Tacky? Yes. Iconic? Absolutely. Sadly, the creator of the plastic pink flamingo, Donald Featherstone, passed away on June 22, 2015, at the age of 79. Ironically, his passing was one day before National Pink Flamingo Day, which was declared in 2007 by Dean Mazzaralla, Mayor of Leominster, MA, to honor the work of Featherstone. Featherstone's wife, Nancy, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that her husband died Monday at an elder care facility in Fitchburg, MA, after a long battle with Lewy body dementia.
|Don Featherstone, creator of the original plastic pink flamingo. Photograph: Amy Sancetta/AP.|
The Americana staple came about when Featherstone modeled it after a bird he saw in National Geographic while working at plastics company Union Products Inc. in 1957. The classically trained sculpter would then work his way up to President of Union, where he retired in 1999. The company closed its doors in 2006, making many wonder about the future of the pink bird, but Cado Products Inc. purchased the company and continues to manufacture the pink fowl.
The suburban lawn ornament went on to sell millions, and sales continue to thrive, selling thousands a year, according to Bruce Zarozny, President of Cado.
“An empty lawn is like an empty coffee table,” he told the Boston Globe in 2008, a year after his most famous design turned 50. “You have to put something on it.”
Featherstone is survived by his wife of 40 years, two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, the Associated Press reports.