Donald Featherstone, famous for creating the plastic pink flamingo, a cornerstone of kitschy American lawn decor, died Monday. He was 79.
Featherstone had long been battling Lewy body dementia and died at an elder care facility in Fitchburg, Mass., his wife of 40 years, Nancy, told the Associated Press.
A classically trained painter at the Worcester Art Museum, Featherstone was working at plastics company Union Products Inc. when he conceived of the plastic pink flamingo in 1957. He modeled it after birds he saw in National Geographic.
He stayed at Union for 43 years, eventually ascending to president before retiring in 1999. Union went out of business in 2006, putting the future of the pink flamingo in question. However, the company was purchased by Cado Products Inc., which continues to manufacture the bird. Thousands are still sold each year, Bruce Zarozny, president of Cado, told the AP.
In a 1996 interview commemorating the 40th anniversary of the flamingo, Featherstone said of his creation: “People say they’re tacky, but all great art began as tacky.”