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Former Animation Studio Head Morris Sullivan Dies

Morris Sullivan, who helped establish the Irish animation studio responsible for AN AMERICAN TAIL and THE LAND BEFORE TIME, has died in Toluca Lake, California at age 91, according to a LOS ANGELES TIMES obituary.

Sullivan ran a financial consulting firm before he helped found Sullivan Bluth Studios in 1985 with Don Bluth and other former Disney animators, who had produced several shorts and the feature THE SECRET OF NIMH but went bankrupt in 1984. Sullivan Bluth produced AN AMERICAN TAIL in 1986, and the studio was moved to Ireland to produce films more cost-efficiently.

"My father was somewhat of a natural risk-taker," said daughter Terry Sullivan Maphis to the TIMES. "He orchestrated the move to capitalize on the Irish government's special tax subsidies to filmmakers."

Sullivan Bluth employed 400 employees at its peak, producing feature films THE LAND BEFORE TIME in 1988 and ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN in 1989. It closed in 1995 after a major investor withdrew financing, and Bluth and another animator left to set up an animation studio with 20th Century Fox.

Sullivan told Bluth after seeing THE SECRET OF NIMH, "I'm your guardian angel. I'm going to make this work for you," Bluth told the TIMES in 1989. "He came along at a time when we were desperate, and he saved us." Seeing NIMH convinced Sullivan to help the animators continue their work.

Sullivan is survived by nine children, David, Kathleen, Patrick, Michael, Kelly, Mary, Tim, Terry and Dan; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. His wife Rose died in 1971.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, 10850 Moorpark St., North Hollywood.