Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Born in Brooklyn, New York, on 23 April 1908, he graduated from the Pratt Institute and was hired as an inker and fill-in artist by the Fleischer Studios in 1930. At that time, the Times Square studio was considered the pre-eminent animation workshop in the US, although its status was soon to be challenged by Walt Disney.
Waldman was promoted to animator for the 1931 Screen Songs cartoon "By the Light of the Silvery Moon". His second short, "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie" (1932) featured the proto-Betty Boop, then a character with dog-like features and floppy ears. Betty was originally an anthropomorphised poodle (voiced by Mae Questel), based on singer Helen Kane, but was given human features in the cartoon "Any Rags" (1932), although her development owed as much to her animators, including Waldman, as it did to brothers Max and David Fleischer, who usually took credit for producing and directing the cartoons. Waldman's other early successes included episodes of the Color Classics series, which was launched as a rival to Disney's Silly Symphonies in 1934. He was head animator on two cartoons nominated for Academy Awards: "Educated Fish" (1937) and "Hunky and Spunky" (1939).
Waldman remained with the Fleischers when the studio was moved to Miami and worked on the modestly successful Gulliver's Travels feature film. He was one of the principal animators for the Fleischers' "Popeye the Sailor" colour series and, in 1941, was principal animator on "Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy".
After a disastrous second feature film, the Fleischers regrouped back in New York as Famous Studios, under the control of Paramount, which Waldman joined after serving three years in the US Army. Here he worked on numerous shorts featuring Baby Huey, Herman and Katnip, Little Lulu and Casper the Friendly Ghost. He also had a sideline drawing comics, including "Happy the Humbug" in 1940 and one of the first graphic novels, Eve: A Pictorial Love Story in 1943.
He left Famous in 1957 to become animation director of Hal Seeger productions where he helped revive the Out of the Inkwell series, starring Betty Boop and Koko the Clown, and worked on the Milton the Monster TV series until his retirement in 1968.
According to a New York Times obituary, "In later years he travelled and lectured, creating paintings for galleries and working on a musical feature that never came to fruition. In the 1990s he was honored with retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of the Moving Image and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art." He was rewarded with the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Award in 1986 and the Winsor McCay Award for his lifetime achievements in animation in 1997.
Waldman, who lived in Wantagh, New York, died of congestive heart failure at New Island Hospital in Bethpage, NY, on 4 February 2006, aged 97. He was survived by his wife, Rosalie, who was an animation checker at the Fleischer Studio in the early 1940s; two sons and three grandchildren also survived him.
Examples of artwork by Myron Waldman can be found for sale at the Illustration Art Gallery.