P. D. Eastman

Philip Dey Eastman (1909 – 1986) was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, graduating from Amherst College in 1933. He studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City, and in 1936 moved to Los Angeles to work at the Walt Disney Studios. He worked in production design and story, and as an assistant animator. While at Disney he met Mary Louise Whitham, who was working in the P. D. Eastman photocolor model department. They were married in 1941. By 1942 Philip was working at Leon Schlesinger Productions (Warner Brothers Cartoons).

In 1943, Philip was inducted into the Army and assigned to the Signal Corps Film unit. He did picture planning for animated sequences in orientation and training films, and was a writer and storyboard artist on the “Private Snafu” series for the Army-Navy Screen Magazine. Ted Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) was the head of his unit.

Philip was discharged from the Army in 1945 and began working at United Productions of America (UPA), where he was a writer and storyboard artist. While there he helped develop the character Mr. Magoo. He was co-writer, with Bill Scott, of the screenplay for “Gerald McBoing-Boing,” which was based on a children’s phonograph record written by Dr. Seuss. It won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Subject in 1951. He also wrote and storyboarded various educational films while at UPA.

He started freelancing in 1952, mostly on comic books for Whitman Publishing, and in 1954 he and his family moved from Los Angeles to Westport, Connecticut, a New York City suburb. He returned to his primary line of work as a writer and storyboard artist, now mostly on TV commercials.

At about this time, Ted Geisel approached him to write for his new BEGINNER BOOKS series at Random House. By 1958 Random House had published Phil – now P. D. – Eastman’s first children’s book, “Sam and the Firefly.”