Curious George Escaped the Nazi Invasion

From the NY Times, By Edward Rothstein Published: March 25, 2010

The mischievous traveling monkey that became a childhood favorite, Curious George, might never have become an American curiosity had it not been for the Nazi invasion of France.

His creators escaped oppression, and he eventually became an icon.

Now The Jewish Museum, in New York is honoring thier achievement in a new exhibit that shares the story of the husband-and-wife creators of the “good little monkey,” H.A. and Margret Reys were German Jews living in Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion. During their five-month escape in 1940, they fled on bicycles with their drawings, including one of a mischievous monkey then called Fifi.

"If the Reys had not escaped from France by bicycle to Spain to Portugal, we would have never known Curious George," said the museum's director of education. The Reys created the monkey character that is always on the run because it represented themselves always on the run.

Fifi’s name was later changed to George once the couple arrived in the U.S. because publisher Houghton Mifflin had doubts about the name Fifi for a boy monkey. The Reys have sold tens of millions of copies around the world. The exhibit, titled "The Wartime Escape: Margret and H.A. Rey's Journey from France," is based on a 2005 children's book by Louise Borden about the Reys. The display will show Allan Drummond's original illustrations of Borden's book explaining the couple's story.

“Curious George Saves the Day” (through August 1, 2010 at The Jewish Museum in New York, then at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum from November 14-March 13, 2011) chronicles the Reys’ daring escape — and how their fictional stowaway lent a hand.

Read the NY Times Article here: