Veteran Hollywood screenwriter Maurice Rapf who wrote DISNEY'S SONG OF THE SOUTH and co-founded the Writers Guild of America (WGA), died April 15, 2003 at the age of 88 in Hanover, New Hampshire. Rapf was the son of Harry Rapf, one of the MGM Studio pioneers. He appeared briefly as a child actor. While attending Dartmouth College he went on a summer trip to the USSR in 1934. He became active in politics and attended Communist Party functions. Rapf became a Hollywood writer of live-action features and later helped found the WGA.
Category: In Passing
David Brown, co-founder and ceo of Blue Sky Studios, passed away April 11, 2003 at the age of 64 in Westchester County, New York. Brown, joined MAGI SynthaVision to lead the newly opened New York sales and production facility. As the industry downsized in the late '80s he helped co-found Blue Sky Productions (later renamed Blue Sky Studios), in White Plains, New York in 1987. In the early years he concentrated on developing an animation language built around ray tracing mathematics. Blue Sky focused on photo realism and character animation.
Cecile de Brunhoff, the lady who invented the story of the little elephant, BABAR, in 1931 to tell her boys as a bedtime story, has died of a stroke at the age of 99 in Paris on April 7, 2003, it was reported by the LOS ANGELES TIMES. Her husband, painter Jean de Brunhoff illustrated the story, actually named the elephant and created Celestre, Sephir and the Old Lady who takes care of young Barbar after his mother is killed.
Margaret Hale, one of the founding members of ASIFA-SF who ran ink-and-paint departments for more than 20 years, died of a heart attack at the age of 76 on February 16, 2003 at her home in Jacksonville, Oregon. Born and educated in England, she met her husband Jeff Hale when they were students at the Royal Academy of Art. They soon moved to Canada to work in animation and then moved to the U.S. in 1964 to work for Imagination, Inc. in San Francisco, California, which they ultimately owned. The company was known for its commercials and work for SEASAME STREET.
Cartoonist Bill Mauldin died of respiratory failure at a nursing home in Newport Beach where he had lived since mid-2001 while battling Alzheimer's disease. He was awarded in 1944 for his World War II cartoon G.I.s, Willie and Joe, and again in 1959 for providing his visual commentary on Boris Pasternaks treatment by the Soviets.
Artist Al Hirschfeld, one of the best known caricaturists in history, died in his sleep at his home in New York City on January 20, 2003. He was 99. Best known for his witty caricatures of actors and personalities, Hirschfeld's drawings also provided the inspiration for the "Rhapsody in Blue" segment of FANTASIA 2000. Directed by Eric Goldberg, the segment evoked New York in the 1930s. Hirschfeld, whose life was detailed in the 1996 documentary, THE LINE KING, was also well known in the American theater community.
Estelle Blanc, wife of legendary voice actor Mel Blanc, died Sunday, January 12, 2003 in Santa Monica, California of natural causes. She was 92. Born in Denver, Colorado, Estelle Rosenbaum began her career in early radio with soon-to-be husband Mel in 1932 in Portland, Oregon where they co-hosted a one-hour radio show called COBWEBS AND NUTS. Married in 1933, the couple moved to Los Angeles in 1936. There, Mel joined Warner Bros. where he gained fame as the signature voices of the characters Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester & Tweety, Tazmanian Devil, Wyle E.
Karl Cohen of ASIFA-SF has brought AWN the news that animator Zack Schwartz, one of the founders of UPA, passed away on January 13, 2003 in Israel. After working at Disney, most notably as an art director on BAMBI and FANTASIA, Schwartz went on to work under Frank Tashlin at Screen Gems and was a founder of UPA. In 1946, Schwartz sold his interest in the studio and moved to New York, where he worked in television advertising, eventually becoming an advertising agency executive.
William "Tex" Henson, who supervised animation on ROCKY & BULLWINKLE and was a force behind the popularity of CHIP 'N DALE, died Monday, December 2, 2002 of head injuries after being hit by a pickup truck in Dallas, Texas. He was 78 years old. Born in Dallas, Henson moved to California to join Disney Studios in 1944, where he was an animator on films such as SONG OF THE SOUTH, PECOS BILL and PETER AND THE WOLF. He was also one of the forces behind Chip & Dale's leap from bit players to outright stars. The chipmunk duo went on to star in 23 theatrical cartoons.
Glenn McQueen, supervising animator for some of Pixar's biggest hits, including A BUG'S LIFE and MONSTERS, INC., died on October 29, 2002 in Berkeley, California at the age of 41. The cause of death was melanoma, which he was diagnosed with in December 2001. McQueen had worked at Pixar since 1994, helping to create such memorable characters as Woody from TOY STORY and MONSTERS, INC.'s Boo. He was working as animation supervisor on Pixar's next animated feature CARS when he passed away.
Emmy-winning television writer Hilary Bader has died of breast cancer Thursday, November 7, 2002. She was 50 years old. Bader is probably best known as one of the writers of the Emmy and Annie award winning series BATMAN BEYOND, and has also penned scripts for Kids' WB! series THE ZETA PROJECT and the STAR TREK series THE NEXT GENERATION, DEEP SPACE NINE and VOYAGER.
The Animation Guild has informed AWN that animator Tom Ferriter has passed away at the age of 74. He started his animation career at Disney in 1955, and went on to work for Filmation, Hanna-Barbera, Krantz and Chuck Jones. He returned to Disney in 1976, where he remained until his retirement in 1990. Ferriter's credits include THE FLINTSTONES TV series and the feature films THE LITTLE MERMAID, THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, THE FOX AND THE HOUND and THE WHITE SEAL.
