Don’t come to Starstruck looking for dirt. That’s not the Maltin way. But there are scores of amusing, often self-deprecating anecdotes and grace notes, such as Emma Thompson confession to Maltin her preference for Buster Keaton over her native countryman Charlie Chaplin.
In 2018, Maltin revealed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s four years earlier (“I’m healthy, I’m determined, and I’m grateful,” he characteristically tweeted). He refuses to let it slow him down. His blog, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy is available on leonardmaltin.com. He co-hosts the weekly “Maltin on Movies” podcast with his daughter, Jessie (over 300 episodes thus far). They also talk film and answer questions in a livestream every Sunday on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
When we spoke, he had just returned from a one-nighter in Akron, Ohio, where he discussed his career and living with the disease. Movies, he says, are the best medicine.
As you are the author of The Disney Films, I’d be remiss I didn’t ask you about Tommy Kirk, a Disney icon we just lost. When I was growing up, the movies he made, like “Old Yeller” and “The Shaggy Dog,” first made me love the movies. What are your memories of him?
“Old Yeller” was going to make its network debut on ABC on a Sunday night, and “Entertainment Tonight” sent me to the studio to interview Fess Parker, Dorothy McGuire, and Tommy Kirk. It was pretty cool. I didn’t recognize Tommy; I hadn’t seen him in years. It was shocking at first, frankly. I tried to find a non-judgmental way of asking, ‘Where have you been?’ He said, ‘I stopped working because of illness; they got sick of me.’
Then, I had a wonderful interview with him and Tim Considine for 2006 “Walt Disney Treasures” DVD release of “The Hardy Boys” (a serialized feature on “The Mickey Mouse Club.”) And it was really touching and heartwarming to see with my own eyes the utter admiration that Tim had for him.
And now to Starstruck. Katie Couric’s memoir was just published and, in the excerpts I’ve read, she takes the opportunity to settle scores with former colleagues, rivals and lovers, and just burns all her bridges. You find very little of this in Leonard Maltin’s memoir.