Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Eloise and Me

Loved and admired by generations of children, the fictional child Eloise had a creative and loving birth, but a difficult childhood, as seen in a new documentary slated to be aired on HBO March 23rd.

Though Eloise’s charming face is known by many, few know -- or paid attention to -- the drama that occurred behind the scenes while the Eloise franchise grew in popularity a few years after the debut of the first book, Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grown-ups, in 1955.

The character of Eloise, the little girl who lives alone in the Plaza Hotel in New York, was created by singer/performer Kay Thompson and brought to visual life by the pen of Hilary Knight. But Knight and Thompson would end up in outs, and Knight has for many years been restricted from illustrating the character he so charmingly co-created.

All of this is explained in It’s Me, Hilary: the Man Who Drew Eloise, a documentary form portrait of Hilary Knight, an artist in some ways stunted by early success and haunted by his own failures while remaining devoted to his most famous creation.

Interestingly enough, the documentary came to be because, as explained in It’s Me, Hilary, a friend told Knight that Lena Dunham (Girls) had an Eloise tattoo (shown at left). Knight created a special drawing for Dunham that acted as a sort of introductory bouquet and the two have been fast friends since.

Dunham acts as narrator here as well as executive producer. The resulting portrait is honest, affectionate and truly entertaining.

The documentary debuts March 23rd on HBO, with other playdates happening into April.


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