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Terrytoons and Hanna-Barbera Animator Doug Crane Dies at 85

The veteran cartoonist, animator, and teacher’s career spanned 65 years and included stops at a number of well-known studios as well as New York’s School of Visual Arts.

Veteran animator and cartoonist Doug Crane, whose skilled hand helped bring countless Terrytoons, Hanna-Barbera, and MTV shows to the screen, passed away this past Thursday, December 17, after a short battle with cancer, according to a Facebook post by his daughter, Rose-Ellen. He was 85. A private service is being held in Stuart, Florida for immediate family members; a memorial event in New Rochelle, New York, will be held later this year once the pandemic is under control.

Crane worked for a variety of animation studios during a 65-year career, including Terrytoons, Hanna-Barbera, MTV, Filmation, Oriolo Films, and Zander Animation Parlour, before becoming a noted Professor of Animation at SVA.

Born in Bronxville, New York, Crane attended Eastchester High School before graduating from the Cartoonist and Illustrators School, now known as The School of Visual Arts, in New York City. He started at Terrytoons in 1956; his first day on the job, he met his future wife Maureen Hurley, with whom he eventually had eight children.

Putting his career on hold in 1958 to join the Army, Crane, married Hurley and together, they had their first child; during his armed forces stint, he illustrated recruitment pamphlets, created and painted floats for the base parades, painted signage for the White Sands Proving Grounds, and created a comic strip called “Tiptoe and Timber” that ran in military Newspapers.

Upon his release, he and his family returned to New Rochelle, NY, where he rejoined Terrytoons. During his time at the studio, he worked with industry greats including Burne Hogarth, Preston Blair, Art Babbitt, Jimmy (Shamus) Culhane, Bill Hanna, Joe Oriolo, Bill Tytla, John Hubley, Grim Natwick, Jack Zander, Al Capp, Bob Blechman, Gene Deitch, Ernie Pintoff, Richard Williams, and a host of others.

Along with Reg Auguston, at the urging of Bill Hanna, Crane setup and ran the Hanna-Barbera East studio in New York City. He went on to animate films, television series, commercials, theatrical releases, and half hour specials; draw comic strips, comic books and digests. His work won him a Clio Award for his animation of a Wall Street Journal commercial. While well-known for his storyboard work, character creation and design, background design and finished layouts, he noted in video interviews that some of his favorite work was animating the bobbing, rolling, and twisting ship scene in the Raggedy Ann & Andy movie.

Crane designed and taught a comprehensive Cartooning and Animation techniques course at his alma mater, Eastchester High School, and was a Professor of Classical Animation at his other alma mater, The School of Visual Arts in New York City, for 15 years. Crane was also invited to teach at the Institute of Animation and Film at the Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

While maintaining a full schedule of lectures and demonstrations on the art of animation at schools, libraries, fraternal organizations, and various business functions, Crane served as the Artist In Residence at the prestigious Thornton-Donovan school in New Rochelle. He also served the Westchester County residents as an Auxiliary Police officer, a Grand Knight at the New Rochelle Knights of Columbus, and as the Municipal Arts Commissioner, where he planned and carried out the weekend-long 40th Anniversary Terrytoons celebration in February 1982.

As noted by his daughter, Crane was most proud of his family. His children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were the light of his life. He loved all the activity that was always happening in a household with a family of 10.

He is survived by his children Maureen, Erin (her husband Mark and their daughters Megan, Katie, Kerry, and their families), Thomas (his wife Debbie and their children Sean, Brianna, and their families), Colleen (her husband Art and their children AJ, Aidan, Tiernan, and Riley), Caitlin (her husband Shawn), Kevin (his wife Erin and their children Abigail and Nathaniel) and Rose-Ellen (her husband Andrew and their daughters Sam, Shannon, Jordan, and Hayley).

Crane was predeceased by two days, by Maureen, his beloved wife of 61 years, and by son Douglas Jr. in 2018.

Dan Sarto's picture

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