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.
Category: In Passing
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.
Dave Barry, comedian and voice over actor, has passed away. He died on Thursday, August 16 at his Beverly Hills home. He was 82. Barry began his voice over work for Warner Bros. cartoons in the 1940s. He played Humphrey Bogart in BECALL TO ARMS (1946), SLICK HARE (1947) and 8 BALL BUNNY (1950). In 1958, Barry took over as the voice of Elmer Fudd after the death of Arthur Q. Bryan. He also voiced Bluto in POPEYE and also served in several PINK PANTHER shorts. He is survived by his wife, Ginny; a daughter, Wendy; and four sons, Alan, Dana, Kerry and Steve.
Lorenzo Music, famous for providing his voice to Garfield, passed away on Saturday, August 4. He was 64 years old, and suffered from cancer. Music started in the entertainment industry as a writer on classic sitcoms like SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR, THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and THE BOB NEWHART SHOW. While working as a writer on RHODA, Music lent his voice talents as the unseen, perpetually intoxicated doorman, Carlton. He even went on to voice the pilot episode of the animated spin-off series CARLTON, YOUR DOORMAN, which failed to be picked up but won an Emmy for best animated special.
Ted Berman, Disney animator and director of THE BLACK CAULDRON, passed away on Sunday, July 15, 2001. He was 81 years old. Berman started at Disney in 1940, and remained with the studio for 45 years. He started as a character animator working on BAMBI, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, FANTASIA, LADY AND THE TRAMP, PETER PAN, MARY POPPINS and 101 DALMATIANS. Berman was also a key member in creating the Disney television series, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR and THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB.
William Kent "Kenny" Holaday, a musician and artist for feature and television animation for the past 20 years, died on June 22 at his Shadow Hills ranch of complications brought on by a thyroid condition. He was 49 year old. He started his animation career in 1975 as clean-up artist for Hanna-Barbera, and in 1980 moved to Disney Feature Animation in the same capacity. At Disney, he served as a clean-up artist or assistant animator on such feature films as PETE'S DRAGON, THE FOX AND THE HOUND, THE LION KING and TARZAN.
Veteran animator and instructor Lee Mishkin, who won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short for his 1970 film IS IT ALWAYS RIGHT TO BE RIGHT?, passed away on June 19, 2001. He was 74. Mishkin suffered heart failure and died in his sleep with his family at his side. He had formally retired just six weeks ago, moving to a care facility in Seattle after having spent the last seven years in Vancouver, where he developed the classical animation curriculum and taught at VanArts. The school has started the Lee Mishkin Scholarship Fund to honor the late animator.
On June 1, 2001, Hank Ketchum, creator of the DENNIS THE MENACE comic strip, died at his Pebble Beach, California home. He was 81 years old, and had suffered from heart disease and cancer, according to his publicist, Linda Dozoretz. Ketcham began his famous comic strip in 1951, drawing inspiration from his 4 year-old son. This past March marked his 50th year of publication, with the strip running in 1,000 newspapers, 48 countries and 19 languages. A television show based on the strip ran on CBS from 1959 to 1963. Ketcham was born March 14, 1920, in Seattle, Washington.
Maurice J. Noble, co-director of the Academy Award-winning animated short subject DOT AND THE LINE and many other cartoon classics, died Friday, May 18, 2001. He was 91 years old. His unique and innovative use of color and design is apparent in landmark Disney films such as SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, BAMBI and DUMBO. His work on more than 60 Warner Bros. cartoons featuring characters such as Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner helped create a new look and approach to animation that continues to influence designers today.
A memorial service for Mr. Hanna has been scheduled for Monday, April 2, at 6:00 pm, at:
Warner Bros. Studios
Steven J. Ross Theater
4000 Warner Boulevard
Guests are asked to enter through Gate 7/Forest Lawn Drive, and not to arrive before 5:15 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to one of the following:
The William D. Hanna Research Fund
c/o Elly Brtva
919 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1100
On Thursday, March 22, 2001, one of the fathers of TV animation, William Hanna, died at his home in North Hollywood, California. He was 90 years old. Born in Melrose, New Mexico, on July 14, 1910, Hanna and his partner, Joseph Barbera created such beloved cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound and Scooby-Doo. Hanna, a trained engineer, began his animation career during the Depression when he took an ink and paint position at Harman-Ising Studios.
Norma Macmillan, the voice of UNDERDOG's Sweet Polly Purebread, has passed away. She suffered a heart attack and died Friday afternoon at her home in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She was 79. Macmillian also provided voices for Goo and other characters on THE GUMBY SHOW, Davey's sister Sally on DAVEY & GOLIATH and Kokette on MEAN MOE. During John F. Kennedy's presidency, Macmillan contributed voices to the popular Kennedy family parody album, THE FIRST FAMILY. She also appeared in such live-action features as HEAD OVER HEALS and BIG BULLY.
