Maltin was born in New York City, the son of Jacqueline (née Gould), a singer, and Aaron Isaac Maltin, a lawyer and immigration judge. He is married to Alice Tlusty, a researcher and producer. He has one daughter, born in 1986. Maltin is Jewish. He grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, and graduated from Teaneck High School. He is a good friend of film critic Roger Ebert.
Maltin began his writing career at age fifteen, writing for Classic Images and editing and publishing his own fanzine, Film Fan Monthly, dedicated to films from the golden age of Hollywood. After receiving a journalism degree at New York University, Maltin went on to publish articles in a variety of film journals, national news-papers, and magazines, including Variety and TV Guide.
As an author, Maltin is best known for Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, (some editions titled as his ...Movie and Video Guide), a compendium of synopses and reviews that first appeared in September 1969 and has been annually updated since October 1987. (It was published under the title TV Movies until the 1990s, and in 2005 spawned a spin-off, Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide, limited to films released in 1960 and earlier to allow the regular book to cover a larger number of more recent titles.) He has also written several other works, including Behind the Camera, a study of the art of cinematography, The Whole Film Sourcebook, Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia, Our Gang: The Life and Times of the Little Rascals, and Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons.
Since May 29, 1982, Maltin has been the movie reviewer on the syndicated television series Entertainment Tonight. He also appears on the Starz cable network, and hosted his own syndicated radio program, Leonard Maltin on Video, as well as the syndicated TV show Hot Ticket with Boston film critic Joyce Kulhawik (originally E! personality and game show host Todd Newton). He currently hosts a television show entitled Secret's Out on ReelzChannel movie network. He also spearheaded the creation of the Walt Disney Treasures collectible DVD line in 2001, and continues to provide creative input and host the various sets.
In the mid-1990s, he became the president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and is on the Advisory Board of the Hollywood Entertainment Museum. For nearly a decade, Maltin was also on the faculty of the New School for Social Research in New York City. He currently teaches in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.
In 1998, Maltin settled a libel suit brought by former child star Billy Gray, of Father Knows Best fame, whom Maltin identified as a drug addict and dealer in his review of the film Dusty and Sweets McGee for the movie guide book. The statement appeared in print for nearly twenty-five years before Maltin publicly apologized for the error.
Popular culture appearancesEdit
Maltin was portrayed in an episode of the animated comedy South Park called "Mecha-Streisand" where Maltin, along with actor Sidney Poitier and singer Robert Smith, fight and defeat Barbra Streisand, who has assumed the form of Mecha-Streisand, a giant, Godzilla-like robot version of herself. His own gigantic form was reminiscent of Ultraman with his initials on his chest.
He also appeared as himself in Gremlins 2: The New Batch. In a short segment, he gives a bad review of the first film (Gremlins) as several of the creatures creep up on him and strangle him to death (in his guide, Maltin's three-star review of the movie noted that it contained "gratuitous cameo appearances"). He also made an appearance on the cartoon show Freakazoid! where he voiced himself, only to be abducted by monsters. And while he's been a "talking head" in countless documentaries, he also appeared as himself in a faux documentary, Peter Jackson's "Forgotten Silver."
Maltin had starred on an episode of Entertainment Tonight, where he was presenting a time machine akin to one in the film The Time Machine. He sits in the machine and then vanishes, as does the character in the film.
Maltin is one of the few people to appear as a "guest star" on Mystery Science Theater 3000; during a Season Nine episode, he was forced by Pearl Forrester to retract his endorsement of the film Gorgo. In an earlier episode featuring The Undead, Mike Nelson impersonates Maltin and apologizes to viewers for his good review, saying he must have been on drugs. Upon this admission, he was awarded the goatee of the millennium award. Additionally, his rating of two-and-a-half stars to the film Laserblast is ridiculed in the episode featuring that film.
In The Simpsons episode "A Star Is Burns", Marge says "Did you know there are over 600 critics on TV and Leonard Maltin is the best looking of them all?". Lisa replies "Ewwww!" In the 1995 video release of the original Star Wars trilogy, there was an interview with George Lucas conducted by Maltin included before the start of the movies.
Maltin is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world's shortest movie review; his two-star review of the 1948 musical Isn't It Romantic? consists of the word "No". In 1985 he delivered a three-word movie review on Entertainment Tonight for that year's horror film spoof, Transylvania 6-5000. The review begins with a silent Maltin swaying to a recording of the Glenn Miller Orchestra playing "Pennsylvania 6-5000"; in the song the instrumental melody is interrupted by the sound of a telephone ringing after which the band chants the title of the song. In his review, Maltin timed it so that his review began with the phone ringing: "Transylvania 6-5000 ... stinks!" In 2004 he delivered a five-word review for Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. His two star review consisted of the statement "It is what it is."
Comedian Doug Benson's podcast "Doug Loves Movies" features a segment called The Leonard Maltin game, in which the guest must guess the name of a movie based on the cast list in reverse order. A few intentionally vague clues from the capsule review of the movie in Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide are also provided. Leonard Maltin appeared on the podcast in February 2010 and played the game himself. He appeared on the show again in August 2010. In November 2010 Benson and Maltin played the game on the Kevin Pollak Chat Show.