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In Memoriam: Remembering the Animation & VFX Greats We Lost in 2020

In Memoriam: Remembering the Animation & VFX Greats We Lost in 2020
In Memoriam: Remembering the Animation & VFX Greats We Lost in 2020

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In Memoriam: Remembering the Animation & VFX Greats We Lost in 2020

We had to bid farewell to an awfully large number of talented men and women who worked in the animation and visual effects business in 2020. We honor their memory on these pages and share our gratitude for the many artistic contributions they made to our world. A big thanks to animation veteran, author and educator Tom Sito, who is producing a virtual Afternoon of Remembrance on Saturday, January 30 at noon (PST) to honor these animation luminaries.

Patricia Alice Albrecht. American actress, writer and poet, best known for her role as Phyllis “Pizzazz” Gabor in the series Jem, as well as her roles in The New Yogi Bear Show, The Snorks and New Kids on the Block. Died Dec. 25, 2019, age 66.

Michael Angelis. British actor known for narrating the Thomas & Friends series, from 1991 to 2012. Died May 30, age 76.

Michael Angelis

Michael Angelis

Román Arámbula. Mexican artist who drew the Mickey Mouse comic strip. Died March 19, age 83.

Kelly Asbury. Prolific animator and director of five features — Shrek 2 (co-directed with Conrad Vernon), Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Gnomeo and Juliet, Smurfs: The Lost Village and UglyDolls. He also worked on The Little Mermaid, The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, The Prince of Egypt, Chicken Run, Shrek, Wreck-It-Ralph, Frozen, Sherlock Gnomes, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Died June 26, age 60.

Kelly Asbury

Kelly Asbury

Julie Bennett. Actress who voiced Cindy Bear on The Yogi Bear Show and several Yogi Bear movies. Also recorded voices for UPA, Warner Bros, MGM, Format Films and Hanna-Barbera. Died March 31, age 88.

Julie Bennett

Julie Bennett

Dorris Bergstrom. Assistant animator at Filmation, Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros. and Disney. Died Oct. 24, age 97.

Chadwick Boseman. Hugely popular actor best known for playing Black Panther in four MCU films. He also portrayed Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get on Up and Justice Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. His final film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was released in December. Died Aug. 20, age 44.

Kobe Bryant. Beloved sports icon, 18-time NBA All Star who helped the L.A. Lakers to five championship wins. Writer, producer and star of the Oscar-winning animated short Dear Basketball, directed by Glen Keane. Died Jan. 26, age 41.

Dear Basketball

Dear Basketball

Alfred Budnick. Background artist who worked on shows such as Scooby’s Laff-A-Lympics, Ghostbusters, She-Ra: Princess of Power, BraveStarr, The Critic, Garfield and Friends, Oh Yeah! Cartoons, Family Dog and Hey Arnold! Died Feb. 29, age 81.

Marge Champion. Actress and dancer who served as the model for Disney’s Snow White, the Blue Fairy (Pinocchio) and Hyacinth Hippo (Fantasia). Died Oct. 21, age 101.

Marge Champion

Marge Champion

Curtis Cim. Character designer and story artist on shows such as Godzilla, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, Super Friends, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Ghostbusters, She-Ra, Dragon Tales, Courage the Cowardly Dog, The Wild Thornberrys, Static Shock, Ozzy & Drix, King of the Hill and Curious George. Died March 10, age 65.

Ron Cobb. American-Australian cartoonist, artist and film designer, who worked on numerous major films including Dark Star, Star Wars, Alien, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Conan the Barbarian, Back to the Future and Total Recall. Died Sept. 21, age 83.

Doug Crane. Veteran New York-based animator who worked at Terrytoons, Hanna-Barbera, MTV, Filmation and Oriolo Films, among others, and was a professor of animation at School of Visual Arts. Among his many credits are Spider-Man, Godzilla, Beavis and Butt-Head, Raggedy Ann & Andy, Heavy Metal, Super Friends, The Smurfs, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra, BraveStarr, Downtown and feature documentary Chicago 10. Died Dec. 17, age 85.

Doug Crane

Doug Crane

Bill Davis. Animator, illustrator and pottery artist, co-founder and president of The Davis Artworks and Artbear Pigmation. Created animation for Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, Free to Be You and Me, Raggedy Anne and Andy, Winky Love and more. Author of Creating 2D Animation in a Small Studio with his wife, Colleen. Died Jan. 13, age 66.

Jason Davis. Actor best known for voicing Mikey Blumberg on Disney’s Recess. Died Feb. 16, age 35.

Gene Deitch. American-born Czech illustrator, animator, comics artist and film director best known for creating toons such as Munro, Tom Terrific and Nudnik, his work on Popeye and Tom and Jerry shorts and directing the Oscar-nominated short Sidney’s Family Tree. Winner of the Annie Awards’ Winsor McCay Award. Died April 16, age 95.

Gene Deitch

Gene Deitch

William Dufris. Voice actor whose animation credits include Appleseed, Bob the Builder (U.S. dub), Lupin the 3rd, Patlabor: The Movie and Patlabor 2. Died March 24, age 62.

