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How Jobs-as-FDR film was made... and Chaplin 'cameo' wasn't

Trio involved in production of Apple's long-lost '1944' tell story behind the film

By Paul McNamara on Tue, 05/08/12 - 12:46pm.


Rather than use a voice impressionist, Steve Jobs insisted on delivering his FDR speech himself in a long-lost Apple film called "1944," which was posted here last week and has since gone viral to generally cheery reviews ... with the notable exception being jeers for Jobs' attempt to sound like FDR.

In addition, were it not for copyright obstacles, that scene would have included a photo "cameo" by Charlie Chaplin playing Adolph Hitler. (Pity.) The hammer-throwing athlete/actress from "1944" is not the same woman who starred in "1984," the famous first Macintosh TV ad on which "1944" was based. And, for those of you who have written to insist that Jobs appears in multiple roles - the apple-eating soldier, foremost - I am sorry, but you are mistaken.

These back-story recollections come via my e-mail exchanges with a trio of individuals involved in the film's making: Michael Markman, a freelance producer at the time who went on to become Apple's director of worldwide advertising; Glenn Lambert, who wrote the script; and Christopher Korody, whose now-defunct Los Angeles company, Image Stream, put it all together.

(25 other geeky happenings from 1984)

"Several years later, there was an early book on Jobs, Apple, and the Mac, in which Steve claimed that the whole video had been his idea," says Lambert. "I've always taken that as a compliment to those of us who actually made it."

A copy of "1944" was given to me by former Apple employee Craig Elliott, now co-founder and CEO of cloud-computing startup Pertino Networks. In case you haven't seen it yet, here is the scene where Jobs plays FDR:

And here's an edited version of the incredibly detailed back story Markman sent me yesterday, followed by Korody and a few video clips filling in more blanks :