Irving Ludwig, former president of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, and one of the most respected and innovative executives in theatrical film distribution, passed away at his home in Santa Monica, California, from natural causes on Nov. 26. He was 95-years -old.
Category: In Passing
Actor Pat Morita, best known for his iconic role as martial-arts master/handy man Mr. Miyagi in THE KARATE KID franchise, has died, reported the AP. He was 73.
There were conflicting reports regarding the cause of death. His daughter Aly Morita stated he died Nov. 24, 2005, of heart failure at a Las Vegas hospital; while longtime manager Arnold Soloway said he died of kidney failure at a hospital where he was awaiting a transplant.
Independent animator/educator/writer Wendy Jackson Hall passed away Nov. 14, 2005, at Harrison Hospital in Bremerton, Washington. She was hospitalized over the past weekend for blood clots in her lungs and was trying to get stabilized enough undergo biopsies for cancer when she died at age 32 of complications from the clots.
Director/animator/producer/composer Derek Lamb passed away Nov. 5, 2005, in Washington after a long battle with cancer. His wife Tracie Smart was at his side.
Lamb started his animation career with the National Film Board of Canada in the 1960s. He worked extensively as a writer, director and producer in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, both in commercial and experimental film.
Performer, singer, songwriter and Smurf voice over actor Hamilton Camp (aka Bob Camp and Hamid Hamilton Camp) died on Oct. 2, 2005, after a fall outside his Hancock Park home in Los Angeles, at the age of 70. The cause of death is still being determined, said his son, Hamilton Camp Jr.
Bob Denver, the pop culture icon who will forever be remembered as the title character on GILLIGANS ISLAND, died on Sept. 2, 2005, from complications due to surgery for throat cancer. He was 70 years old. For animation fans, Denver again took on the role of Gilligan for the Filmation produced cartoon, GILLIGANS PLANET. The series lasted one season on CBS in 1982, with the original cast of characters marooned on a distant planet instead of an isolated island.
A memorial service has been set for Joe Ranft, one of the animation industrys most respected and talented story specialists, who died in a car accident near Mendocino, California, on Aug. 16, 2005 (see AWN report). The Pixar fixture had just completed story work on the studios latest feature, CARS.
The Friends and Colleagues Memorial Service will be held Saturday, Sept. 17, 2005. Details regarding the time and location are available by calling (510) 752-4455.
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.
Long John Baldry, a British blues-rock singer who helped start the careers of the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Elton John and other British stars, died of a severe chest infection on July 21, 2005, in Vancouver, British Columbia, reports THE NEW YORK TIMES. He was 64.
Byron C. Preiss, an author and a publisher who specialized in illustrated books by celebrities, graphic novels and science fiction, died in a car accident on July 9, 2005, in East Hampton, New York, reports THE NEW YORK TIMES. He was 52 and lived in Manhattan.
Preiss, the president of Byron Preiss Visual Publications and Ibooks, was one of the first publishers to release CD-ROM's and electronic books.
Norman Prescott, chairman, co-founder and exec producer at Filmation Studios, died July 2, 2005, of natural causes in Los Angeles, according to VARIETY. He was 78.
Animation advertising veteran Lou Hertz died at his home in Atlanta on July 4, 2005, after a brief battle with cancer; he was 73.
Hertz was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and studied at the University Of Miami, where he claimed to have majored in suntanning, according to a family bio. He served two years as a lieutenant in the Air Force where he began his career as an animator by making training films for bomber crews. Hertz was an animator for United Artists in Hollywood before he settled in Atlanta in 1957.
Cartoonist Rowland B. Wilson passed away on June 28, 2005. Wilson is best known for his strips for magazines such as TV GUIDE, PLAYBOY and THE NEW YORKER. He also worked in animation at Walt Disney Feature Animation on such films as THE LITTLE MERMAID, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, TARZAN and HERCULES). He moved on to work with Don Bluth on THUMBELINA) and for the Richard Williams studio. He won a daytime Emmy for Educational Animation for his work on ABCs SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK, as well as PLAYBOY MAGAZINE's Cartoonist of the Year Award.
Grammy-nominated Hollywood singer/actress Robie Lester, who was the singing voice behind Eva Gabor in THE ARISTOCATS and THE RESCUERS, died June 14, 2005, of cancer at St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank at age 75.
Paul Winchell, a ventriloquist, inventor and children's TV show host best known for creating the voice of Winnie the Pooh's animated friend Tigger, died on June 24, 2005, in his sleep at his home in Moorpark, California. He was 82.