Richard Stone, the music composer for many Warner Animation TV series, has passed away. He died on Thursday, March 8 of pancreatic cancer. He was only 47 years old. He is the man responsible for the ANIMANIACS, PINKY & THE BRAIN, FREAKAZOID and THE SYLVESTER & TWEETY MYSTERIES theme songs. Stone started as a music editor for such films as WITNESS and PLATOON. He later worked on other Warner TV cartoons such as HISTERIA, ROAD ROVERS and the direct-to-video features TINY TOON ADVENTURES: HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION and WAKKO'S WISH.
Fred Lasswell, the cartoonist behind SNUFFY SMITH for the past 60 years, passed away on Sunday, March 4 at his home in Tampa, Florida. The cause of death was congestive heart failure. He was 84 years old. He continued to work on the SNUFFY strip up until his death, leaving behind 49 unpublished cartoons. In 1934, Lasswell became an assistant to cartoonist Billy DeBeck, creator of TAKE BARNEY GOOGLE, FOR INSTANCE and SNUFFY. Lasswell took over SNUFFY in 1942 after DeBeck's death. He would focus his career on the Smith character, a card-playing, moonshine-making hillbilly from Hootin' Holler.
Alison de Vere, the creator of THE BLACK DOG and MR. PASCAL, has passed away. She was 73 years old. Her first regular industry job was with the Halas and Batchelor Studio, which she started in 1951, as a background designer on public relations films. In 1957 she became the head of the Guild Television Services' animation unit. There she directed and designed TV commercials. In 1960 she made her first independent film entitled TWO FACES, based on some of her poetry. She joined TVC in 1967 as design director for YELLOW SUBMARINE. One can catch a cameo of de Vere in the Eleanor Rigby sequence.
Thomas G. Yohe, co-creator of the classic interstitials "Schoolhouse Rock," passed away on Thursday, December 21, 2000. Yohe had pancreatic cancer and was 63 years old. Yohe and partner George Newall produced 40 editions of "Schoolhouse Rock" from 1973-1985. The three-minute musical lessons aired between cartoons on ABC's Saturday Morning line-up. A revival of the series came in the early 1990s when new episodes where commissioned and current alternative bands covered the series' songs for a tribute album.
Jack S. Liebowitz, the comic book publisher who first brought Superman to the page, passed away on Monday, December 11 at his home in Great Neck, New York. He was 100 years old. Liebowitz immigrated to New York in 1910 from his birthplace in Proskurov, Ukraine. He and his partner, former pulp magazine publisher Harry Donenfeld, started publishing the series DETECTIVE COMICS in 1937. This title was the first successful comic centering on one theme. The series later provided the name for the company DC Comics.
Hoyt Curtin, composer for classic cartoons from UPA and Hanna-Barbera, passed away Sunday, December 10, 2000 at his Southern California home. Curtin was 78-years-old. In November, Curtin won the ASIFA-Hollywood Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement, but was too ill to attend the ceremony. He started his career writing commercial jingles and a few tunes for UPA's MR. MAGOO. From the late 1950s through the early 1990s, Curtin worked on many famous Hanna-Barbera cartoons. He composed the themes for such series as THE FLINTSTONES, TOP CAT, THE JETSONS and JONNY QUEST.
Jack Ozark, animator and newspaper sports cartoonist, died on November 16, 2000. He was 82-years-old. In 1931, Ozark started his career at the Fleischer Studios, animating on POPEYE, BETTY BOOP and GULLIVER'S TRAVELS. He served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and afterward moved to Los Angeles to work on the early Hanna-Barbera shows YOGI BEAR, FLINTSTONES and TOP CAT. He specialized in animating Snagglepuss and Wally Gator. He finished out his career at Filmation on HE-MAN and SHE-RA until his retirement in 1987. He was awarded the L.A. Cartoonists' Union 839 Golden Award in 1992.
Soviet animator Vyacheslav Kotenochkin, creator of the world-famous slapstick cartoon NU, POGODI, died on November 20, 2000 after a battle with a long illness. He was 74-years-old. NU, POGODI, which screened in theaters around the globe, chronicled the misadventures of a hungry, dimwitted wolf that constantly chased a wide-eye rabbit. The Roadrunner-esque cartoons always ended with the wolf shouting, "Nu, pogodi!
Pierre Jacquier, who served as president of the Annecy Festival from 1977 to 1984, has passed away after a long illness. Jacquier was instrumental in the festival's growth and helped push the festival toward highlighting cutting-edge work in animation. Along with Nicole Salomon, Jacquier also helped establish the festival's market. In addition to his festival duties, he was a board member of the Annecy Town Council. AWN's Annick Teninge, former assistant director of Annecy, said, "I always admired his long-term vision, his dedication to the festival and his immense cultural appreciation.
One of the founders of the UPA animation studio, William Hurtz, has passed away. He was 81 years old. Hurtz started his career at Disney in 1938 as an assistant. He assisted Art Babbitt on FANTASIA's "Mushroom Dance Sequence." Hurtz was an active member of the Hollywood Cartoonists' Union and made the motion to strike at Disney in 1941. Hurtz spent the war years at the Film Motion Picture Unit. FMPU was stationed in Culver City as part of the U.S. Army Signal Corps under Major Rudy Ising of Harmon & Ising fame. Throughout World War II they did training cartoons for overseas servicemen.