The student news site of Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School

The Schreiber Times

The student news site of Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School

The Schreiber Times

The student news site of Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School

The Schreiber Times

Living Legends Article

At no matter what point you are in your career, taking your first big steps into an industry is a massive accomplishment.  Schreiber Senior Ben Salit is beginning his journey  in the world of film with his first official documentary Living Legends.  Over the course of this documentary, Salit was able to interview inspiring people, who deserve an immense amount of gratitude and applause for their work throughout their lives..  These stories and the film process came to light in a recent interview with Salit, who explained the depth of his project. 

Over the course of this process Salit came across many inspiring stories, from the last century.  All of the experiences that were shared from the many participants in this project have lived touching lives.  Their stories can teach everyone that not only is anything possible, but alsobeing kind to others while doing something you love is one of the greatest gifts.  Ben was inspired to start this project, not only from his love of film, but from his own very personal legend.  His grandfather, who was a veteran who served during World War II, had a large part in making Salit realize that he wanted to work on a documentary like this one. 

“Ever since I was younger, I enjoyed listening to stories from my grandparents about their lives.  I especially liked hearing stories from my grandpa, about his time serving in World War II.  When he passed away, I realized that there is a whole generation of incredible people that won’t be alive when I am an adult,” said senior Ben Salit. 

Of course searching for many extraordinary people, who lived during the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s proved to be a difficult task due to many passing on, or not being able to come into contact for one reason or another.  Determined and on a mission, Salit researched and spent large chunks of time going through lists such as “Last Living” or flipping through movie and film websites that were targeted towards his desired time period.  Through these websites, phone numbers and emails appeared, and led Salit to some remarkable people.  

While the research process took some time, it was clear it would be a success.  Salit made sure to focus on many different lives and career paths, to ensure that diverse stories and experiences would be brought to his audience’s attention.  All of the careers that are on display in this documentary contributed and were very prominent in the entertainment business.  Mr. Salit interviewed Marilyn Knowlden, who was a famous actress in the 1930’s, as well as Willie Ito who worked at Walt Disney, and many others such as Earl Holliman and Lee Grant just to name a few.  Each person’s story touched Salit and pushed him further in this journey. 

“When I interviewed Marilyn Knowlden, she told me about Louise Beavers, an African American actress who refused to hug the young actors on set.  When Knowlden asked her about it Beavers explained her worry that their parents would be upset at an African American woman hugging their children.  Immediately Knowlden gave Beavers a big hug, and right away the children on set did too.  Stories like this reinforced why I want to make documentaries,” said Ben Salit on his story from Marilyn Knowlden. 

Small moments like these were massive especially during the 1930’s, and this one was an act of kindness that was clearly not forgotten.  Ms. Marilyn Knowlden was a large figure in the entertainment industry from a young age, and so was Willie Ito.  

Mr. Ito’s story is the pinnacle of believing you can achieve anything, even after going through very hard times.  Willie Ito spent his career working for big companies such as Walt Disney and Hanna-Barbera (which joined with Warner-Bros. in 2001), but during his younger years he was forcefully placed in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.  Once being freed, Mr. Ito was able to explore his passion as a cartoon animator, and would go on to animate timeless classics such as “Looney Tunes,” “The Flintstones,” and “Lady and the Tramp.’

Other stories such as Marjoire Latzko’s, was almost a stroke of luck on who became America’s Sweetheart. 

“Marjorie Latzko had no connections in the music industry and became an award-winning singer by being in the right place at the right time,” said Salit. 

From these stories Salit was able to rediscover ones that could have been lost on countless generations.  He was able to go across the country to get in touch with each special member he was looking to get to know, while also talking over the phone with family members who all gave gracious remarks about their legendary relatives.  It is important to remember that all of these incredible people lived during very different times, and to understand their story is to appreciate the history of modern culture to its fullest. 

“These generations won’t be here forever, so it is really important to listen while they are still with us.  Even though the world is constantly changing, there are always going to be similarities that bond past and present lives,” said Salit, reflecting on his documentary experience. 

Ben Salit is planning on continuing his passion for film in the arts, and will be attending Emory University as a Film and Media major in the fall.  He hopes to continue his love of sharing others stories and experiences with the world.  After hearing these stories, and understanding the intensive process that went into this documentary, it is obvious that not only the amazing legends in the film, but also Ben Salit, deserve huge congratulations and appreciation for making these stories known.