EmptyDavid Hilberman, whose union activities at Walt Disney Studios and brief membership in the Communist Party led to his blacklisting and shadowed a long career that included co-founding the innovative United Productions of America studio, died July 5 of natural causes at Stanford University Medical Center in Northern California. He was 95.
Hilberman came to Los Angeles to work at Disney in 1936 as one of 40 young artists who had been recruited in a national talent search. Within 18 months, he advanced from trainee to layout artist. He worked on numerous animated shorts, including "Farmyard Symphony" (1938) and "Ugly Duckling" (1939) as well as the features "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) and "Bambi" (1942).
Hilberman became one of the leaders of a union movement that climaxed in the bitterly fought animators' strike of 1941.
After the strike, Hilberman joined with fellow ex-Disney artists to found Industrial Film and Poster Service, a small studio that developed into the animation pioneer United Productions of America, which created a new style of animation with such characters as Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing-Boing.
Shirley Slesinger Lasswell, who licensed rights to the Winnie the Pooh characters to Walt Disney in 1961 and later brought suit against the company over disputed royalties, died July 19 of respiratory failure at her daughter's Beverly Hills home. She was 84.
A former Broadway showgirl, Lasswell was married to Stephen Slesinger, who in 1930 had obtained the U.S. and Canadian licensing and merchandising rights to Pooh, Christopher Robin and other characters created by author A.A. Milne.
When Slesinger died in 1953, she took over developing the characters and creating products based on the Pooh stories and characters.
Jesus de Polanco, Spain's most powerful media mogul for more than three decades, whose newspaper was a key factor in Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy, died July 21 of pneumonia. He was 77.
A self-made man, de Polanco started selling books door-to-door at 17, a business he transformed into the bedrock of Spanish culture by creating the leading textbook publisher and later launching the independent newspaper El Pais.
Ross Taylor, an Emmy-winning sound editor and foley artist, died June 17 in Los Angeles. He was 83.
His company, Edit International Ltd., provided sound effects for numerous major feature films and television productions. In 1973, he won an Emmy for his work on "The Red Pony" and an MPSE Award for "The Exorcist."
A radio announcer and play-by-play sports broadcaster before he moved to Los Angeles in the early 1950s, he worked in the sound departments of Hal Roach Studios and Desilu Studios. With Kitty Malone, his foley partner and significant other for 35 years, he created the foley for such films as "The Electric Horseman," "Chinatown," "9 to 5" and "The China Syndrome."
Margaret Gardner, a leading figure in public relations during Hollywood's Golden Age, died July 19 of cancer at her home in Manhattan. She was 88.
A native of Marinette, Wis., Gardner followed her brother, producer Arthur Gardner, to Hollywood after high school. A graduate of UCLA, she started her professional career as a magazine writer and went into public relations, working with such stars as Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Kirk Douglas, Shirley MacLaine, Melina Mercouri and Elizabeth Taylor.
She became vp international affairs at Rogers & Cowan and spent 30 years living in Paris and London as head of the firm's international operations.