Irwin Julius Weill was born March 1, 1908 in Brooklyn, NYC. His father, Julius Weill, was born in 1867 in France and came to the United States in 1900 and settled in Brooklyn. His mother, Fanny Weill, was born in 1882 in Germany and came to the U.S. in 1902. His parents married in NYC on February 28, 1904. They had four children, Albert (b. 1905), Leopold (b.1906), Irwin (1908), and Florence (b. 1911). The family lived at 78 Bleecker Street in Brooklyn. His father worked as a laborer in the Engineering Department of the Brooklyn Navy Yards.
In 1914 the family moved to 195 Wyckoff Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens.
The children attended public school in Queens.
On August 27, 1916, as the father carried an armload of dinners for the Supervisors of the Machine Shop at the Brooklyn Navy Yards, he was struck down and killed by a passing automobile.
After legal settlement the widow and four children received a pension from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
In 1920 the family moved to 360 Palmette Street in Brooklyn.
In June of 1922 after completing the eighth grade, he began to work as a clerk at the same radio communications company where his older brother Leopold also worked as a bookkeeper.
In 1924 the family moved to 1884 Cornelia Street in Ridgewood, Queens.
It is not known where he studied art.
On December 19, 1937 he married Bertha Silverstein. She was born on November 1, 1918 in New Jersey. She was a recent graduate of Norfolk High School in Virginia. They newly-married couple moved to 7819 81st Street in Jamaica, Queens, NY. Their daughter was born one year later.
He rented an office in Manhattan as his art studio at 60 West 68th Street.
In 1937 he began to also work as a layout man for Fawcett Publications.
In 1940 a young artist, Marc Swayze, who had recently arrived in NYC from his home in Kentucky and found a job at Fawcett Publications. He also found an affordable room to rent as a lodger from Irwin Weill.
His illustration appeared in pulp magazines, such as Blue Book, Clues Detective Stories, Weird Tales and Short Stories. He signed some of his work with a curious motif designed from his initials "I.W."
He wrote and illustrated a feature entitled "Superstitions and Taboos" for Weird Tales. The series ran from 1940 to 1947 and presented unusual mystical facts in the style of the popular newspaper strip, "Ripley's Believe It Or Not."
He followed this with another version, entitled "Curioddities," which was tailored for readers of the pulp magazine, Short Stories. This second series ran from 1941 to 1949 and presented exotic natural phenomena from around the globe, which was again presented in the style of "Ripley's Believe It Or Not."
During WWII he was thirty-four and supported a wife and an infant child, so he did not serve in the military. Nevertheless he volunteered to work for the U.S.O. and was assigned to The Stage Door Canteen on 44th Street in Times Square, where he entertained servicemen by drawing their portraits.
He was a dedicated member of the Christian Science Church. He wrote an article entitled "Enlist and Occupy" for the Christian Science Sentinel on August 24, 1946. One year later his article "Some Day" was published in the Christian Science Journal. Several artists were affiliated with this church, including Harvey Dunn, Remington Schuyler, Margaret Brundage, Madge Geyer, and George Wert.
In 1946 he became interested in ballet when his daughter took lessons from Alexandra Warenik at Gateway College on Long Island. He was apparently inspired by the work of Edgar Degas (1834-1917) as he visited the ballet class rehearsals, where he sketched, painted, and made small clay statues, some of which were cast in bronze. He also photographed the dancers and eventually produced movies on modern dancers. His films of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham were shown at prestigious theaters and received notice in The New York Times.
In 1948 he formed the company, Films of the Arts & Sciences, which was located at 220 Clinton Street in Manhattan's Lower East Side.
In 1948 the family moved to 65-84 Booth Street in Forest Hills, Queens, NY.
Irwin J. Weill died at the age of forty-eight on March 1, 1956.
© David Saunders 2013