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Academy Award-Winning Animator Børge Ring Dies at 97

Noted Danish musician and artist was best known for his animated shorts including ‘Anna & Bella,’ which took Oscar gold in 1985.

Danish animator and musician Børge Ring.

Director, animator, cartoonist and jazz musician Børge Ring, whose animated short film Anna & Bella won an Oscar in 1985, passed away yesterday at age 97.

The Danish artist was best known for directing three award-winning animated short films - Oh My Darling (1978), Anna & Bella (1984) and Run of the Mill (1999) - though his credited television and film animation work dates back to the late 1940s and includes It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), Heavy Metal (1981), Curse of the Pink Panther (1983) and We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (1993).

Oh My Darling, about a couple expecting the birth of their daughter, won Best Short Film at the Cannes Festival in 1978 and was nominated for an Oscar in 1979. Anna & Bella, an emotionally compelling film that tells the story of two sisters looking back on their lives, won the Oscar for Best Animated Short in 1985.

Run of the Mill, which won the Unicef Children’s Award in 2000, looks at the effects of drug addiction on a typical nuclear family, warning about the ease in which children can fall victim. In AWN’s review of the film, Jon Hofferman wrote, “Ring uses a pallette of greens, browns and yellows and simple line drawings to tell his story of unrealized potential and frustrated love. In his film notes, Ring, who also composed the music, refers to an autobiographical element, and it's possible that both the film's power and its weaknesses derive from his own experiences as a parent and his closeness to the subject.”

According to Jerry Beck’s Animation Scoop post, Ring started his animation career in Copenhagen in the 1930s while also working as a jazz musician, eventually settling at Marten Toonder Studios for over 20 years before leaving in 1973. For the next 30 years, Ring worked as both an animator and cartoonist, working on dozens of TV and film projects as well as comics, including illustrating Disney’s Chip ‘n’ Dale for the Dutch Donald Duck Weekly.

In 2012, the Danish Animation Society, which hosts the annual Danish Animation Awards in conjunction with the Odense International Film Festival, renamed their main award “The Borge Ring Award,” to include both a cash prize and statuette, inspired by characters from Anna & Bella. That same year, ASIFA Hollywood honored Ring with the Winsor McCay Lifetime Achievement Awards, which, according to his daughter Anne, had him “dancing on the table of joy” after receiving the news.

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.