It's the latest story that touched, and betrayed, the world.

"

Herman Rosenblat

and his wife are the most gentle, loving, beautiful people," literary agent

Andrea Hurst

said yesterday, anguishing over why she, and so many others, were taken by Rosenblat's story of love born on opposite sides of a barbed-wire fence at a concentration camp.

"I question why I never questioned it. I believed it; it was an incredible, hope-filled story."

On Saturday, Berkley Books canceled Rosenblat's memoir,

Angel at the Fence

. Rosenblat acknowledged that he and his wife did not meet, as they had said for years, at a sub-camp of Buchenwald, where she allegedly sneaked him apples and bread. The book was supposed to come out in February.

Rosenblat, 79, has been married to the former

Roma Radzicky

for 50 years, since meeting her on a blind date in New York. In a statement issued Saturday through his agent, he described himself as an advocate of love and tolerance who falsified his past to better spread his message.

"I wanted to bring happiness to people," said Rosenblat, who now lives in the Miami area. "I brought hope to a lot of people. My motivation was to make good in this world."

Rosenblat's believers included not only his agent and his publisher, but

Oprah Winfrey

, film producers, journalists, family members and strangers who ignored, or didn't know about, the warnings from scholars that his story didn't make sense.

Historical records prove Rosenblat was indeed at Buchenwald and other camps.

"How sad that he felt he had to embellish a life of surviving the Holocaust and of being married for half a century," said Holocaust scholar

Michael Berenbaum

.

Moviegoers adopt 'Marley'

Hollywood had a happy holiday with a huge Christmas weekend, as movies from

Jennifer Aniston

and

Owen Wilson

,

Brad Pitt

and

Cate Blanchett

and

Adam Sandler

all opened strongly.

Even

Tom Cruise

scored solidly in an eye patch and a German World War II uniform.

Aniston and Wilson's dog tale

Marley & Me

debuted at No. 1 with $37 million in weekend ticket sales and a total of $51.7 million since opening Christmas Day, according to estimates yesterday from distributor 20th Century Fox. The film, based on former Inquirer columnist

John Grogan

's best-seller, is about a couple going through the ups and downs of marriage with their mischievous dog in tow.

Disney's Sandler comedy

Bedtime Stories

came in second for the weekend with $28.1 million and $38.6 million since Christmas.

Paramount's

Benjamin Button

, a romantic fantasy with Pitt and Blanchett, ran a close third with $27 million for the weekend. The film has grossed $39 million since premiering Christmas Day.

MGM's

Valkyrie

, starring Cruise as a German officer plotting to kill Adolf Hitler, had a No. 4 debut weekend of $21.5 million and took in $30 million since opening on Christmas.

Rounding out the holiday rush of releases was Lionsgate's action thriller

The Spirit

, which came in at No. 9 with $6.5 million over the weekend and $10.4 million since Christmas.

This column contains information

from Inquirer wire services.

Contact "SideShow" at sideshow@phillynews.com.