The Animation Educators Forum (AEF), a nonprofit association of teachers and scholars whose focus is the art of animated film, has announced the selection of its 2023 Hall of Fame recipients. This virtual hall is dedicated to the artists and scholars whose teaching influenced the history of animation.
The Animation Educators Hall of Fame, Class of 2023:
Joy Batchelor (1914-1991) Director/Producer/Designer — Joy started in animation in 1934 and met John Halas three years later when he hired her at British Colour Cartoon Films. In 1940, they married and formed Halas and Batchelor Cartoon Films, one of Britain’s most storied studios. The two co-directed its most famous film, Animal Farm (1954), which she is also credited as scriptwriter, producer and designer. Her other credits include directing a TV version of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore (1967). After retiring from filmmaking in 1974, she focused on teaching animation at the London Film School, whose students elected her to its Board of Governors, where she served until her death.
Cornelius “Corny” Cole (1930-2011) Animator/Designer — Corny began on Disney’s Lady and the Tramp and animated on Ward Kimball’s Disneyland TV unit, later for UPA on Gay Puree (1962) and Richard Williams’ The Adventures of Raggedy Ann and
Andy (1977) He taught animation as art and figure drawing at the California Institute of the Arts from 1992 until his retirement. He also trained students in figure drawing at Art Center College of Design and the University of Southern California.
John Culhane (1934-2015) Journalist/Historian — Former media arts editor at Newsweek, John wrote extensively about Disney animation, including books on the making of Fantasia, Aladdin and Fantasia 2000, as well as Special Effects in the Movies. He was the model for the characters Mr. Snoops in The Rescuers and Flying John in Fantasia 2000.
Bessie Mae Kelley Animator/Director — Bess started in animation in 1917, working at the major New York studios (Bray, Inkwell, Fables, etc.) and multiple regional studios. She was the first industry professional to bring the field of animation to the masses via the Chautauqua lecture and Lyceum vaudeville circuits. For several years, Bess traveled across the country with her easel and charcoals to demonstrate and educate the public on “How Animated Cartoons Are Made.”
Bill Matthews (1932-2022) Animator — Bill worked at Disney on Sleeping Beauty (1959) and on The Mickey Mouse Club. He also worked for the Jet Propulsion Lab creating instructional films. He taught animation at Sheridan College, California State University Northridge, Van Film Arts and Woodbury University. During the 1980s and ’90s he ran Disney Feature Animation’s recruiting and training division.
Dan McLaughlin (1932-2016) Animator/Director/Educator/Scholar — Dan began in experimental animation with such films as God Is Dog Spelled Backward (1967),
animated for Sesame Street and the titles to Where’s Poppa? (1970). In 1970, he became head of the University of California, Los Angeles Animation Workshop until his retirement in 2011. In 1971, Dan established the school’s M.F.A. Animation Program and pioneered the introduction of computer and interactive animation courses. His international travels included designing a national animation studio for the Nigerian government. In 1995 Dan was given ASIFA-Hollywood’s Winsor McCay Award.
Bill Moritz (1941-2004) Animation Historian/Filmmaker/Writer/Educator — Bill was best known for his writings on visual music and experimental animation, especially on Oskar Fischinger, including the book Optical Poetry: The Life and Work of Oskar Fischinger (2004). He was also a poet and playwright, as well as an experimental filmmaker. He began teaching in 1965 at Occidental College and then at Otis Art Institute, Pitzer College, UCLA, USC and the American University Center in Calcutta, India, before settling in at CalArts in 1987. He also was president of the Society for Animation Studies.
Ben Washam (1915-1984) Animator — Ben was a main animator for Chuck Jones since 1938 at both Warner Bros. and MGM. He also worked at UPA and Hanna-Barbera. Ben taught informal instructions at no charge out of his home garage from 1967-1980, where he taught many top artists of the Animation Renaissance of the 1990s.
John Whitney Sr. (1917-1995) Animator/Filmmaker/Inventor/Composer — Often hailed as the father of computer animation, John and his brother James pioneered non-narrative filmmaking in the 1930s using mechanical techniques. This culminated in his building an analog computer to create the title sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). He later became IBM’s first computer artist in residence, taught the first computer graphics class at UCLA in 1972, and lectured around the world about the coming digital age with a missionary zeal. Many of his trainees and interns went on to become important figures in CGI, including Bob Abel.
Richard Williams (1933-2019) Animator/Director. Williams has been called the greatest student of the character animators of Hollywood’s Golden Age, whose credits include Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and the unfinished The Thief and the Cobbler (1993). The Canadian born artist initially rose very quickly to the top of the ’60s London commercial world. He used this success to bring in legendary Hollywood animators — Art Babbitt, Grim Natwick and Ken Harris — to teach his artists the almost forgotten techniques of classical animation. The fruits of his efforts created the blossoming of animation scene in England, which helped spark the Hollywood Renaissance of the 1990s. He wrote best-selling books on technique and gave master classes around the world until his death.
The AEF announces a new group of Hall of Fame recipients each January. To propose a candidate, visit animationeducatorsforum.org and send your suggestions to Tom Sito, administrator.