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A Tribute to Lou Hertz

Animation World Network has collected thoughts from the animation community in a tribute to the life and work of animator/teacher/advertising veteran Lou Hertz, who passed away on July 4, 2005.

Sketch of Lou Hertz. Courtesy of David M. Strandquest.

Animation advertising veteran Lou Hertz died at his home in Atlanta on July 4, 2005, after a brief battle with cancer; he was 73.

Hertz was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and studied at the University of Miami, where he claimed to have majored in sun tanning, according to a family bio. He served two years as a lieutenant in the Air Force where he began his career as an animator by making training films for bomber crews. Hertz was an animator for United Artists in Hollywood before he settled in Atlanta in 1957.

An active member of the Atlanta business and communications community for more than 45 years, he was the president of Louis Hertz Advertising and a local innovator in the combination of animation and live action in local advertising. He pioneered advertising techniques for the first regional shopping malls in Atlanta area and developed media campaigns for several local politicians. Hertz was also the president of the Hertz Communications Group, operating several radio stations throughout the Southeast.

More recently, Hertz was an artist and innovator in pen-and-ink animation for Crawford Communications (which had acquired DESIGNefx), Turner Communications and the Cartoon Network. Since his retirement, Hertz had taught courses in animation at Atlanta College of Art, American Intercontinental University and The Creative Circus.

He had been serving as president of the Atlanta ASIFA chapter and sat on the ASIFA International board of directors.

Hertz was active in community service for the 45+ years that he lived in Atlanta, contributing his leadership and serves as various points to Temple Sinai, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the University of Miami Presidents Council, the Jewish Educational Loan Fund, the Friends of Piedmont Park and the Morningside-Lenox Park Assoc.

Hertz is survived by his wife of 28 years, Judith B. Hertz; his four children: Dr. Paul L. Hertz of Washington, D.C.; Karen Hertz Everett of New York City; Dr. Amy L. Hertz of Memphis; and Dr. Claire Hertz Bernstein of Chicago; as well as his 12 grandchildren; his cat, Inky, and his beloved poodle, Sam. Services were held July 6 at Arlington Cemetery of Sandy Springs. The family requests donations in Hertzs memory be made to the Jewish Educational Loan Fund, 4549 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Chamblee, Georgia 30338.

As a tribute to him we have collected some thoughts of the animation community.

David M. Strandquest

Animator on Adult Swim/Stroker & Hoop


I had the pleasure of calling Lou Hertz one of my best friends. I was working at DESIGNefx in the early 90s as a commercial cel animation director, and we were having a hard time finding new young talent to help with our growing workload. I ran an ad in the AJC for artists interested in animation. After hanging about 50 portfolios on the, wall of shame, the front door opened, and in walked Lou. I believe the 1st thing he said to me was, I just want to draw a picture, boobie! And so, the story starts back up there. He was one of our gang, and we all miss him, but we know his ghost is flying around us in a nightshirt and cap, doing tweens on our drawings while we sleep. He was always there when you needed a friend.

Mark Falls


In the summer of 1993 I started an internship in the cel animation department at Crawford Communications. Id been a freelance illustrator for 15 years and was looking for new veins of inspiration. No sooner had I begun than the guys all started talking about Lou, the new guy who was coming in to manage the department. It was a freewheeling environment drawing tables, books, guitars, drums and every form of interesting junk piled to the rafters of a dark, cavernous warehouse. Assignments were relatively few and a lot of time was spent on serial cartoon panels, mostly inspired by garbled intercom pages.

There was a tremendous amount of talent there, but management was more attuned to post operations than animation. Lou would shift that balance. He had been an Air Force animator during the Korean War, had worked on Magoo back at UPA, and, we would later find out, had continued using and creating animation when he owned an agency during the 60s. After a succession of interesting careers, Lou had hooked up with the department as an inbetweener some months before. Impressed with the talent and feeling it under-utilized, Lou pitched management the idea of coming on as a manager/producer/account exec. They bought in, Lou signed on, and the cel department got itself a one-man promotional engine.

Lou had such success that he eventually hired more talent and a full-time producer. He shrugged off the change as simple management but I dont know anyone else who could have done it. He was one of us. Lou didnt institute structures or initiatives because he understood that was a recipe for rebellion. If anything, the torrent of prank panels and twisted caricatures increased during Lous tenure (many featuring Lou in dozens of madcap aliases and plenty of those drawn in his own hand). As the workload increased Lou would draft whatever manpower was available. He would pull me away from practicing walk cycles, bouncing balls and other studies in inertia and put me to work animating scenes for commercials, calmly critiquing my beginner efforts into material that was ready for air.

