A play and on film
With Joseph Schilkrant playing Otto and Susan Strasberg as Anne.
However, the book first achieves real popularity after it is adapted for the stage.
After a first adaptation for the stage by Meyer Levin is rejected by Otto, the couple Hackett-Goodrich work on the play from 1953. The play differs from the the book in many ways. However, Otto Frank believes that the essence of the diary has been preserved and he agrees to the piece being staged. The premiere takes place in the Cort Theater in New York City on October 5, 1955. For the New York City premiere of the play, Otto writes a letter to all those involved in the production. In this letter, he explains why it is impossible for him to attend.
The public and critics who do attend are very enthusiastic about the piece. The Diary of Anne Frank wins prestigious prizes including the Pulitzer for Theater, the Tony Award, and the New York Critic's Circle Award for Best Play. This great success also leads to it being staged in other countries. The Dutch premiere takes place on November 27, 1956 in the presence of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. The play has a great impact in Germany. More than two million people come to see the production. The play is such a moving experience there, that when the curtain falls there is a long drawn out silence.
Journalist Max Tak' writes about the play: 'There is nothing better than a perfect play, and seldom does one have a chance to witness this. With The Diary of Anne Frank…these American artists have created this exceptional chance. Never before have I felt, with such intensity, the extent to which art is dependent on life, as I did during this performance.'
A Hollywood film version of the play is made by director George Stevens in 1958. The American actress Shelley Winters plays the role of Mrs. Van Pels. In her memoirs she elaborates about the film. The film The Diary of Anne Frank premieres on March 18, 1959. Though it is not a box-office success, it still wins three Oscars, including one for Shelley Winters for "Best Supporting Actress". The Dutch premiere of the film takes place in April 1959. Just like they were at the play's premiere, members of the Dutch Royal Family are once again present: Queen Juliana and Princess Beatrix attend. The Wilhelmus, the Dutch National Anthem, is sung at the end of the film.
Millie Perkins plays Anne Frank
A scene from the film directed by George Stevens.
Otto visited the film set
The American actress Shelley Winters plays the role of Mrs. Van Pels. In her memoirs she elaborates about the film. She recalls meeting Otto Frank: "One day about four months into the shooting, George Stevens annouced to us that we were having lunch with Mr. Otto Frank, the real Anne's father. He had never seen a production of the play; it would have been too difficult a thing for him to do. In fact, it was rather courageous for him to come and watch some of the filming that afternoon. We all had lunch with him in our costumes, shabby, smelly wartime Dutch clothes. He looked around the table at all the actors who were portraying his friends and family. He was trembling, and had tears in his eyes."