Animator John Coates dies while working on an updated version of the British Christmas classic, “The Snowman.”
British animator John Coates, the man behind such projects such as The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, The Wind in the Willows, and Christmas classic The Snowman, has died at the age of 84, according to a report by The Guardian. The beloved animator died of cancer on Sunday in his home in Longfield, Kent, in the U.K.
Coates had been working part-time on the sequel to the Oscar-nominated The Snowman, which airs annually in the U.K. The sequel, entitled The Snowman and the Snowdog, will air this Christmas on channel 4.
A former British army officer who served in WWII and was later a film distributor in Asia, Coates was one of the most respected figures in the animation industry, with credits including The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends and the animated cult film Heavy Metal.
Coates co-founded TVC in London with George Dunning in 1957, after serving as an army officer in WWII and working as a distributor for Rank films throughout Asia. Upon his return to England, Coates and Dunning set up TVC in London and began producing highly regarded animated shows such as The Snowman (1982), the lovely Christmas tale of the friendship between a boy and his snowman (directed by Dianne Jackson and Jimmy Murakami) which won the BAFTA for Best Children’s Drama and received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Short in 1983.
UPDATE: John Coates was actually 84 when he passed away; he was born in 1927, and his 85th birthday would have been this year on November 7.
Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.