He was an incurable jokester, constantly regaling us with tales from his fraternity days at the University of Miami. Later, Lou became a regular at Little Bangkok, on Cheshire Bridge Road. Most Tuesdays you could count on a few new Lou jokes, and his invariable order of chicken curry but with pork. My favorite Lou catchphrase could be heard every spring, when he bemoaned the plight of the Bradfuhd payahs (Bradford pears in his Alabama drawl). I do worry about the Bradfuhd Payahs. Im afraid that once they get blooming the cold will come along and kill them. We suffered no such fate at Crawford, Lou. Thanks to you.

Tony Ross

Atlanta College of Art Faculty

Lou has taught me so much about animation. He also managed to keep me in a good humor If I came in to work with a gripe, he would drawl, Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? Who can complain after that?

Hertz working with a student at Atlanta College of Arts. © 2005 Richards Studio of Photography.

Lakia Ross

Atlanta College of Art Faculty

One of my favorite memories of Lou is at the 2002 ACA Faculty Christmas party. My husband and I were sitting on a sofa chatting, when Lou walked over and boomed, My God, your body language is scandalous! I dont think I can take it! He then proceeded to plop down in-between us to sample our plates of food, and share his. I had known him for all of a week completely incorrigible, that man.

Robert Pope


I worked with Lou Hertz from 1994 to 1996 when I was an animation director at the defunct DESIGNefx wing of Crawford Communications. Lou was instrumental in bringing me on board full-time at D/E, and he was a ball to work with. People in our type of work are seldom acknowledged by the management types; but Lou worked tirelessly to make sure our contributions were duly noted throughout the company. He played to his strengths, leaning hard into his role as the old man of animation, and the experience of his years gave him a credibility that benefited us all. He was a skilled manager, almost always a light touch. Measured doses of silly and serious tailored to the specific moment; Lou was a gasser from beginning to end.

William S. Thompson

Vice President of Post Production and Corporate Administration Crawford Communications, Inc.

I first met Lou when he worked for David Bockel and Co., an Atlanta ad agency. I was immediately impressed with his creative ideas and sense of humor. Years later, he and I would work together at Crawford. Hertz joined Crawford in 1993 as a cel animator in DESIGNefx, Crawfords nationally recognized graphics design and animation house which competed directly with Industrial Light & Magic and other top firms. Hertz later became head of Crawfords cel animation group before leaving Crawford in 1998.

Lou was a very sweet man and a truly good soul. He mentored so many young people. I laugh when I think about him because he always made me smile. I told him once that he looked like Mr. Magoo and he said he used to work on that cartoon series, which I didnt know at the time.

J.J. Sedelmaier

J.J. Sedelmaier Prods.

I first met Lou at Creative Circus, a wonderful art school in Atlanta. He was my official greeter at a screening I was invited to do there. He was so gracious, friendly, and made me feel like wed been friends for years! He later visited our studio in White Plains, New York with one of his daughters that lives nearby. He treated the folks here to stories and anecdotes that had us entertained for the entire time he was here. He was one of those special people that you make a connection with immediately!

We ALL wish wed known him for a longer period of time

Bob Pettitt


I didnt meet Lou until he was well into his 60s, and I was constantly amazed at his passion for the art and business of animation. Wed discuss current trends in animation and advertising, new editing and production software, travel, and anything else that stoked the fires of his curiosity. Of course it was always a treat to hear stories and anecdotes about the good ol days in the industry, but he was as active and vibrant a part of our industry here in Atlanta as the younger generation of artists in their 20s and 30s. His generosity was amazing and many of us, as artists and people, benefited greatly from his skill, experience, toughness, wisdom, humor and encouragement.

To me, this story illustrates Lou perfectly: I once brought a couple of friends to a screening of animated shorts, sponsored by ASIFA. Lou was running the check-in table. I was between assignments and had managed to scrounge up the $7 admission fee, in quarters. As I emptied my pockets of the change, he smiled warmly, held out his hands for it, and said, as much for my friends as me, This is a tough business, but youre gonna make it big.

Well miss you Lou.

Kevin Cooper

I am writing to send a few kind words in the memory of Lou Hertz. I am proud to say that I was a student of his. He introduced me to the world of animation. Words cant express the value of what I learned from him. I am a better person now and it pleases me to know that he was a crucial part of my life.

