PITTSBURGH -- Notable animator Leland “Lee” Hartman died on Christmas Eve, at age 82, according to a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, following a diagnosis of dementia over six years ago. He had been a resident of Pittsburgh’s Kane Regional Glen Hazel Center since earlier this year.
Hartman was a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. His long career as an animator included a stint at the Walt Disney Company, from 1955 to 1960, where he worked on the The Mickey Mouse Club television series, Les Clark’s 1958 short film, Paul Bunyan, and the 1959 animated feature, Sleeping Beauty.
Hartman also worked as a Tiny Toons animator for Warner Bros. in the 1990s, and garnered a bit of acting fame in 1968, when he played the part of a reporter-turned-ghoul in the horror film Night of the Living Dead. Hartman also took up writing in his 60s and self-published a collection of short horror stories called "The Darkendown Tales" in 1997.
Part of Hartman’s art collection has been donated to the Heinz History Center, with the bulk of it to be housed at the Pittsburgh ToonSeum. The Hartman family is working with museum officials to plan a public memorial and display of his artwork at a later date. To help preserve his legacy, donations can be sent to the Toonseum/Heinz History Center (www.toonseum.org).