'Casablanca' Screenwriter's Son Can't Get His Oscar Statuette Insured
Leslie Epstein keeps the Oscar his father, Philip, won in 1944 in a safe.
This story first appeared in the March 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Leslie Epstein keeps the Oscar his father, Philip, won in 1944 for writing Casablanca — which he co-wrote with his twin brother Julius and Howard Koch — locked in a safe ("I can't get insurance for it"). But that doesn't mean it's far from sight. The novelist and Boston University writing professor, 78, turned a photograph he took of the statuette into a bookmark so it would always be near. "I only knew my father until the age of 13 [Philip died of cancer in 1952], so this stays with me."
Leslie's daughter Anya, 45, a television writer (The Affair), says her strongest memories aren't of her grandfather, whom she never knew, but of her great-uncle Julius, who was like a de facto grandfather to her (her daughter Eve's middle name is Julius).
Having an Oscar in a family of writers made the career choice for Anya, who is married to Oscar-nominated screenwriter Dan Futterman, "inevitable, even though I resisted." (Her brothers, twins Paul, 42, a social worker, and Theo, the Chicago Cubs president, resisted the lure of Hollywood.) Leslie says that on the surface, Julius downplayed the accomplishment of winning, jokingly calling Casablanca "a slick piece of shit." But deep down he really cared. "When Koch tried to claim all that [writing] credit, he went to bed for a week."