Deanna Morse

ASIFA/Central, the midwest USA chapter Animator and Professor at Grand Valley State University, Michigan

It was a treat to serve on the ASIFA International Board with Lou Hertz this past couple of years. He had a quick laugh and an easy smile. His southern drawl was like a drop of honey on his sensible and useful comments. We will miss him.

Caricature of Lou by Ward Jenkins. Courtesy of Ward Jenkins.

John Ryan

Animator DAGNABIT!

To Lou,

Your wisdom is not lost on me. I know what you were up to, my friend. You recreated yourself as a cartoon character, because we all know toons dont die (except in Bakshi movies). You will be with us forever. Everyone I spoke to this morning had a funny or touching Lou story to tell. We thank you for that, boobie!

I know... I coulda been a dentist!

A letter I wrote to my son, Lucas (23 and a recent graduate of Savannah College of Art & Designs animation program)

Luke I know you were a little reluctant to come along with us yesterday to Lou Hertz memorial service. You had met him on a few occasions and heard his name mentioned, but you didnt really know the guy. Im glad you decided to go. You know we always take you to the most interesting places. When I asked you to attend, I realized this was something you had not experienced before the whole funeral thing. Fact is, no two are alike, but the best ones seem to be more a celebration of the persons life than a tearful, wailing, breast-beating sorrowfest.

It is often amusing to see the designated holy person try to put the loved ones life in perspective. In this case the closest thing the rabbi could find to an animator in Biblical times was a self-possessed circle maker trying to make it rain. Talk about doing something so well that they have to make a job for you. Maybe thats what the lesson was all about in that cryptic parable. I certainly dont mean to belittle the rabbis attempt, as we know, precious few have a handle on just what we do for a living. More to the point were the family words of the daughter and #1 granddaughter. Especially quoting his wife Judy, He had a blast!

We should all aspire to that epitaph. I think you got a sense of the size of the Atlanta animation community by the turnout surrounding the family tent. I know you recognized a lot of familiar faces. Clearly, many people cared about this man. Im sure his family was comforted to know he had touched so many lives. I reflected on the notion that a lot of these folks are connected to or actively engaged in the artform known as the illusion of life. But the man they came to honor showed them by his example that one could also truly live his life, fully and with gusto.

I think that about sums it up. Thanks for coming along. DAD

Jai Husband

Animation Director Turner Studios

Ten years ago this year I met Lou Hertz. I had just returned to Atlanta for my final year at Morehouse, having just finished a year off working at Walt Disney Feature Animation. I was returning to Atlanta reluctantly because I wanted to stay and continue working at Disney, but my mother gave me the greatest guilt trip in the history of mankind about wasting the money my folks had spent on the first three years and not finishing.

So, I came back to finish school, but wanted to find some place in Atlanta where I could continue to work in animation and get experience, which I doubted was possible. An Internet search found a listing for DESIGNefx Studios in Atlanta and I called them up and got put through to a guy named Lou Hertz. He informed me that they didnt have an official internship program at Crawford Communications (DESIGNefxs parent company), and he couldnt pay me, but for school credit I could come in and hed mentor me and see if there was any work they could throw my way.

So, going to school full time and working a graveyard shift at the Quicktrip on Syndey Marcus Blvd. allowed me to come into DESIGNefx three or four days a week for six to eight hours. In no time I was doing actual production work, and thats how I met a group of guys who were a part of what I call Atlantas Nine Old Men. Lou Hertz, David Strandquest, Clay Croaker, Robert Pope, John Ryan, Joe Peery and Mike Schultze. I know thats not nine, but most of them werent old either, so who cares. I found in this group a crazy crew of amazing and seasoned animators in Dixie of all places. I didnt know animation existed south of the Mason-Dixon, and I was thrilled to be working in the industry so far from home in Southern California.

Within a couple of months I was hired right out of school by Turner Interactive to be the head animator for their new Interactive Gaming division, but I was permanently adopted by Lou, and a staple part of this crusty legion of animators. The Atlanta Animation industry is quite small, so though our little family was dispersed and reassembled by layoffs and studio changes over the next couple of years, one was never far from the sage guidance and slapstick revelry of Uncle Looey!

I even had to privilege of co-teaching with Lou. We taught storyboarding at the Art Institute of Atlanta and together we pioneered the inauguration of teaching traditional animation at The Atlanta College of Art, until an opportunity to do feature work in New Zealand took me away from Atlanta for a little while. And upon my return, I found myself working with Uncle Looey again at Turner. We all thought that Lou was the incarnation of Mr. Magoo, and the stories that he would tell made him both a hero and an animation urban legend, like how he fared unscathed through the Animation Depression of the Sixties and he was the only animator working in his craft!

