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Pixar Story Man Joe Ranft Killed In Car Crash

Pixar story man extraordinaire and voice actor Joe Ranft was killed in an automobile accident Aug. 16, 2005, near Mendocino, California, at the age of 45.

Ranft was head of story on the original story teams for Pixars first two films, TOY STORY and A BUGS LIFE, and was a story artist on MONSTERS, INC. He was most recently working as head of story on John Lasseters next film, CARS.

Voice roles he did included Heimlich the Caterpillar in A BUG'S LIFE, Jacques the French Shrimp in FINDING NEMO and Wheezy the Penguin in TOY STORY 2 and BUZZ LIGHTYEAR OF STAR COMMAND: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS. He also did some additional voices in THE INCREDIBLES.

Born March 30, 1960, in Pasadena, California, animation lover Ranft grew up in Whittier, California, and attended CalArts, coincidentally sharing the same interests, hometown and educational background of Pixar director John Lasseter. His Pixar bio states, As such, it was much more than fate that led Joe to join Pixars creative team in 1992.

The CalArts student (and later instructor) cut his professional animation teeth at Hyperion Animation and Walt Disney, where he worked on story for THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE LION KING, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Fantasia/2000, Oliver & Company, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT and THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER. He also did a voice on THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER.

The upcoming TOY STORY 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION DVD contains a behind-the-scenes making of session with Ranft. The DVD will be released Sept. 6 by Buena Vista Home Entertainment and with a SRP of $29.99.

A Pixar spokesperson released this statement, Joe Ranft was a beloved member of the Pixar family and will be dearly missed.

Film critic and animation historian Leonard Maltin, noted, Great storytelling is the foundation of every successful animated feature, and no one understood that better than Joe. Like so many writers he didn't get all the attention he deserved when kudos were being handed out, but he was one of the architects of Disney's animation renaissance and Pixar's emergence."

John Canemaker, head of the film animation program at New York Universitys Tisch School of the Arts/animation filmmaker/author, added, Joe was the top storyboard artist and writer of his generation; his big heart, gentle humor and endless creativity added so much to the Disney and Pixar films. He was heir to the legacy of the great Bill Peet, Disney's legendary storyman. I am devastated by the tragic loss of this great and unique talent, who was also my dear friend."

Services and memorial information with be forthcoming.