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.
Category: In Passing
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
On Wednesday, January 12, 2000, Walt Disney's legendary animator Marc Davis
passed away at Glendale Memorial Hospital shortly following a stroke. He
was 86 years old. Davis was a member of Disney's inner circle known as the
"nine old men." During his 43-year tenure at the studio, Davis brought to
life such classic characters as Bambi, Cinderella, Alice, Briar Rose,
Maleficent and Cruella DeVil. In addition to creating many of Disney's
female characters, he served as a key player in the development of many of
For over thirty years, Don Martin's crazy comics filled the pages of MAD
magazine. On Sunday, January 9, 2000, Marin died in a Miami hospital at the
age of 68. A representative of Baptist Hospital says the cartoonist died of
cancer. No further details were disclosed. Martin's weirdo humor disgusted
mothers and delighted young rebels for nearly three decades. No person or
tale was free from Martin's eye for twisted satire. For example, his strips
Darris Dobbs, a well known and respected 3D/CGI writer and artist, died
peacefully at home on November 24, 1999, never having recovered from a
respiratory virus. He was 37. Darris contributed to Visual Magic Magazine
on a number of occasions, as well as writing a number of books for Charles
River Media Publishing (including ANIMATING FACIAL FEATURES AND
EXPRESSIONS, and the recently published TRUESPACE 3 & 4 CREATURE
CREATIONS). He also founded his own business -- HieroglyFX Design -- a
David Allen, one of a handful of truly great stop-motion animators, died of cancer on Monday, August 16. Hewas 55. Allen's work in commercials includes animating the Swiss Miss andearly Pillsbury Doughboy in the 1960s, and his feature work includesCAVEMAN (1981), Q-THE WINGED SERPENT (1982), WILLOW (1988) and FREAKED(1993). For ten years he had been working on an independent project, afeature called PRIMEVALS. (The film will be finished at Full Moon Studioswhere the film was being animated before Allen's death.) Allen began his
Actor DeForest Kelley, STAR TREK's Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy died Friday,June 10 after an extended illness. Kelley, born January 20, 1920, inAtlanta, Georgia, US, played supporting roles in a number of movies,including THE MAN IN THE GRAY FLANNEL SUIT (1956); GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K.CORRAL (1957), RAINTREE COUNTY (1957), and APACHE UPRISING (1966). STARTREK creator and producer Gene Roddenberry had wanted Kelley to play thedoctor in STAR TREK from the get-go, having worked with him previously on
Helen Aberson Mayer, co-author with Harold Perl of "Dumbo, the FlyingElephant," the children's book that inspired the 1941 Walt Disney animatedfeature, DUMBO, died April 3, 1999 in her Manhattan home. She was 92. Bornin Syracuse, New York in 1907, Mayer, who was known as Helen Aberson whenshe wrote "Dumbo," moved from Syracuse, to Los Angeles, California in 1939at the request of the Walt Disney Company.
In her story, Dumbo the baby elephant is teased for his oversized ears, but
Elfriede Fischinger died quietly in her sleep at her home on Thursday, May13, 1999. She was born September 17, 1910, in Gelnhausen near Frankfurt,Germany. She attended the prestigious College of Design in Offenbach, andin 1931 one of her abstract textile designs won a prize and was publishedin a magazine as well as exhibited in Berlin, where she met her futurehusband, animator and painter Oskar Fischinger. They were married in 1933and she worked on many of his subsequent films. In 1936 they emigrated to
David McCall, creator of Schoohouse Rock, died April 18th in a car accidentnear Kukes, Albania, along with his wife, Penny, and RefugeesInternational's European representative Yvette Pierpaoli and the car'sAlbanian driver. The McCalls were en route from Tirana to Kukes, theprimary reception point for Kosovar refugees. They were on a mission forRefugees International, the Washington, D.C.-based organization on whoseboard Mr. and Mrs. McCall served. Part of the mission was to explore
Evelyn Lambart, filmmaker and close associate of Norman McLaren, died Saturday, April 3 at the age of 84.
Lambart studied commercial art at the Ontario College of Art.
Jean Vander Pyl, who was best known as the voice of Wilma Flinstone onHanna-Barbera's THE FLINTSTONES TV series, died Saturday, April 10 at herhome in Dana Point. She was 79.
Although born in Philadelphia, she moved to Los Angeles while still ateenager and attended Beverly Hills High and UCLA. Her career began as aradio performer for several radio series including AMOS AND ANDY, LUX RADIOTHEATRE, STUDIO ONE, and FATHER KNOWS BEST.
In the late 1950's, she began doing voice work for Hanna-Barbera, and
Legendary Warner Bros. layout artist, Hawley Pratt, who worked predominantly under the direction of Friz Freleng, passed away March 4 at the age of 87. He was raised in New York City and ironically graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. In the 1930s, Pratt became an artist at Walt Disney Studios but soon found himself at Warners where he worked on all of Freleng's Oscar-winning cartoons including TWEETY PIE, SPEEDY GONZALEZ and BIRDS ANONYMOUS, and was nominated for an Oscar as director of the 1966 DePatie-Freleng short, THE PINK BLUEPRINT.
John McGrew, a layout artist for Chuck Jones Warner Bros. unit from 1938 to 1943, passed away on January 11, 1999 in France at the age of 88. McGrews contributions to the artform are often overlooked because of the short time he spent in the business, but his layouts and color stylings for THE DOVER BOYS, THE ARISTO-CAT, CONRAD THE SAILOR and SUPER RABBIT, among others films, were groundbreaking and revolutionary for their time. Chuck Jones has often said in interviews that McGrew helped introduce a more abstract and design-influenced background style.
Herbert "Herb" Klynn, a pioneer in motion picture and television animation, passed away on February 3 at the age of 81. Combining graphic design and artistic talents, he worked at UPA from 1944 to 1959 on classic characters like Mr. Magoo, Madeline and Gerald McBoing-Boing, eventually rising to become the studio's Vice President and Production Chief. In 1959, he founded Format Productions with Jules Engel and was responsible for the creation of such popular animation series as THE ALVIN SHOW, THE LONE RANGER, and THE CURIOSITY SHOP, a collaboration with director Chuck Jones.
Betty Lou Gerson, the actress behind the distinctive voice of fur-loving villainess Cruella De Vil, in Disney's classic animated feature, "101 Dalmations" (1961), passed away on January 12 at the age of 84.
Jean-Claude Forest, who created the provocative sci-fi comic strip character Barbarella and designed sets for the '60s movie starring Jane Fonda, passed away December 30, 1998 at the age of 68. Forest created the seductive 41st century adventurer in 1962 originally appearing in V Magazine. The cult favorite Roger Vadim-directed movie released in June 1968, "Barbarella," secured her place in fandom history.
France's Annecy Festival Director Jean-Luc Xiberras died on December 26, 1998 at 57 years old after a long battle with illness. The Mayor of Annecy, the festival President & Board and the festival staff unanimously saluted his courage and determination for continuing to be a force in the festival's operation during his term of illness.
Last Tuesday was a dark day for the comic book world when legendary writer/artist Bob Kane, best known for creating DC Comics Batman, passed away as a result of natural causes at his California home. Kane, 83, created the dark hero along with many other famous supporting characters including Robin, the Boy Wonder, the Joker, Catwoman and the Riddler. His creations have resulted in a continuously published comic book for fifty years, a live-action TV series, four feature films, at least five animated Batman series, and merchandising beyond words.