Buddy Baker, a 29-year Disney veteran who composed the musical scores for nearly 200 Disney feature films, television shows and theme park attractions, passed away from natural causes on Friday, July 26, 2002, at his home in Sherman Oaks, California. He was 84 years old. Baker first came to the Disney Studio in 1954 and went on to compose music for such popular television shows as DAVY CROCKETT and THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB. His theatrical credits include the featurette DONALD IN MATHMAGIC LAND, plus memorable scores for the three original WINNIE THE POOH offerings.
Gene Moss, co-writerof the classic '60s cartoon ROGER RAMJET, has died at age 75. REUTERSreports that Moss died of cancer on July 15, 2002 at the EisenhowerMedical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. After a career injournalism and as an advertising copywriter, Moss and his partner JimThurman teamed to co-write all 156 episodes of ROGER RAMJET, theshort-lived 1965 series that featured Gary Owens as the voice of thetitular hero who, with the American Eagle Squadron, battled Noodles
Ward Kimball, one of Disney's legendary Nine Old Men, passed away on July 8, 2002 from natural causes at Arcadia Methodist Hospital in Arcadia, California. He was 88 years old. Ward Kimball's work at Disney began in 1934, when he joined the animation staff at the age of twenty.
Bill Peet, author and illustrator of 35 children's books and the legendary Disney storyman who is credited with writing 101 DALMATIANS, passed away on Saturday, May 11, 2002 at the age of 87. He died at his home in Studio City due to complications from several long-term illnesses. Peet joined Disney Studios in 1937 at the age of 22. He went to work immediately as an apprentice animator on SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS.
Animation World Network is saddened to report that legendary animator/director Chuck Jones passed away on Friday, February 22, 2002 of congestive heart failure. He was 89 years old. Jones animation career, which spanned 60 years, took off in 1932 when Ub Iwerks hired him as a cel washer. In 1936 Jones became an animator for the Leon Schlesinger Studio (later sold to Warner Bros.), and in 1938 directed his first film, THE NIGHT WATCHMAN. Heading his own unit, Jones remained at Warner Bros. Animation Dept. until it closed in 1962.
Storyboard artist and former Local 839 IATSE president Tom Yakutis died January 25, 2002 after a long illness. Yakutis began his career at Disney in 1956 and worked for Larry Harmon, Art Scott, UPA, TV Spots, DePatie-Freleng, Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, Warner Bros., Marvel and Universal before retiring in 1994. He was elected to several Local 839 Executive Boards in the '60s and '70s, and served as president from 1982 to 1983. There will be a memorial service and traditional Catholic High Mass (in Lithuanian) held February 6, 2002 at 11 am at St. Casimir Church, 2718 St.
Oscar-winning animator Ernest Pintoff died Saturday, January 12, 2002 from complications related to a stroke. He was 70. Pintoff helped to define a new look for animation in the 1950's through his work at UPA and Terrytoons. While at UPA he worked on THE GERALD MCBOING BOING SHOW, the first animated program made especially for network television. Gene Deitch brought him to Terrytoons in 1957, where Pintoff created FLEBUS.
Oscar-winning, independent animator Faith Hubley passed away in New Haven, Connecticut on Friday, December 7, 2001 of cancer. She was 77 years old. Hubley was a native of New York, where she and her husband John established Hubley Studio in 1955. Prior to Johns death in 1977, the Hubleys created 21 animated films together, including the Academy Award winners, HOLE, MOONBIRD and HERB ALPERT AND THE TIJUANA BRASS DOUBLE FEATURE. Faith Hubley collected many awards over her long career.
Illustrator and cartoonist Gray Morrow (born Dwight Graydon Morrow, 1934) passed away at his home in central Pennsylvania on Tuesday, November 6, 2001. Although he had suffered with health problems the last few years, his death was unexpected. "Gray was both a participant in and a witness to comics history," said Insight Studios Group's Mark Wheatley, who edited GRAY MORROW VISIONARY, published last summer. "He was a master illustrator who had the respect and friendship of his peers.
After battling a lengthy illness, the legendary Polish animator and artist, Jan Lenica died on October 5, 2001 in Berlin. He was 73 years old. Jan Lenica was born in 1928 in Poznan, Poland. He studied architecture at the Technical University of Warsaw. After leaving Poland, he moved to Paris and later to the U.S., where in 1974 he became a professor at Harvard University in Cambridge. In 1979 Lenica became the head of the animated films department at the University of Kassel in Germany.
After an illustrious career in visual effects spanning more than 30 years, computer graphics pioneer Robert Abel passed away on Sunday, September 23, 2001. A legend in the visual effects community, Robert Abel was responsible for early innovations in computer graphics and special effects. In 1971 he founded Robert Abel and Associates with friend and collaborator Con Pederson. He began his early groundbreaking work in vector graphics and created the first motion-capture system in 1984. Bob later worked extensively in raster graphics that birthed 3D computer graphics as we know them today.
Award-winning stop-motion animator Billy Greene was found shot dead just outside of his apartment in the 4300 block of Adeline St. in Emeryville, California on September 10, 2001. He was 33 years old. Police say there was evidence the killer tried to remove his wallet, but had fled without it or its contents. His body was found just after midnight. No suspects were seen and no arrests have been made.
Jim Russell, artist for Australia's THE POTTS comic strip, passed away on August 15, 2001. He was 92 years old. Russell held the world record for the longest running comic strip done by one artist unaided. For 62 years, he drew THE POTTS, which was created in 1920 by Stan Cross and was handed over to Russell in 1939. In the 1950s, Russell decided to liven up the series with the creation of Uncle Dick, who became the star of the series and is widely regarded as Russell's alter ego. He was a member of the National Cartoonists' Society in the U.S.