Wembley, 1925

The film with the greatest number of Oscar nominations this year is The King’s Speech, directed by Tom Hooper, and starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, and Guy Pearce. It tells the story of Prince Albert, a son of King George V of the British Empire, who suffered as a stutterer, and needed to overcome this issue in order to better lead his nation and empire during WWII against Hitler, Germany and Nazism.

During the film, King George V passes away. He is the same King George for whom streets are named in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. He is the King George who ruled over Palestine during the post World War One British Mandate.

His son, the Duke of York, becomes King George VI, the subject of the film. He is the monarch who watched over the independence of India and other parts of the Empire, and sat on the throne in 1948, when the State of Israel was recognized.

And what about my Jewish perspective? No. Not that it is distributed by The Weinstein Company, who I guess you can say got Prince Albert in the can(ister). No, I direct your attention to the screenwriter, David Seidler.

Seidler was born in London 73 years ago, and like Prince Albert, developed a profound childhood stutter.

As WWII erupted, and the Blitz terrorized England, Seidler’s parents moved the family to America. His paternal grandparents perished in a Nazi death camp. Seidler and his family were nearly killed on their voyage to America by a German torpedo.

Seidler’s mother recommended that her stuttering son, David, listen to the stammering King George VI. The king’s speeches gave Seidler hope; the king became his role model and boyhood hero. Seidler’s uncle, also afflicted with a stutter, was actually treated for four years by Lionel Logue, the king’s therapist, who is portrayed by Geoffrey Rush in the film.

David Seidler, Oscar Nominee

Seidler has toiled in Hollywood as a writer for decades, having written horror films, B-movies, and the celebrated scripts for “Tucker” and for “Onassis, The Richest Man In The World.” For many of these decades, he has harbored a desire to write about King George VI and his speech problem, but he promised the Queen Mother (King George VI’s wife, and Queen Elizabeth II’s mother), that he would wait until after she passed away to portray the speech therapy sessions on stage or film. Little did he realize she would live over a century, but the wait has proved worthwhile.

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