Maurice Whitman was born Maurice Edward Wisotzky on June 10, 1922 in Catskill, New York. His father, Morris Ezra Wisotzky, was born August 14, 1896 in Pinsk, Poland, of Jewish ancestry and came to America in 1914. His mother, Deborah Dora Braunstein, was born January 6, 1900 in Garichest, Roumania of Jewish ancestry and came to America in 1904. His parents married on August 9, 1919 in Catskill, NY. They had four children, Arthur J. Wisotzky (b. February 27, 1920), Maurice E. Wisotzky (b. June 10, 1922), Leo Yasha Wisotzky (b. January 3, 1926), and Adassa Wisotzky (b. August 29, 1926). The family lived at 51 West Bridge Street in Catskill, beside the Rip Van Winkle Bridge over the Hudson River. His father was a contractor of piece work in the garment manufacturing business.
The children were raised in Catskill, NY, where they attended public schools.
In 1929 the Wisotzky family left Catskill and moved one hundred miles south to the Bronx, where the father pursued his career in the garment industry. The family lived at 592 Tinton Avenue in the Bronx.
By 1932 the Great Depression had brought hard times to all aspects of American life, including the garment industry. The family left the Bronx and moved to in a lodging home at 720 Pennsylvania Avenue in Schenectady, NY.
In 1935 Maurice Whitman, age thirteen, became interested in a career as an artist, when he was in the eighth grade at McKinley Junior High School in Schenectady. His art teacher was Miss Ruth Jones. He joined the Art Club and he produced stage decorations for the Annual Christmas Pageant.
On February 20, 1937 Maurice Whitman graduated from Junior High School in Schenectady. In the spring semester of 1937 he began to attend Central Park High School in Schenectady.
On March 15, 1937 national newspapers reported "Maurice Whitman, thirteen years old, student at Central Park High School, will be an exhibiting artist in Rockefeller Center, New York City, when the art exhibition called Young America Paints is held there from March 30 to April 30. His picture has been accepted among those from students in more than a hundred leading American cities, from kindergarten to college age. The paintings accepted for this exhibition, in their exuberance of imagination and wide variety of subject and interest, show that a new day has dawned in art education in this country."
Two weeks later, on March 30, 1937 his parents were granted a divorce. The process was amicable and the wife won custody of the children and fifteen dollars weekly alimony. The divorced mother changed her name from Dora Wisotzky to Dora Whitman. Since she was awarded custody of the four children, she also changed their names from Wisotzky to "Whitman." The children continued to study at public schools in Schenectady.
The father left Schenectady and moved to 882 East 156th Street in the Bronx, where he continued to work as a contractor of piece work in the garment industry. The children occasionally lived with him in the Bronx.
In February of 1941 Maurice Whitman graduated from Central Park High School in Schenectady. After graduation he became a manager of a retail clothing store in Schenectady.
On October 21, 1942, during WWII, Maurice Whitman enlisted in the Army. He was recorded at the time to be age twenty, single, five-foot-six, and 170 pounds. He served as a private and was stationed at Fort Dix Army Camp in New jersey, where he was assigned to the graphics department to paint signs and posters. One camp poster urged GIs to finish their meals, so as not to unintentionally aid the ever-lurking Nazi Saboteur.
In the summer of 1943 Pvt. Maurice Whitman was honorably discharged from the Army because of flat feet.
According to the artist's son Jonathan Whitman, "My father was self-taught and had no formal training in art."
Maurice Whitman began his professional art career in the fall of 1943 by working for Harry Chesler.
In 1944 he worked for Lloyd Jacquet.
In 1945 he joined the artist studio of Jerry Iger.
In 1948 he began to work for Fiction House.
In 1952 Maurice Whitman married Doris Ida Elend. She was born in 1925 in Germany of Jewish ancestry. In 1935 her family was sent to a Nazi concentration camp. She and her mother survived and moved to England, where she was trained as a nurse. She came to America in 1949, and lived with a cousin in New York City, where she worked at Beth Israel Hospital.
The newlyweds moved to Ansonia, Connecticut, where they had four children, David (b.1957), Jonathan (b.1959), Daniel (b.1961), and Jane (b.1963). The artist worked at home in his studio in a spare room, while his wife worked at Griffin Hospital in Seymour, CT.
In 1954 Maurice Whitman began to draw for Charlton Comics. He also painted illustrations for Real West Magazine from Charlton Publications of Derby, CT.
On August 20, 1955 during a severe flood of the Naugatuck River, in which 92 people were killed in Derby, CT, Maurice Whitman was rescued by helicopter from the roof of Charlton Press.
In the 1960s Maurice Whitman worked for Warren Publications.
On September 24, 1963 Maurice Whitman won third Place in the Portrait Contest at the Stratford, Connecticut Chamber of Commerce Art Show. The Contest Judge was the artist Raymond Quigley.
In the 1970s Maurice Whitman worked for DC Comics. He also worked for the large international advertising agency, Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, (BBDO, Inc.), which has its headquarters in New York City.
In May 22, 1972 the artist's mother, Dora Braunstein Wisotzky died at the age of seventy-two in NYC.
In 1975 Maurice Whitman and his wife divorced.
In 1976 Maurice Whitman moved to City Island in the Bronx, where he opened an art gallery, where he sold landscapes and portrait sketches.
In 1979 Maurice Whitman illustrated "The Man of Bronze" a digest-sized graphic novel for the Skylark division of Bantam Books. The painted cover of the book was by James Bama (b.1926).
On March 10, 1979 the artist's father, Morris Wisotzky died at the age of eighty-three while on vacation in Florida.
In 1981 Maurice Whitman moved to 41 Chamberlain Street in Seymour, CT.
According to the artist's son, Jonathan Whitman, "My father was one of the most diverse and versatile artists I have ever seen. Since I was a little kid I think I was his greatest fan. He also had a great love of water and boats. He moved to City Island in the Bronx, NY, and opened an art gallery where he created many oil paintings and sketch portraits. I am what I am, and where I am today is a result of the gift of art my dad passed down to me and I am forever grateful to my father and best friend. Thank you Dad for always being there, and for teaching me not to conform but rather to think outside of the box when need be."
Maurice Edward Whitman developed diabetes and died of heart failure at the age of sixty in Seymour, Connecticut, on May 10, 1983.
© David Saunders 2016