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Walter Schwartz, Illustrator, Dead at 89

Plainview resident and renowned Captain Midnight comic book illustrator, ad director, lost his wife just weeks ago.

Walter W. Schwartz, of Plainview, an artist, comic book illustrator during the Golden Age of comics and advertising director, died Thursday of pneumonia at North Shore University Hospital Plainview. He was 89.

Mr. Schwartz, who had suffered from health problems for the past two years, including a stroke and a heart attack, buried his wife of 68 years, Harriet, just three weeks ago.

"He died of a broken heart," said his daughter-in-law Riva Schwartz of Dix Hills, who described him as "charismatic, dashing and debonair."

was a long-time Plainview elementary school teacher and ardent proponent of women's rights.

Mr. Schwartz, who was born to Philip and Dora Schwartz on Nov. 30, 1921, grew up in Brooklyn and later attended New York University, where he was on the football team. He graduated in 1941.

During the 1940’s, he was among the illustrators of the Captain Midnight comic books, his son, Alan, of Dix Hills, said. Captain Midnight comics were launched by Dell Comics in 1941 and then published from 1942 until 1948 by Fawcett Publications.

"Fawcett's Captain Midnight debuted in his own red costume, complete with aviator's helmet, goggles, and winged-clock insignia on his chest. Though initially quite baggy, the suit became increasingly tight-fitting over the following months, so that he was soon every inch the superhero," according to the web site Suoerheromultiverse.com

After Captain Midnight, Mr. Schwartz turned to advertising art. During the 1950’s through the 1970’s he was associated with the Michelle Cather advertising agency in New York City, illustrating ads that would appear in such publications as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. He retired in the 1970’s, but a decade later returned to work as the advertising director of Mergenthaler Linotype Co. of Melville, which manufactured typesetting equipment.

He met his wife, the former Harriet Schenk, two years his junior, at a Sweet Sixteen party that both attended and then married in 1943. They lived in Plainview for 45 years, where many of his art works decorated the walls of their home. Mr. Schwartz was an avid golfer and skier when he was young.

He also was "not a conventional parent." His son recalled that his father once drove a group of his then-teenage friends to Levittown in a 1964 Dodge Dart, a plain car with baby blue seats. While stopped for a red light at a railroad crossing on South Oyster Bay Road in Bethpage, a young man driving a 1957 Chevy stopped alongside and revved his car’s engine as if to challenge Mr. Schwartz to a drag race.

When the light changed, Mr. Schwartz bolted over the tracks. "He blew this guy away," and told his friends not to worry about damage to the car because it had "torsion bar suspension," Alan Schwartz recalled.

Funeral services were held today, Friday, July 1, at Gutterman's in Woodbury. 

Atomic Kommie Comics July 05, 2011 at 04:45 PM
I've been a big fan since my uncle (who was a radio engineer for the NBC Blue network in the 1940s) left me a huge assortment of transcription discs, including Captain Midnight, when he passed away. I eventually did a tribute page to the character at http://www.squidoo.com/classic-captain-midnight to which I'll be adding a link to this page tonite...

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