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Tom Bosley in “Paper Clips”

Tom Bosley in "Paper Clips"

We lost Tom Bosley to lung cancer today, and though he’ll certainly be best remembered as the dad on “Happy Days” and might also be thought of for his ability to endorse garbage bags, it’s becoming my tradition here to spotlight documentaries featuring the recently deceased (previously with Sally Menke and Tony Curtis). This is admittedly only partly to memorialize the departed film or TV personality by looking at something more candid, genuine or telling of the individual as him or herself. It’s also partly to recognize the particular documentary (or documentaries). I hope that’s not thought disrespectful.

This time it’s the 2004 Holocaust-related film “Paper Clips,” directed by Elliot Berlin (who apparently died last year) and Joe Fab. It’s about The Paper Clips Project, started at a small-town middle school in Tennessee to show the students what the number six million looks like. They collected paper clips from around the world, each one meant to represent a person who died in the Holocaust, often accompanied by a letter detailing who the victim was and how he or she was related to the sender. There are also a number of survivors and descendants in the film either whom visit the school or were documented by the filmmakers reading their own letters.

Tom Bosley was one of the many celebrities who participated in the project, and he appears in the film reading his own letter, in which he discusses how the atrocities affected him personally and how now the sight of paper clips will always make him think of the kids at Whitwell Middle School and their endeavors. He also can be heard afterward in a voice-over commending the school and its staff for stimulating the students in this way. I can’t find a clip of his appearance in the film, but it is easily seen either on Amazon VOD or Netflix Watch Instantly. He come on around nine minutes in. He can also be seen briefly in the trailer, which I’ve embedded below:

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