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Pixar’s Nemo Character Designer Dan Lee Dead at 35

Dan Lee, who helped create such characters as TOY STORY 2s Jessie, MONSTERS, INC.s Boo, and FINDING NEMOs namesake, Nemo, passed away on Jan. 15, 2005, at the age of 35 of advanced metastatic lung cancer.

Lee came to Pixar in Emeryville, California, as a sketch artist, character designer and animator to work on A BUGS LIFE and TOY STORY 2 in June 1996. He later designed characters for FINDING NEMO and MONSTERS, INC. and was working on one of Pixars upcoming future projects at the time of his death.

Dan was a longtime member of our Pixar family, director Andrew Stanton said. He single-handedly designed Nemo and has been a major influence at Pixar. Dan was a wonderful, irreplaceable, talented human being, and we miss him terribly.

Lees other notable Pixar character designs include Marlin, Bloat, Nemos friends and the barracuda in FINDING NEMO; Waternoose in MONSTERS, INC.; and Princess Atta, Dot, Hopper and Tuck & Roll in A BUGS LIFE.

Previously, Lee was an animator, character designer, illustrator and layout artist on feature films and commercials at various studios, including Kennedy Cartoons in Toronto and Colossal Pictures in San Francisco. Lee was a graduate of the Classical Animation Program at Sheridan College in Toronto, where he graduated top of his class.

Pixar colleagues of Lee described his work as uniquely Dan for being able to capture the sweetness of a character without a hint of clichéd cuteness. He was particularly known for designing charming and appealing female and child characters.

Dan was always taking in everything around him, and it would show up later in his drawings in some form or another, director Pete Docter said. He would do these incredible sketches of people from life really well observed, great drawings. Dan was a rare talent one of our top character designers here at Pixar and we'll miss him.

Lee was a nonsmoker and led a healthy and active lifestyle in Oakland, California, so his cancer diagnosis in August 2003 came as a shock to his family and those who knew him well. Lee is survived by his father Hung Yau Lee, mother Kam Sau Lee, and three sisters, Sunny Lee-Fay, Mei Okumura and Brenda Lee Truong.