David Weiss, former story editor for David O. Selznick and longtime historical novelist, died Nov. 29 at a La Jolla hospital. The cause was thrombophlebitis and complications from a fall. He was 93.
Orphaned by age 4, he was raised in Philadelphia by an aunt who owned a Russian restaurant that often hosted famous composers.
A 1933 graduate of Temple University, Weiss later studied at the New School for Social Research in New York, where he became an assistant director during the early days of The Actors Studio. He tried acting, unsuccessfully, and had dozens of odd jobs before spending seven years as story editor for producer Selznick. While with Selznick, Weiss worked on films including “A Farewell to Arms” and “Tender Is the Night.”
His first novel, “The Guilt Maker,” was published in 1953. He went on to pen 11 more books, mostly historical novels on the lives of composers and artists. His most popular book, 1963 bestseller “Naked Came I,” was based on the life of sculptor Auguste Rodin. He also wrote two novels on Mozart.
Weiss’s novels often incorporated poems by his wife of 53 years, poet and Group Theater playwright Stymean Karlen. Last year Weiss completed “Forever and After,” a biography of Karlen, who died in 1998.