Tim Jackson’s Film: Joan Walsh Anglund’s Life

In 1958, Joan Walsh Anglund and her husband Bob moved to a 1750s home on Kings Highway South. The young mother began writing, and drawing small books.

Without her knowledge, Bob submitted one of her works to Harcourt Brace. “A Friend is Someone Who Likes You” soon became enormously popular.

For the rest of her life, Anglund wrote at home. Her children’s books and poetry sold over 45 million copies worldwide. Meanwhile, she raised 2 kids: Joy and Todd.

Tim Jackson dated Joy while both were at Staples High School. Her parents became big influences on his life. Bob was “the man of a thousand great stories and impressions.” Joan was “the steady voice of inspiration and reason.”

Their home was a place where everyone talked, laughed and tried to figure out life.

Joan Walsh Anglund and her husband Bob. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

In college in 1969, Tim introduced the Anglunds to his new girlfriend, Suzanne. Sixteen years later, they were still together. Joan asked if they were going to have kids.

When Tim said “probably, eventually,” Joan replied, “Well, it only takes one day to have a baby.”

Ten months later the Jacksons’ first son, Max, was born. He turned 33 this month.

Right now, Max is composing music for a film Tim is making. “Joan Walsh Anglund: Life in Story and Poem” is a tribute to thee 92-year-old best-selling author/illustrator.

It’s narrated through a series of first-person oral histories, accompanied by her art and unpublished poetry.

It also describes her own story of tragedy and triumph — one that has never before been told.

Joan Walsh Anglund and Tim Jackson. (Photo/Emily Anglund)

Jackson has had quite a life himself. He sat behind the Nixon daughters when the Beatles appeared on “Ed Sullivan” in 1964 — an event that launched his musical career.

He got kicked out of the Staples orchestra for “not being serious.” His band, The Loved Ones, opened for the Rascals at Staples (and provided the sound system the Yardbirds used there).

Jackson majored in drama at Ithaca College (and eventually left, drawn away by Rob Carlson’s Benefit Street band). He went on to play drums in several bands (and open for Bruce Springsteen).

He toured with Tom Rush, LaVern Baker and others, and recorded often. His ’60s band — The Band That Time Forgot — has performed for over 30 years.

Jackson acted (he’s Joe Kopechne in “Chappaquiddick,” due for release next month), earned a master’s in education, and taught for 20 years (mostly film history and production).

Whil teaching, he made 4 documentary films. “When Things Go Wrong” — about Robin Lane — won Best Documentary at the New Jersey International Film Festival. (He was in her group The Chartbusters, the 11th band to be broadcast on MTV.)

The Joan Walsh Anglund film focuses on a woman who, like Lane, is strong, capable, and enriches lives through the arts.

A Joan Walsh Anglund drawing. (Photo courtesy of JWA Archives)

Jackson’s documentary uses storytelling, illustration, animation, poems, music and rare home movies to convey her eccentric upbringing, 3 childhood tragedies, 6o-year romance with Bob, and unexpected success.

“Our world is in turmoil,” Jackson says. “We need stories of personal triumph and celebration.”

He hopes to appeal to Anglund’s worldwide fan base (which included, in its heyday, Eleanor Roosevelt and Queen Elizabeth).

“This oral history honors the wisdom of age,” he notes. “It will encourage people to tell their own stories.”

It could also spur the publication of many short poems she wrote — only a fraction of which he includes.

Next year, Houghton Mifflin releases a special 60th anniversary edition of her first book. It will coincide with the completion of Jackson’s film.

He’s got a unique Westport perspective on Joan Walsh Anglund’s life. And now he’s ready to share it with the world.

(Tim Jackson is raising funds for his editor, composer, animator, Photoshop artist and a producer’s honorarium. He also needs to pay for stock footage and post-production, including color correction and sound editing. All contributors receive screen credit. To help, and for more information, click here.)


9 responses to “Tim Jackson’s Film: Joan Walsh Anglund’s Life

  1. Debbie Wilson Hoult

    Her books are a special part of me and my childhood in Westport. I never knew that she lived/lives there. Wow and sigh.

  2. Oh wow!. Joan Walsh Anglund is a huge part of the fabric of my childhood in Westport. I had many of her books and dolls, and I treasure my still vivid memories of going to bright pink The Remarkable Bookshop in the rainy fall weather to see her. We all stood in long lines to meet her and to have her autograph copies of her latest books for our Christmas gifts. Joan’s benevolent and uplifting ideas and illustrations in her books helped shaped my character and urged me be a better and kinder person, and I’m sure, that is true for millions of children of our generation. I’m looking forward to learning more about her life. I’m sure she has a message that we need to hear today as much as as we needed to hear it and see it back in the 60’s. Her illustrations of children, animals and nature were as moving as her words.

  3. What a lovely merging of two talents! Joan Walsh Anglund’s books were part of the fabric of my Westport childhood, too. And Tim–well, I distinctly remember Tim as an oh-so-cute teenager jamming with my brother in our Timber Lane basement.

  4. David Squires

    Great Story & another Hidden Gem in The 06880! Thanks for sharing Dan.

  5. I remember her and Hardy Gramatky reading and signing books at
    Saugatuck Elementary. Always a great morning.

  6. I have an illustrated note Joan sent to me thanking me for being Todd’s art teacher at Staples. I cherish it.

  7. This is a beautiful story .. I pass Joan’s former yellow house on my way to work every day and often wonder about her and Joy… I do remember Tim , a classmate of mine at Staples, as well a very good drummer back in the day… Kudos to you Tim.. and Thanks for sharing Dan….

  8. Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

    How could I have missed knowing that Joan Walsh Anglund lived and wrote in Westport? The answer lies in the fact that her first book was published my senior year at Staples. I have a copy of “Love Is a Special Way of Feeling” given to me in 1961 by my college “little sister. The relationship I was in that prompted the gift is now water under the dam but the book remains one of my treasures. Thank you Dan for sharing another piece of Westport with all of us. Thank you Max and Tim for your efforts to tell us the background sotry of Joan Walsh Anglund.

  9. Dorothy Kovaly

    My daughter, Elizabeth, was in the first grade when she got a JWA paper weight for her birthday. That was the beginning. Thereafter, for every birthday, Christmas, and occasion that required a gift (the last one was at her Baby Shower) she got her JWA collectable-all the books, cards, dolls, plates, ornaments, jewelry, etc. that I could find! She passed away at 34-17 years ago-and I have such wonderful memories of the enjoyment we both had from her love of JWA. Lots of it is on display on my Granddaughter’s shelves. Her daughter is now 20 and has heard all about her mother’s collection. Looking forward to the film!