About this portrait: Made up of a combination of
my ALA speech, 25 things (below) and a photo. CLICK to enlarge if you are so inclined.
HOLLY GOLDBERG SLOAN… was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and spent a peripatetic childhood (following her Professor father and architect mother) living in California, The Netherlands, Istanbul, Turkey (where she went to high school), Washington D.C. and Oregon.
She attended college at Wellesley in Massachusetts (with her junior year of study done at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire). After graduating, Holly went to New York City and took a job at Grey Advertising answering phones and writing at night and on weekends (and when no one was paying attention to what she was doing at work).
A year later she had moved to Los Angeles where she sold her first screenplay at the age of twenty-four to Paramount Pictures. Holly continued to write, but supported herself for the next ten years by working in commercial advertising as a production assistant, then a script supervisor, a producer, and finally as a commercial director.
The year 1982 was a big year for Holly, because that was also when she got married to Chuck Sloan. They were married for ten years, and had two sons. While their marriage didn't work out, their friendship did. Holly is certain that none of the things that she has achieved would have been possible without his support.
Holly has written eight successful family feature films, three for the Walt Disney Company, including the baseball classic Angels in the Outfield, and the soccer movie, The Big Green, which she also directed (filmed in Austin, Texas). She also wrote the Universal Pictures comedy Made in America starring Whoopi Goldberg, Ted Danson and Will Smith, and the late Steve Irwin’s feature film for MGM: Collision Course: The Crocodile Hunter Movie.
Holly wrote and directed the children’s film Heidi 4 Paws where she put dogs in costumes in all of the roles of the famous children’s story. This film used the voice talent of
1. I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. My older brother Tim was already 20 months old and living in a Skinner Box, which is made of glass like a fish tank. They didn't put me in one of those. Just weeks after I was born, my parents packed up and drove across country for my Dad's first teaching job which was at Stanford. No baby car seat or anything. They just wrapped me up and put me in a basket. They dried my diapers on the car antennae. They were pulling an old blue trailer with three wheels and all their stuff. It was our version of the Grapes of Wrath.
2. My parents bought a house at the end of their first year in Palo Alto. It was a wreck and they fixed it up. This was the beginning of something that to this day is part of who my mother is. She loves buildings, and she loves projects. The Palo Alto house had fruit trees in the back and one was an apricot tree. Once I learned to walk, they say I loved to be outside in the garden. And when the apricot tree was in season, I could not be stopped from going out and eating apricots until I got sick to my stomach. They said I even climbed out a low window to get to the tree. Apparently, my mother would yell at me: "No, No, stay away from the apricot tree!". This was my first sentence. A command to myself. I did not heed the warning. To this day I can eat a bag of apricots at a single sitting.
3. When I turned 2 years old, my little brother Randy was born, and we moved again, this time to Oregon. It is here where my first memories begin. My parents doubled down, investing the money that they'd made from the California property into a house designed by a prominent local architect. It was modern. And big. And way cool. It was on a really large lot and next to a 3000 acre park at the top of the hill. We'd socio-economically jumped a level, which I didn't realize until 16 years later. My parents never had a savings account. Nor any kind of college fund. Or retirement account. They believed in spending every dollar that came in the door. And they believed that one day my Grandparents in Chicago would die and solve any kind of potential money problem. The joke was on them. My Grandparents lived to be 98 and 97, respectfully. But the Grandparents did, bless them, pay for me to go to college, so the parents got that part right.
4. When I was four years old, my father went to work as a consultant to the Peace Corps. We moved to Washington DC so that he could do something which had to do with designing entrance tests for the newly formed agency. We lived in Georgetown and I have some memories, but I think the memories are from looking at the old photographs....
5. On one of our many drives across country, we left my little brother in a gas station. We didn't realize until about thirty miles later. There was a lot of tunnel vision in those days. Everyone seemed to always be doing their own thing. My parents considered themselves sort of beatniks with kids. They had us protesting Vietnam and we don't go to school the first year on Earth Day. Our house was filled with paperback books and my father was always reading. If he wasn't reading his scientific journals or Playboy magazine (such interesting articles!), he was reading a novel. My big brother collected all of the old Playboys and kept them in his room. He may have sold some at school for money.
6. My dad shaved his head way before it was a cool thing to do. But he had lots of hair on his back and my mom clipped it with dog grooming shears. Like he was a sheep. Both of my parents love good food and a good time. Those are key ingredients to a good childhood.
