The Animation Guild Blog reports that veteran animator, director and teacher Jim Hiltz has passed away at the age of 85. Best known for directing Jay Ward’s Rocky and His Friends, The Bullwinkle Show, Super Chicken and George of the Jungle TV series and the 1980 Oscar-nominated short History of the World in Three Minutes Flat, Hiltz had a long career working at production studios such at TerryToons, FilmFair, Bill Melendez Studios and Michael Mills Studios.
He directed the 1965 TV series The Beatles and worked as an animator on the 1968 feature Yellow Submarine. His animation credits also include the TV movies The Raccoons on Ice (1981), The Racoons and the Lost Star (1983) The Care Bears in the Land Without Feelings (1983) and The Care Bears Battle the Freeze Machine (1984), and the series The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin (1987), The Raccoons (1985-1987), The Smoggies (1989) and The Little Flying Bears (1990). During the 1990s, he worked on The Legend of White Fang, Spirou, David Copperfield, The Busy World of Richard Scarry and The Country Mouse and the City Mouse Adventures.
Emmy-winning director Eddy Houchins who worked with Hiltz in the beginning of his career recalls, “As a young animator, I got my first ‘real’ job at Michael Mills’ place in 1980 and immediately met Jim who took me and all the other young animators under his wing. In those days, we had not just respect, but downright AWE for the older guys who had ‘been there.’ We hung on his every word and studied his pencil tests frame by frame, soaking up his drawing skills and timing finesse. At night, after he’d go home, we’d slip into his office and sit and flip his drawings on a light table just to study ‘the real thing.’ I learned more about animation from my three years working under Jim as my director than I ever learned in school or on any other job.”
“After his stint at Mills, he freelanced and taught at Concordia University for awhile, and, I suppose, eventually retired.” Houchins adds. “I remember I was at the Ottawa [International Animation] Festival with him in 1983, and June Foray and Bill Scott were there and performed a Rocky and Bullwinkle script live to our delight. Afterwards, I was standing with Jim in the lobby and when June walked out, he said to me, ‘Hang on, I have to say hello to an old friend.’ He walked up to June, said, ‘Remember me?’ and she screamed, ‘JIM!!!’ and practically jumped into his arms. Maybe you guys can break the news to her. I sure can’t.”