Dr. Shirley’s brother Dr. Maurice Shirley, 82, said he was “furious” after he saw Green Book. The movie portrays his brother as someone out of touch with the Black community and disconnected from his family. “At that point [in 1962 when the events of the film supposedly take place], he had three living brothers with whom he was always in contact,” Maurice told Shadow and Act.
Maurice and his wife Patricia Shirley also stated that Donald and Tony were not close friends. “It was an employer-employee relationship,” Patricia said. “You asked what kind of relationship he had with Tony? He fired Tony! Which is consistent with the many firings he did with all of his chauffeurs over time.” Maurice confessed.
Dr. Donald Shirley was a world renowned pianist. The movie made it seemed like he was trained in Europe but Donald actually got trained by teachers from historically Black colleges. “The idea that he studied in Europe as a child—of course, because of his ability to play, that was believed. So my understanding was, that was a contrivance of the label at the time, not his,” His nephew Edwin Shirley III said. “That was part of what was put on the back of his album covers, basically to compartmentalize him and make him acceptable in areas where a Black man from a Black school wouldn’t have got any recognition at all.” he continued.