Lou Hertz was a great animator, a passionate teacher, a joyous soul and a dutiful mentor. It might seem funny to say that, because my father is a 30-year animation veteran of Disney, but when I would list a mentor in the bizness, Id have to say it was Lou. My dad taught me a great deal about being an artist and an animator, and got me breaks in the industry and certainly I dont know if Id be a pegger today if it werent for him, but Lou is my daddy in the bizness, and I already miss him. He not only touched the world and the animation industry, he touched my life in ways that are eternal. I dont think anyone can ask for a better legacy than to leave their mark not on just the world but in the heart of people who will forever be changed for the better. To Uncle Looey!

John Ryan's painting of Joe Perrys eggplant construction of Lou Hertz. Perry took an eggplant and dressed it up with veggie-mop hair and mini wire-rimmed glasses he twisted into shape. Courtesy of John Ryan.

Sarah Fay Krom

Director Ideaforia Pty. Ltd.

I met Lou while serving as president of ASIFA-Atlanta in 2002 and 2003. Lou acted as the second-in-command. He was part of the Atlanta animation community from the very beginning; everyone knew who he was and he had a lot of great stories to tell. There were many times when the two of us would get together to go over ASIFA details and just chat, about animation, about dogs, about families, about life. These are the times when you want to remember all the details of the conversation, but cant. He joked mercilessly, never once showed up without a twinkle in his eye, and made me laugh plenty; so maybe the words are fading but the feeling persists.

I cant begin to describe the joy he found in being a part of the international animation world. His enthusiasm for the art of animation was contagious and his appreciation for those who can pull it off boundless. He was always saying how incredible it was to see what the young animators were doing these days, humbly claiming to be an old fart past his prime and not up to the new gadgetry. But he knew the essence of the art was far beyond any new-fangled toys or tools, and he constantly shared his sincere and heartfelt wonderment at its magic.

He was lovingly persistent with his students and the local animation community. His membership drives consisted of pounding on doors and rounding up the usual suspects, preferring to see people in the flesh. After I moved to Singapore at the end of 2003, Lou took over as president of the Atlanta chapter. He was proud to be an active part of the International ASIFA board, claiming his presence as the loud mouth representative from Atlanta.

This energetic spirit, full of spit and gumption, has made a lasting impression. You know I think youre the greatest, Looey.

Ward Jenkins

Animation Director Primal Screen

Lou Hertz had a great sense of humor, always the butt of his own jokes. He loved animation all forms of it even after being in it for so many years. It was as if he was always fascinated by the business, always in a state of wonder by it all. Eager to please, and never one to complain about the smallest of concerns, Lou was a great father-figure to many in this town, including me. With his aforementioned jovial voice, and his down-home sense of humor, Lou made you feel like you were family.

Whether it was some odd story about growing up in Alabama, outhouse ethics, working at UPA, washing cels you just knew that you were in for an interesting conversation with Lou. I loved the way he addressed you as a friend, with his signature, boobie.

No problem, boobie!

Lou gave me my very first job as an animator. I am forever indebted to him.

Lou, you will be sorely missed. Thanks for everything.

Jim Threlkeld

Producer Primal Screen

Lou headed up ASIFA Atlanta for the last few years of his life and, as one of the producers at Primal Screen, I would have reason to deal with him on a pretty regular basis. Every year he came by to get the company reel for the Roll yer own show of local animation. We usually ran late with our contribution, and Lou always made exceptions to the deadline so that we were able to get in the show. Lou would also call me when he had a good student in one of his animation classes at ACA to give me a heads up on a potential intern. Several of those star students have entered the field here in Atlanta, and one of our former Lou interns is now a producer here. In general Lou was always ready and willing to help out with anything that would further the cause of animation. He was both a great practitioner and patron of the art.

Karl Cohen

President ASIFA-San Francisco

Although I never met Lou in person I knew him by way of e-mails as a hard working executive of ASIFA (both the Atlanta chapter and as an international board member). What I recall most about our exchanges is his willingness to help others. When one of my graduating students left San Francisco for Atlanta he helped to introduce him to the animation community and told him whom he should contact in his search for work. When ASIFA decided to publish a new magazine it was Lou who volunteered to collect articles from U.S. writers. When I needed to consult with other chapter presidents in the U.S. for advice, it was Lou who often had the most sound and sensible advise. Lou was a great friend of animation and Ill miss him.