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.
Category: In Passing
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.
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!
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.
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.
On Friday, August 25, 2000, cartoonist Carl Barks, who reinvented the fowl-mouthed Donald Duck into an endearing Everyman on the comic book page, passed away. He died at his home in southern Oregon of leukemia. He was 99 years old. Barks started his association with the Walt Disney Co. in the early 1930s as an in-betweener and then moved over to the story department to write gags for many of the early Donald Duck cartoons. In 1943, he moved over to Western Publishing, which published Walt Disney comic books, to draw the Donald Duck segments for WALT DISNEY COMICS & STORIES.
Raymond Eugene "Gene" Portwood Jr., a one-time Disney animator and the co-creator of the ground breaking computer game, WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO?, has passed. On July 17, 2000, Portwood died of a heart attack in the Windsor, California convalescent center, where he was staying to recover from a stroke 18 months earlier. He was 66 years old. In 1950, Portwood skipped college and went directly to work at Disney. He eventually helped draw scenes for LADY AND THE TRAMP, SLEEPING BEAUTY and CAPTAIN HOOK.
Best known for his work on SLEEPLING BEAUTY and LADY AND THE TRAMP, Eyvind Earle, creator of eclectic backgrounds for Disney cartoons, has passed away. He was 84 years old. Earle succumbed to esophageal cancer on Thursday, July 20, 2000. The 1953 Academy Award and Cannes Film Festival winning short film, TOOT, WHISTLE, PLUNK AND BOOM, is the film that made people truly notice Earles artwork. His other toon credits include PETER PAN, FOR WHOM THE BULLS TOIL, WORKING FOR PEANUTS, PIGS IS PIGS and PAUL BUNYAN.
On Thursday, June 8, 2000, the three-time Pulitzer Prize winning creator of the comic strip SHOE, Jeff MacNelly passed away. He died at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, succumbing to lymphoma, which he has been fighting since late last year. In 1972 at the age of 24, MacNelly won the Pulitzer for one of his political cartoons for the RICHMOND NEW LEADER. He had been working there for only 16 months. Before leaving the NEW LEADER in 1982, he received his second Pulitzer Prize in 1978.
Warner Bros. cartoon director Art Davis passed away on May 9, 2000 at 3 pm. An underrated and overlooked director of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, Davis directed many Daffy Duck and Porky Pig cartoons in his tenure. He directed one classic Bugs Bunny toon in 1949 called BOWERY BUGS. Davis started his animation career in 1921 and is credited with being the industry's first in-betweener. Davis took over the Clampett unit as director in 1945. After his unit was dissolved in 1948, he continued on as an animator and story man in the Freleng unit until the studio closed.
On Friday, March 3, 2000, Belgian animation film director and illustrator Nicole van Goethem passed away unexpectedly at the age of 58 in her hometown of Antwerp. The cause of death is unknown. Since 1974, Nicole van Goethem has worked on various animation productions, serving in the background, color selection and special effects fields. Among her credits, she participated in the feature length film TARZOON produced by Picha.
Jim Varney, the comic who most recently provided the voice of Slinky Dog in
TOY STORY and TOY STORY 2, died on Thursday, February 10, 2000 at his
Tennessee home of lung cancer. He was 50 years old. Best known for his
Ernest character in commercials, television and films, Varney also provided
voice over work for characters on the THE SIMPSONS. Varney was the star of
several Disney Ernest films, most notably ERNEST GOES TO CAMP and ERNEST
SAVES CHRISTMAS. Doctors diagnosed Varney with cancer in August 1998, and
On the eve of the final PEANUTS comic strip, creator Charles Schulz died of
a heart attack at his Santa Rosa, California home. He was 77 years old. As
reported [AF 11/21/99], Charles Schulz had decided to retire from drawing
his weekly comic strip after several strokes and newly diagnosed cancer had
left him partially blind in one eye and too weak to keep up with the
rigorous routine. A private funeral will be held later this week. He is
survived by his wife, Jeannie; two sons Monte and Craig; and daughter Jill
Michael Webster, who established Walt Disney's television animation
division in 1984, passed away at the age 60 following a long battle with
multiple sclerosis. On Saturday, January 29, 2000, Mr. Webster succumbed to
complications from pneumonia at his home in Port Townsend, Washington,
U.S.A. During his 42 year tenure, Webster created the Walt Disney
Television Animation division and served as its senior VP until his
retirement in 1992. He oversaw production of the Emmy-winning NEW