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Dr. Leo Buscaglia
His Books, Lectures and Newspaper Columns Made Him Beloved by Millions
by Cookie Curci
Anyone who enjoys reading a good book or watching public television is acquainted with the words of human-relations author Leo Felice Buscaglia (a.k.a. "The Hug Doctor"/ not one of his favorite titles.) The world-renowned writer, lecturer and former columnist for the New York Times sold nearly 11 million copies of his popular books during his career. Among them: Living, Loving, and Learning, Loving Each Other, Love, Bus 9 to Paradise and his 15th and last bestseller, The Love Cookbook. Writing extensively on the subject of love and selfless giving, Leo was known worldwide as the Doctor of Love.
Much of this Italian American's inherited kindness and caring was inspired by his parents who emigrated from Aosta, Italy, a region in NW Italy, bordering on France in the West and on Switzerland in the North.
There's an old saying, "If you want something done, ask a busy man to do it." Leo exemplified this motto. As founder of the Felice Foundation (pronounced "feh-lee-chay, the Italian word for peace and joy), he dedicated his time and funding to the education of elementary school children on the importance of selfless giving.
"Oftentimes, children need to be reminded that their greatest joy can be to give of themselves. The real gifts are those that are given just because you want to give them," Leo told the children. "My father used to tell us that it cost nothing to be nice, but, oh my, what rewards come from it." Inspired by this belief in human nature, The Felice Foundation produced a video, A Memory For Tino, based on a poignant children's book written by Leo. The Felice Foundation made the video available to elementary schools as a teaching tool on the importance of friendships and giving. Tino, the 10-year-old title character, extends himself to the "neighborhood witch," whom he soon discovers is no witch at all, but a kind and giving elderly lady with a great recipe for chocolate chip cookies. The story emphasizes intergenerational friendships; a subject many believe has been too long absent from elementary textbooks.
Some of Hollywood's finest participated in the production of this film. Henry Mancini donated the soundtrack; it was a project he believes strongly in. The film was dedicated to his memory. Actress Susan Sullivan, who played Tino's mother, also donated her work to the film. Production work was donated by Todd A-O Productions, as well as other companies. "Our goal," Leo said, "is to make this video available to all elementary schools and youth groups across the nation and eventually to all senior citizen programs at no charge to them." The Felice Foundation has covered production costs, but distribution charges still must be met.
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