David Weidman, the UPA animation artist whose mid-century style silkscreened prints found a new appreciation in recent years, died Wednesday. He was 93 and had lived in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles in a house he built himself since the 1950s.
After starting his career with John Hubley, Weidman worked on the backgrounds and other paintings for UPA cartoons such as “The Boing Boing Show,” “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” and “The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo” that helped create the distinctive modern style for which the studio was known. He also worked on Jay Ward’s “Fractured Fairy Tales,” “Crusader Rabbit” and “Popeye” TV shorts.
He had already begun working as a silkscreen artist with his own gallery on La Cienega Blvd. in the mid-60s when he returned to animation, working for Hanna Barbera on “Wacky Races” and “Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines” and for UPA on the last Mr. Magoo TV special “Uncle Sam Magoo.”
Weidman continued creating ceramics, posters and prints for several decades until his art came to the attention of the “Mad Men” set decorators, who found his colorful stylized forms to be the perfect fit for Peggy Olson’s office and other rooms at the ad agency.
“The style is very distinctive and indicative of that era and the popularity of Danish modern,” set decorator Claudette Didul told the L.A. Times, “They remind me of pictures I saw growing up and seemed in keeping with Peggy’s sensibilities and reflect her younger and somewhat more cheerful outlook.”
As he was rediscovered, a book documenting his career was published, Urban Outfitters licensed pillows decorated with his artwork, and several art exhibits helped introduce his work to a new generation.
Weidman attended Jepson Art Institute in Los Angeles, where he met his wife Dorothy, with whom he had three children.