Walter Godfrey DeMaris was born September 24, 1877 in Cedarville, New Jersey. His father, Charles DeMaris, was born 1836 in New Jersey. His mother, Lucy Henderson, was born 1838 in New Jersey. His parents married in 1858. They had six children, of which only four survived infancy. He was their youngest child. His older siblings, Nettie, Ida and Charles, were born in 1860, 1867, and 1870. They lived at 157 South Giles Street in Bridgeton, New Jersey. His father was a captain of a sloop and a barge, as well as the proprietor of a local oyster bar and saloon on Water Street. Bridgeton is on a tidal river that flows into Delaware Bay at the southern tip of New Jersey.
On September 22, 1897 he married Mabel Rebecca Greene, who was born 1878 in Pennsylvania. On April 23, 1899 their daughter Martha was born. On February 26, 1898 their son Merril was born. [Merril DeMaris grew up to become a commercial artist in advertising and was a writer for Walt Disney's Snow White and Silly Symphonies.]
In 1900 he studied at the Art Students League of New York.
By 1903 his pen-and-ink story illustrations appeared in a nationwide newspaper syndicate that included San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington, DC.
In 1906 he began to work in magazines and newspapers as a freelance illustrator. He painted covers and drew pen and ink story illustrations that were published in Pearson's, Harper's, Modern Priscilla, Appleton's, The Progressive Grocer's, American Banker's Association Journal, The Woman's Magazine, and The Saturday Evening Post.
He developed a reputation as a cartoonist when his gag panels appeared in Puck, Life, and Judge Magazine.
He painted covers for pulp magazines throughout his career, but his work appeared more frequently in pulps during the Great Depression, when slick magazines faced hard times from lost advertisers. Several other artists, such as Charles LaSalle, Delos Palmer, and Gayle Porter Hoskins followed this same unconventional path to pulp magazines after having first established reputaions in slick magazines during the roaring twenties. Pulp magazine cover paintings by Walter DeMaris appeared on The All-Story, Adventure, Detective Fiction Weekly, Munsey's, The People's, Romance, Short Stories, and West.
In 1923 he moved to 34 Pierce Street in New Rochelle, NY, which was a popular artist community, just forty minutes north of Grand Central Station by commuter train. His neighbors included Norman Rockwell, Frederick Remington, Joseph and Frank Leyendecker.
On April 24, 1935 The New York Times published his thought provoking Letter To The Editor, which concerned the unconscious influence of seen-but-forgotten paintings by other artists.
Walter DeMaris died in New Rochelle at age of seventy on January 30, 1947.
© David Saunders 2012