7. For a long time the street we lived on in Oregon was a dead-end. We were close with all of our neighbors. Sort of one big tribe, with my family being the kooky-ones. Our next-door neighbors were part of our family. They were stylistically different from us in every way—and we loved them with all our hearts. Harry was a successful business person. A self-made man. He'd been in WWII and was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. But I only heard him speak about that once in my whole life, and that was when I was interviewing him in Junior High School for a paper. Harry was like a cheerful Clint Eastwood. He was ruggedly handsome and knew how to fix or do just about anything. He owned and operated the most successful gravel quarry in the County and I think he'd succeeded personally and professionally beyond his wildest dreams. He was incredibly generous. With everything in his life. And he was married to....
8. Bertie. She deserves her own paragraph. Bertie was heaven. And now she's in heaven, if there is one. Bertie was of Mexican American heritage who grew up in Los Angeles. Everything to her was about family. And she considered me part of her family. The greatest thing that happened to us in moving to Oregon was moving next door to the Weisses.
9. The other neighbors were life changers as well. The Coles. And the Goldens. Kathy Golden appeared the summer of fifth grade from Cleveland, Ohio. With five brothers and sisters, and her former-jet-pilot father who was now a brain surgeon, and her college beauty queen mother, they moved into the Anderson's old house and the good times really rolled. Kathy and I ended up going off to Wellesley together. I never would have even applied there had it not been for her.
10. I can remember teaching kids in kindergarten how to braid things.
11. I can remember almost exactly what all of my grade school teachers looked like and I can remember what the school rooms looked like. They posted what was for lunch right next to the door and this fascinated me. To this day I like menus a lot.
12. When I was in third grade we moved to the Netherlands for a year. We rode our little bicycles to school and in my mind we rode for miles. I have no idea how long it really was. But I wore a dress with tights every day, even when it was snowy and the cobblestones had ice on them. There was a bakery three blocks from our house and I would go there for cookies and I can still see exactly how it looks inside in my mind.
13. That summer, we traveled all around Europe and lived in a tent. I had two dresses, a pair of shorts and a pair of pants and a swimsuit. My mom washed my underwear at the campsites at night in the sinks in the bathrooms. They always dried stiff.
14. My little brother pooped on a path on a hillside in Italy and that's when they found out why we had such bad stomach aches. The next day we were de-wormed. We stayed in that campground an extra day because we couldn't be in the car traveling.
15. In Yugoslavia, we camped in a remote area and ran into a band of Gypsies. Real Gypsies. They totally freaked me out. But my parents kept saying how great they were and they made me take out my jump rope and play with the Gypsy girls who all had earrings and scarves and looked, well, like Gypsies. But what I remember most about the Gypsy girls was that they smelled like they hadn't taken a bath in a year. I'd never smelled that before. And they kept touching my wheat-colored hair which I guess looked exotic. I gave them my jump rope after this terrifying play session. I remember wanting to give it to them so that I could get away from them and get them to stop touching my hair. But it was heralded as a great act of generosity by my parents when it was just the opposite. I was buying them off. My father got out his camera and tried to take some pictures of me with the Gypsy kids and then they asked for money and threw rocks at him. It got ugly fast and they already had my jump rope. I remember questioning my parents judgment. It wasn't the first time.
16. When I was eight years old we crossed the Atlantic in an ocean liner. It took 8 days. They were magical. The ship had a bowling alley on board. We played bingo at night and they had contests where you would find the typo in the menu. I was eight years old and found the typo one morning and won a bottle of perfume. I still had it when I was in high school. That perfume only was used for very special events and grade school and junior high didn't afford many of those.
17. Our house in Oregon was heated by burning sawdust for the first ten years that we lived there. We had a whole room filled with sawdust and my mom shoveled it into the furnace about five times a day. Strangely, I have no memories of my father shoveling sawdust, but I know that he must have done this. Interesting.
18. My mother is a great bowler because she was in the Navy, and also because she's a good athlete. We went bowling as a family. Once my father split his pants straight down the crotch after hurling a ball down the lane. We went home right away after that and he didn't like how hard we were all laughing.
19. We had a pet goat. He smelled horrible, but I loved him. His eyes looked like yellow marbles glued into the sides of his smelly head.
