, 'This is a body, this isn't garbage,"' maintenance supervisor Burt Venturelli said. "I could see blood all over the place."
Police were treating the case as a possible homicide, spokeswoman Sgt. Gladys Cannon said Wednesday, but she wouldn't disclose details about how Shalleck died.
Shalleck's death came just as "Curious George" is debuting as a full-length feature film this Friday, featuring the voices of Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore and Dick Van Dyke, among others.
Shalleck, 76, was the writer and director of more than 100 short episodes of "Curious George," which were seen on the Disney Channel.
The original series of seven Curious George books began in 1941, shortly after George's creators, H.A. Rey and his wife, Margret, fled to the United States from wartorn Europe. A precursor of the character had appeared in a book they did in France in 1939. Hans Rey did the illustrations and his wife wrote the stories.
Shalleck had approached Margret Rey about bringing Curious George to television in 1977, the same year her husband died. In addition to more than 100 five-minute TV shorts, Shalleck and Margret Rey wrote more than two dozen more books about George.
"I got $500 per 'Curious George' story, no royalties, no residuals," Shalleck told The Palm Beach Post in 1997. But the experience of working with Margret Rey was the high point of his life, he added.
She died in 1996 at age 90. Shalleck said she and her husband identified with their readers because they were children at heart.
"They always considered little children as little people and wanted to write for them as little people," he told The Associated Press in 1996.
A Syracuse University drama major, Shalleck got his start in 1950 in the CBS mailroom, working his way up to associate producer for "Winky Dink and You," a children's television show in which kids drew on a plastic film placed on the TV screen. He later produced children's films and formed his own company.
Two held in Curious George author's Florida death
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Two men have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Alan J. Shalleck, 76, who co-wrote "Curious George" books and helped bring the very curious little monkey to television.
Rex Spears Ditto, 29, and Vincent Puglisi, 54, were arrested shortly before midnight on Wednesday and confessed to a home invasion, murder and robbery of Shalleck, Sgt. Gladys Cannon of the Boynton Beach police said on Thursday.
Shalleck's bloodied body was discovered on Tuesday under a pile of plastic garbage bags in a driveway at Royal Manor Estates by a maintenance supervisor who went to haul away what appeared to be a pile of trash, police said.
The body may have been in the driveway for more than a day. Crime scene investigators found stab wounds and, once inside the home, several pools of blood leading to the master bathroom which was splattered with blood. Investigators found several knives and broken glass in the house.
Ditto and Puglisi made full confessions, according to Cannon, who said the men robbed Shalleck of jewelry and money from his checking account. Charges include first-degree murder, armed home invasion, aggravated battery of a person 65 years or older, and dealing in stolen property.
Shalleck began his collaboration with "Curious George" co-creator Margaret Rey nearly three decades ago, helping write sequels to the stories Rey originally produced with her late husband H.A. Rey and bringing the monkey to television.
Shalleck's death came just days before a big-screen version of "Curious George" debuts in movie theaters on Friday.
What a shame & what a tragedy.
Sounds too fishy to be true...I hate to be a cynic & callous, but sounds typical of Hollywood to want to drum up some publicity (whether it be good or, in this case, tragic) to get more interest. May Daddy Curious George RIP.