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The Diary of Anne Frank, which debuted on Broadway in 1955 and then later toured the country, was one of the most influential plays of the 20th century, and a life-changing experience for many of those who saw it. It introduced millions of Americans to the Holocaust and its victims. But what did reenacting Anne’s story mean to the people who created and acted in the play or the 1959 film? How did dramatizing her life affect their lives and careers? Who were they?

When I read the diary, I said, ‘Oh my goodness, I know who she is.’ Because it was me.
– Millie Perkins, who starred as Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)

Using archival material and interviews with surviving cast and crew members, Forward executive editor Adam Langer presents a story that’s never been told: the backstory of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play and Oscar-winning film, and how this iconic work shapes those involved in performing it — including high school students putting the show on today.


You’ll hear from Millie Perkins, who played Anne in the movie, and Eva Rubinstein, who originated the role of Margot Frank on Broadway, then left the theater to become a world-famous photographer. You’ll eavesdrop on the reunion of Pauline Hahn and Steve Press, who performed more than 100 shows together as Anne Frank and Peter Van Daan, but haven’t seen each other in 60 years. 

In seven episodes, Playing Anne Frank weaves together stories of art, culture, history and deep humanity. 

Produced by Cole Locascio and featuring original music by Emmy Award-winning composer Sila Shaman, performed by Shaman and Grammy-nominated musician Anat Cohen.


How the premiere of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ was different from any other Broadway opening

The ‘Anne Frank’ road trip that transformed America

How Hollywood found its Anne Frank — and why it wasn’t Audrey Hepburn

‘She felt so real to me’: Four young actors on how playing Anne Frank changed their lives


Adam Langer

Adam Langer conceived, reported, wrote, directed and hosts the podcast. He is the executive editor of the Forward and the author of a memoir and five novels, including Cyclorama, published in 2022, which traces the lives of the actors in a 1980s high school production of The Diary of Anne Frank in suburban Chicago.


Since its groundbreaking publication in 1947, Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl has sold more than 30 million copies and been translated into nearly 70 languages. Its play adaptation, The Diary of Anne Frank, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, premiered on Broadway in 1955 and lasted for 717 performances, winning the Pulitzer Prize for drama and a Tony Award for best play. Its revival in 1997 starred Natalie Portman. Since its premiere, The Diary of Anne Frank has been among the Top 10 most-performed shows in high schools, colleges, and regional theaters. The film adaptation, starring Millie Perkins, premiered in 1959 and was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture.


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