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Jules Engel Passes, Funeral Announced

Animation talent and instructor extraordinaire Jules Engel passed away Sept. 6, 2003 in Simi Valley, California at the age of 94. He had experienced complications from a recent fall.

With him at his death, former student and colleague (and marvelous animator/instructor in her own right), USC Animation's Christine Panushka, said, My heart is heavy with the news that Jules passed today [Sept. 6] at 5:15 pm, at a Simi Valley Hospice. The end was peaceful and Jane Ann Dill was at his side as he slipped away.

For all of us it is a great personal loss. Each of us meant so much to Jules and of course, he to us. We may be comforted that he's not suffering. Even up to the end, Jules was leaving an impression and spreading his special talent, love. One of the hospice caregivers was an animation student who felt so privileged to have Jules there! Thats our Jules!

Born March 11, 1909 in Budapest, Hungary, Engel began his career in the late 1940s at Walt Disney Studios, where he was first recognized for his work on the Chinese and Russian dance sequences in FANTASIA. He was one of the original members of the studio United Prods. of America (UPA), and with the late Robert ("Bobe") Cannon, developed such cartoons as GERALD MC BOING BOING, MADELINE and MR. MAGOO.

Engel was the founding director of the California Institute of the Arts Experimental Animation Program in 1970 and served on the executive board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for 30 years. Engel received a lifetime achievement award April 12, 2003 at Cartoons on the Bay in Positano, Italy.

While former students are numerous, mentionable are Henry Selick (NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS), Eric Darnell (ANTZ), John Lasseter (TOY STORY, A BUGS LIFE), Panushka (ABSOLUT.PANUSHKA) and Ellen Woodbury (THE LION KING).

Cindy Keefer, project director for the Jules Engel Preservation Project reports, I escorted him to his last public event, Saturday, Aug. 9, the week before he went into the hospital. We had a screening at the MAK Center at Schindler House, featuring a new preserved print of Jules' PLAY-PEN. He was delighted, thrilled about the color, and was so gleeful, alive, and happy. We went to Canter's with a group of friends, and stayed out till 1:00 am. What a wonderful night. He was a treasure, truly one of a kind. He will be dearly missed.

In lieu of flowers, friends suggest donations to the Jules Engel Scholarship Fund at CalArts (661-253-7814), or contact Keefer about the Jules Engel Preservation Project, currently underway for Engel's films, at keefco@earthlink.net or (310) 433-4655).

Services will be held at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Old North Church, on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 2:30 pm. The address for Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills is 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, California. 90068, and the telephone number is (800) 204-3131.

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