David Zucker, director of such classic off-the-wall comedies like Airplane!, The Naked Guns, and Scary Movies, discusses his recently published book, "Before the Invention of Smiling," described as part family history, part scrapbook, part autobiography and part Zucker’s “rantings.”
From as early as he could remember, growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the 1950s, David would listen as his grandmother, Sarah Zucker, would tell tales of her upbringing in a tiny village in turn-of-the-century Hungary. He was fascinated hearing of her escape overnight across the border, and journey to America. After moving to Los Angeles to establish his film career, David returned to Milwaukee for a weekend in 1976 to sit down with his grandmother, then 86, to record the whole story. It wasn’t until twenty years later, during post-production of Scary Movie 3, when he happened to review the transcript, that he was struck with the extent to which his own family’s journey had shaped who he was and influenced the career he had embarked on.
Like everything David Zucker does, Before the Invention of Smiling, throws out any previous notions and does not follow a traditional book format, resulting in a unique and original creation that combines Sarah’s story with accompanying family and contemporary period photographs. The book also features illustrations by award-winning artists Cynthia Angulo and Gary Thomas to complete the visualization of the family’s history. David’s original notion of attributing special value to “photolooms,” (objects appearing in old photographs) and incisive commentary by other family members add a colorful dimension to the storytelling. Of course, the author doesn’t hold back his often outrageous and unorthodox views on architecture, history, decorating, genealogy, and of course, a generous dose of Zucker humor!