20. In Istanbul, where I spent my junior year in high school, they had dead goats in the window for sale at the butcher shop. I always thought of Ernie when I saw them. If I were more sensitive, I'd have become a vegetarian, but I loved kebobs and ground lamb in a good stew.
21. I love my feet. I don't think anyone else ever has. I have very long toes.
22. Sometimes when I start writing I have trouble stopping. Anyone who knows me well has received email from me that looks like three pages from a book. Job hazard. I also have trouble with control when there is chocolate in the house. Or egg custard. Or spare ribs.
23. I fell off a chair-lift when I was eleven years old and landed in a pile of snow and it scared me so much I peed my pants. I'm very inflexible on my right side and I think it was from falling. I'm not sure about that but it makes some kind of sense. Harry Weiss, kind and wonderful neighbor mentioned above, was the person to ski over to help me. He also taught me to ride a bike.
24. When I was in seventh grade and living in Berkeley, California, I had a wonderful teacher named Addie Holsing. She taught a journalism class and we put out a daily newspaper. It was one page, front and back. Sort of like a blog today. I will remember that class and Addie until my last breath.
25. When I was a junior in high school my family moved to Istanbul, Turkey. The city and the people are magnificent. There are not words to describe the wonders of that year. And because of Facebook, I have many of my friends back in my life. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg. Not ironic. I mean that, truly.
I have made a living as a writer since I was in my early twenties. I've worked in film and television. Family entertainment. I've put words in the mouths of angels and elephants–soccer players and crocodile hunters.
But nothing has been as fulfilling as writing my book.
I believe that what we experience as we go through life—the incidents and actions, people and places—the small bits and the big pieces—are determinative. I wouldn't call it fate. And I wouldn't call it chance. For me it's something squishy in between
Angela Lansbury, Stephen Rea, Richard Kind, Majandra Delfino, and Julian Sands and recently aired on Public Television in the United States and Canada. For more information aboutHeidi 4 Paws, CLICK HERE.
The mother of two sons, Holly lives in Santa Monica, California with her husband, writer Gary Rosen. She is a sports fan, loves to cook (she is a contributing editor for Amy Ephron’s food blog, ONE FOR THE TABLE), and she has never met a dog she didn’t find captivating.
Holly considers her book I'll Be There to be the most rewarding thing she's ever done in her work life. She believes a perfect day to be one where she writes in the morning, takes a long walk by the Pacific Ocean in the afternoon, and she spends the evening with her family and friends around her large dining room table.
She likes to fall asleep reading a good book.
To find out more about her career in Hollywood CLICK HERE.
I was bit in the face by a baby alligator at premiere party for the Croc Hunter movie (see photo).
Scribe Holly Goldberg Sloan gets a little too close for comfort to a baby alligator, which nipped her nose at the pic's after-party causing a minor injury.
I have been hospitalized for a wasp attack and spider bites.
I was bit by a German Shepard in second grade and I'm still afraid of them.
I was bit by our neighbor's pet squirrel when I was little and it hurt more than you'd think.
I went to see the gorillas in Uganda and was shoved to the ground by the guide when the silverback male took an interest in my light hair and beat his chest in what they said was an aggressive manner.
I was knocked down by a lion who had my thigh in his mouth (I was assured he was just playing).
I was peed on by a leopard.
I have been pushed to the ground by a goat and then stepped on as he went after the raisins in my pocket.
I have come face to face in the woods with a bear (we both ran).
I did a commercial with a bald eagle who looked smarter than some of the crew members.
I have never swam with sharks.
But worked with a few .
Heidi 4 Paws was produced to entertain and educate young children.
It is my hope that this is accomplished by introducing classic literature to very young children (the story of Heidi was written in 1880, and is considered a landmark in children's literature, being one of the first stories told entirely from the point of view of a very young person).
By recreating the story using animals as the characters, young children are introduced to the idea that animals have feelings and are capable of complex relationships.
Heidi is a story imbued with strong values. It follows an orphan and her relationship with her grandfather and with a character of special needs (the wheelchair-bound Clara).
But it is also a story of the love of the wilderness and of nature, as Heidi longs to return to the mountains and to her humble home. The story of Heidi rejects the material (the wealthy Sesehunds), while at the same time, embracing the love and kindness of new friendships.
It is my hope that there is a strong literacy component to Heidi 4 Paws, and that children will either read the original story themselves, or have it read to them after viewing the movie.