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David Weiss, 93; Wrote Historical Novels Based on Lives of Artists

December 12, 2002|From Staff and Wire Reports

David Weiss, 93, a historical novelist who embellished on the lives of such artists as Rodin, Mozart and Rembrandt, died Nov. 29 at a La Jolla hospital. The cause was thrombophlebitis and complications from a fall.

Weiss wrote 12 books, including "Naked Came I," a 1963 best-selling novel based on the life of sculptor Auguste Rodin.

The author published his first novel rather late in life: He was over 40 when "The Guilt Maker" came out in 1953. His debut was recognized with the Frieder Literary Award for best novel on a Jewish theme published in America.

A 1933 graduate of Temple University who later studied at the New School for Social Research in New York, he worked at more than 50 jobs -- including stevedore, actor, welfare worker, store clerk and swimming instructor -- before turning to writing.

In one of his longest-held jobs, he was a story editor for producer David O. Selznick for seven years. Weiss worked on the films "A Farewell to Arms" and "Tender Is the Night."

Orphaned by age 4, he was raised in Philadelphia by an aunt who owned a Russian restaurant frequented by famous composers who visited the Academy of Music, a historic opera house and concert hall, across the street.

Mozart would become one of his favorite subjects. He wrote two books on the composer: "The Assassination of Mozart" and "Sacred and Profane."

Other figures who inspired his fiction included dancer Isadora Duncan, architect Christopher Wren and painter Titian.

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