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‘Curious George’ collaborator found dead

Alan Shalleck worked on books, movies about the mischievous monkey
In this photo provided by Universal Pictures, Ted, The Man with the Yellow Hat (voiced by WILL FERRELL), backs away with George after George's finger-painting escapades in 'Curious George.'AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

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.