July 9, 2007
Just received a message from ASIFA-SF's Karl Cohen:
I just got an e-mail about the passing of Dave Hilberman from one of his sons. I've written him back asking if there will be an obit written by them or if they want help in this matter. Meanwhile if any of you wish to share memories of Dave with ASIFA-SF members, I'm happy to gather your comments and publish them in some form and/or to pass them on to his two sons that I'm in e-mail contact with. [Note: Karl's address is karlcohen at earthlink dot net.]

For those of you who are not familiar with Dave, he was a Disney animator in the late 30s. He was active with the strike and was hated by Walt after it ended. Walt considered him a ringleader and denounced him in public at a House investigation of unAmerican activities in 1947.

Thanks to loosing his job at Disney, Dave along with 2 other friends formed a company that made job training filmstrips during the war and several animated films including Hell Bent for Election to support Roosevelt in 1944 and Brotherhood of Man in 1946. By the time Brotherhood was complete Dave and Zack Schwartz had sold their interest in the company to the 3rd partner, Steve Bousustow. Steve went on to turn the company, now known as UPA, into a major animation studio after he obtained a distribution contract from Columbia in the late 1940s.

Meanwhile Dave and Zack were off to NYC where they became pioneers in TV advertising. Zack soon left Dave. Dave with Bill Pomerance as his partner formed Tempo and became a major player in producing animated TV commercials until right wing anti-communists denounced the two owners of the company. Tempo closed and Dave moved to England (and briefly Italy) for about a year.

I don't know much about his career after he returned to the US, but he did get work doing layouts and storyboards from Hanna-Barbera which he wasn't proud of (I recall his saying he hated doing rank TV shows, but I need to check my notes and letters from him for an exact quote) and he became SF State's first animation teacher in the late 1960s. He lived in Palo Alto in recent years and was interviewed a few times for books and documentaries that covered the Disney strike and blacklist. John Canemaker was one of the first scholars to write about him and he is a pivitol person in my writings about the early TV animation industry and in my chapeter of Forbidden Animation about the Disney Strike and the blacklisting of animators. Tom Sito interviewed him for Drawing the Line and Marc Elliot misquoted him in Disney, Hollywood's Dark Prince (I was told he was quite disturbed by Elliot and a British TV documentary twisting his statements around and putting an incorrect spin on his statements) In the 1980s he presented an ASIFA-SF event on his career at SF State. His wife Libby died recently (last.year or 2005). I believe he was in his early '90s when he died.
Note that the 1911 birthdate was the best I could figure on short notice; Hilberman may have been born in 1912.



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