Donald Featherstone, who made his way into American kitsch history by creating the pink plastic lawn flamingo, has died. He was 79.
In 1957, Featherstone was fresh out of art school and a new employee at Union Products in Leonminster, Massachusetts, when he designed the flamingo. "An empty lawn is like an empty coffee table," he told The Boston Globe. "You have to put something on it." Featherstone created more than 650 lawn ornaments, including swans and an ostrich, but none took off the way his flamingo did. "We sold people tropical elegance in a box for less than $10," he told The Chicago Tribune on the flamingo's 50th anniversary. "Before that, only the wealthy could afford to have bad taste." In 2000, he retired from Union Products as president.
Featherstone had fun in his personal life as well: He had 57 of the birds in his backyard, a nod to the year they were designed (they weren't in the front yard because he lived in a college town and didn't want to fall victim to theft), and he enjoyed wearing matching outfits with his wife, Nancy, who made the clothes herself. Featherstone, who had Lewy body dementia, is survived by his wife, children Judith Nelson and Harold Featherstone, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
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