Fantasy Life

Childhood polio allowed imagination to take flight, and a star was born

"Look at this!" I remember saying to my amazed parents when I slowly raised my left arm. Stricken with polio in 1949, I had lost all feeling in the arm and from the waist down. The doctors said I'd never walk again. I was 9. I shocked everyone by recovering 18 months later. But my guess is that I never would have become a filmmaker and developed such a rich fantasy life necessary for my work had it not been for my battle with the disease.

Back when I got it, polio was an epidemic in New York City. Without warning,...

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