The Real Life Toy Genius Behind Big‘s Famous Piano

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Big, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, will forever be remembered for one indelible scene: Tom Hanks, Robert Loggia, and a giant floor piano. (The piano is so integral to the film that it was also the centerpiece of the short-lived Broadway musical.) To this day, Big fans can visit the giant piano at FAO Schwarz’s flagship store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue and perform their own version of the classic Hanks/Loggia “Heart and Soul” duet. In addition to being the most successful “kid magically turning into a grown-up” movie (sorry, Vice Versa), Big is also notable for placing FAO Schwarz, and it’s one-time CEO, Peter L. Harris, firmly in film history.

The inspiration for Loggia’s character, Harris is credited
for bringing FAO Schwarz to the prominence it enjoys today as a New
York City landmark — and for developing that famous floor-length
piano. Harris took over the then-troubled toy store in 1985 (while the
script for Big was being developed), and came up with the
concept of “entertainment retail,” believing that every customer should
have a fun experience beyond the purchasing of products. His
vision continues today through the giant clocks, teddy bears, and other
larger-than-life goodies stocked in the store. Harris is also said to have shared many of
the same qualities as Loggia’s MacMillan –eccentricity, daring, and a
sense for youthful fun. After all, he did listen to Hanks and
his crazy ideas, much to the dismay of John Heard’s uptight yuppie
jerk.

For a full schedule of Big on AMC, click here.

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