Official Press Release
Irwin Donenfeld, former Executive Vice President and Editorial Director for DC Comics, died on November 30 at age 78 of heart failure in Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. Donenfeld> ‘> s editorial instincts and business skills helped guide DC Comics from the late 1940s until the late 1960s.
Paul Levitz, DC> ‘> s President & Publisher, says, > “> Fans of the Silver Age of comics owe Irwin a debt both for his influence on DC> ‘> s publishing program, and especially for his decision to preserve the film negatives of DC> ‘> s titles > -> making possible the beloved 80 Page Giant Annuals and 100-Page Super-Spectaculars in a time when recreating or scanning comic art was prohibitively expensive.> “>
The son of Harry Donenfeld, one of the founders of the publishing company that would become DC Comics, Irwin Donenfeld was born March 1, 1926, in the Bronx. He joined DC (then Detective Comics) in 1948, not long after the company> ‘> s merger with sister publisher All American Comics.
As Donenfeld reminisced during a panel discussion in 2001 at Comic-Con International: San Diego, > “> In 1948, I was already married and had a child. I graduated from college and went up to DC and I showed them that I was a college graduate; I had a keen intellect, and they hired me because my father was the boss.> “>
From the start, Donenfeld applied himself to two crucial sides of the industry: business and editorial. This approach began with his work with distribution, it is widely believed, when he received reports from representatives who reported the types of magazines that were selling around the country. This input guided Donenfeld to recommend that DC publish comics in those genres. In the late 1940s, with the popularity of super-heroes waning, Donenfeld led DC into more diverse genres, starting with westerns and later expanding into romance, crime, war, mystery, and science fiction.
Donenfeld served as DC> ‘> s Editorial Director from 1952 to 1957, overseeing the company> ‘> s publishing at the start of the Silver Age of Comics. From 1958 to 1967, he was Executive Vice President and Business Manager. In 1967, DC was purchased by Kinney National Services. Donenfeld soon retired to Westport, CT, where he became involved in maritime business.
Donenfeld is survived by his wife, Carole; his sister, Peachy Mondschein; his children, Amy, Ben, Harry, and Luke Donenfeld and Mimi Foss, as well as three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date to take place in Westport.