Actor John Fiedler, whose distinctive high-pitched voice brought life to Winnie-the-Poohs Piglet, died on June 25, 2005. He was 80.
Fiedler began voicing Piglet in the Oscar-winning short WINNIE THE POOH AND THE BLUSTERY DAY in 1968 and continued up until his death. His other animation roles included Porcupine in THE FOX AND THE HOUND, Sexton Mouse in ROBIN HOOD, Deacon Owl in THE RESCUERS and a small role in THE EMPERORS NEW GROOVE.
Comic book publisher Bruce Hamilton passed away on June 20, 2005, following a prolonged illness. In 1981, Hamilton, along with Russ Cochran, two long-time Disney comics fans, decided to combine forces to bring greater recognition to the work of one of the greats of comic art Carl Barks, creator of the popular Disney comic book character, Uncle Scrooge McDuck, miserly-yet-adventurous uncle of Donald Duck.
Marie Johnston, the wife of legendary Disney animator Ollie Johnston, passed away on May 20 from complications due to pneumonia, at her home in Flintridge, California. She was 87 years old and had been in declining health. The Johnstons celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary earlier this year.
Thurl Ravenscroft, who provided the rumbling "They're Grrrrreeeat!" for Kellogg's Tony the Tiger ads and voiced many Disney characters, has died of prostate cancer, reports CNN. He was 91.
"I'm the only man in the world that has made a career with one word: Grrrrreeeat!" Ravenscroft told the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER in 1996. "When Kellogg's brought up the idea of the tiger, they sent me a caricature of Tony to see if I could create something for them. After messing around for some time I came up with the 'Grrrrreeeat!' roar, and that's how it's been since then."
Howard Morris, best known for roles on YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS and as poetry-spouting Ernest T. Bass on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, died on May 22, 2005, reports CNN. He was 85.
For his animation career, the comedian was under contract in the 1960s with Hanna-Barbara Prods. and ended up providing voices for such shows as THE JETSONS, THE FLINTSTONES, ATOM ANT, THE ARCHIE SHOW, BEETLE BAILEY, MY FAVORITE MARTIANS, COW AND CHICKEN and DUCKTALES. He also did most of the voices for Gene Deitch's Oscar-winning classic short, MUNRO.
Henry Corden, the second voice of Fred Flintstone died May 19, 2005, of emphysema at AMI Encino Hospital, at the age of 85, according to his longtime agent Don Pitts. Corden's wife of nine years, Angelina, was with him at the time.
Born in Montreal, Canada, Corden moved to New York City as a child and came to Hollywood in the 1940s. His first acting role was in the 1947 Boris Karloff film, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY. With his dark hair, bearded face and deep voice, Corden often played villains and heavies.
Joe Grant, one of Walt Disneys most creative and trusted artists and storymen, who designed the Queen/Witch character in SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, and co-wrote DUMBO, passed away May 6 at his home in Glendale, California. He was 96, just nine days short of his 97th birthday. Grant suffered a heart attack while working at his drawing board at his home studio. Still very active, Grant continued to work at Walt Disney Feature Animation four days a week, including the day before he died.
Animator/director Ed Eddie Friedman passed away on April 29, 2005, at the age of 92 in Los Angeles, due to complications from a stroke he had suffered a stroke about a year ago. From 1933 until 1989, Friedman worked for Iwerks, Mintz/Screen Gems, John Sutherland, Disney, UPA, Format, Bagle Productions, Ed Graham and Filmation.
Cartoonist Emil Samuel Zekley (aka Zeke Zekley), 90, died April 28, 2005 at his Beverly Hills home, with his family at his side, after a long illness.
He drew BRINGING UP FATHER/MAGGIE AND JIGGS, PEACHY KEEN, DUD DUDLEY, MCDONALDLAND MAGAZINES, THE SQUIRRELS CLUB MAGAZINE for Glendale Federal Savings and AT EASE magazine for the U.S. Army.
BLUES CLUES animator Paul Beard died April 22, 2005, from injuries suffered the previous day in a two-vehicle crash southeast of Kansas City, Missouri, reports THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS. He was 27 years old.
Beard, a 2000 graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, was a passenger in a Ford Explorer driven by his girlfriend, Elizabeth Smail, when she lost control and swerved into oncoming traffic on state highway 13. A second Ford Explorer struck the passenger-side door, where Beard was sitting. Smail was injured, but survived.