As his animated alter ego gets set to make his big-screen debut, SpongeBob SquarePants voicer Tom Kenny is gearing up to host the 32nd Annual Annie Awards honoring the year’s finest animation in film, television and short subjects. This year’s awards ceremony, to be held on Jan. 30, 2005, at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, Calif., will see the prestigious Windsor McCay award go to Don Bluth, Virginia Davis and Arnold Stang.
Bluth began at Disney as an animator on such films as Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, before directing animation on The Rescuers and Pete’s Dragon. In 1982, he and fellow animators Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy produced Banjo The Woodpile Cat, a garage project that launched his career as an independent. In addition to creating the laser disc-based arcade games Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, he directed and produced such animated features as MGM’s The Secret of NIMH, Universal’s An American Tail and The Land Before Time, United Artists’ All Dogs Go to Heaven and Warner Bros’ Thumbelina and A Troll in Central Park. Returning to the studio system in the late ’90s, Bluth directed and produced Anastasia and Titan A.E. for 20th Century Fox. He and long-time collaborator Gary Goldman recently established Bluth Films Inc. in Phoenix, Arizona, and are developing a feature version of Dragon’s Lair.
At the Age of four, Virginia Davis became Disney’s first live-action when she appeared in a series of shorts that had her interacting with animated characters in a cartoon world. Starting in 1924, Davis starred in more than 50 Alice in Cartoonland adventures, and was named a Disney Legend in 1998. She now holds the distinction of being Disney’s oldest surviving employee.
Arnold Stang is one of America’s most beloved comic character and voice actors. A fixture of comic TV series of the ’50s and ’60s, he voiced the animated character Top Cat and served as Milton Berle’s sidekick. Throughout the ’50 he voiced the Herman character in more than two dozen Herman and Katnip animated shorts for Paramount and later lent his golden throat to The Pink Panther Show, Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure and Pogo for President: I Go Pogo. More recently, Stang played roles on Cartoon Network’s Courage, the Cowardly Dog.
The Annie Awards honor overall excellence as well as individual achievement in a total of 21 categories in areas ranging from production design, character animation and effects animation to storyboarding, writing, music and voice acting. Tickets are $60 and are available online at ASIFA-Hollywood.org or by calling 818.842.8330 by Dec. 16.