William Dufris

William Dufris

Tony Eastman. Emmy-nominated animator, storyboard artist and director. He was an animator on the feature A Soldier’s Tale, directed the pilot for Nickelodeon’s Doug, and worked on shows such as Codename: Kids Next Door, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Daria, Beavis and Butt-head, Sheep in the Big City, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law and Kablam! He also directed numerous commercials at The Ink Tank and J.J. Sedelmaier Productions. Died Nov. 2, age 77.

Tony Eastman

Tony Eastman

Rob Gibbs. Story artist for Pixar, who worked on features such as Toy Story 2, Monster, Inc., Finding Nemo, WALL·E, Up, Brave, Incredibles 2 and Onward. He directed two episodes of Cars Toons: Mater’s Tall Tales and was one of the writers of Air Mater. He was the father of Mary Gibbs, who voices Boo in Monsters, Inc. Died April 24, age 55.

Rob Gibbs

Rob Gibbs

Juan Giménez López. Argentine comic-book artist and writer of Metal Hurlant, L’Eternauta magazines, Time Paradox and the comic series Metabarons. Died April 2, age 76.

Mark Glamack. Emmy-nominated animator, writer, director and producer who worked on shows such as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra: Princess of Power, G.I. Joe, Godzilla, Spiderwoman, A Flintstone Christmas, Life with Louie, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Scooby’s Laff-A-Lympics, Yogi’s Space Race and The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour. Died May 29, age 73.

Mark Glamack

Mark Glamack

Danny Goldman. Character actor and casting director best known for providing the voice of Brainy Smurf (The Smurfs, Robot Chicken). Died April 12, age 80.

David Hemblen. British actor known to longtime Marvel fans as the voice of Magneto on X-Men: The Animated Series. Died Nov. 16, age 79.

Ed Henderson. Artist and animator who worked on The Fox and the Crow series, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and the animations for Houston’s Astrodome scoreboard, and designed maps and replicas of the Astroworld theme park. Died Jan. 25, age 95.

Harry “Bud” Hester. Animator/assistant animator for Disney, Bob Clampett Studios and Hanna-Barbera; Business Agent of  The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839. Died Feb. 3, age 92.

Sir Ian Holm. Award-winning British actor best known for his roles in Alien (Sam), The Hobbit (Bilbo Baggins) and The Fifth Element (Father Cornelius) as well as Time Bandits, Brazil and Chariots of Fire. He voiced Chef Skinner in Ratatouille. Died June 19, age 88.

Cullen Blaine Houghtaling. Supervising director for such hits as Ace Ventura, Spider-Man and the Pink Panther show, animation director successes include The Simpsons, 101 Dalmatians: The Series and Timon & Pumbaa. He won two Emmys for his work with Tiny Toon Adventures for Warner Bros. Died Dec. 2, age 85.

Blair Kitchen. Canadian storyboard artist, animator and designer who worked on the movies The Book of Life and Ferdinand, and many series including Tales of Arcadia, Looney Tunes Cartoons, Wayside, Busytown Mysteries, Johnny Test, Scaredy Squirrel, Welcome to the Wayne, Spliced, The Ripping Friends and Hoze Houndz. Died Jan. 5, age 43.

Blair Kitchen

Blair Kitchen

Bill Knoll. Assistant animator, timing director and animation director at Hanna-Barbera, Marvel, Disney TV, Warner Bros. and other studios on shows such as G.I. Joe, The Transformers, The Real Ghostbusters and Animaniacs. Died July 22.

Helen Komar. New York-based illustrator, cartoonist and animator who worked on Popeye the Sailor Man, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Spider-Man and The Incredible Mr. Limpet, Fritz the Cat, Raggedy Ann & Andy, The Soldier’s Tale and Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters. Died Nov. 27, age 93.

Hana Kukal. Czech-born Canadian animation director, animator, character designer and storyboard artist who worked on series such as The Raccoons, Rupert, Max and Ruby, Katie & Orbie, PAW Patrol, Pound Puppies, Dirtgirlworld and the features FernGully: The Last Rainforest and Eight Crazy Nights. Died Nov. 5, age 59.

David Lander. Actor, best known for playing Squiggy on Laverne and Shirley, who also voiced numerous animated characters including Henry the Penguin on Oswald. Other credits include Batman: The Animated Series, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, Johnny Bravo, 101 Dalmatians: The Series and The Garfield Show. Died Dec. 4, age 73.

Nancy Lane. Ink and paint artist and animation checker who worked on Raggedy Ann & Andy, Doug, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America and 101 Dalmatians: The Series. Died Nov. 20, age 80.

Rodolfo Marcenaro. Pioneer in animated advertising cartoons born in Genova, Italy. He worked in publishing and television (Studio K, Tipofilm, TVS) and set up a company specialized in electronic art with his sons in the 1980s. Made a comics version of the Communist Manifesto for Edizioni Ottaviano in Milan in 1976 and was a cartoonist for numerous dailies and magazines. Died Nov. 9, age 83.

Syd Mead. Widely celebrated and influential industrial designer and neo-future concept artist, known for his designs for sci-fi classics such as Blade Runner, Aliens, TRON, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Blade Runner 2049, Tomorrowland, Elysium and Turn A Gundam. Died Dec. 30, 2019, age 86.

Syd Mead

Syd Mead

Lee Mendelson. Iconic animator, voice actor and director who began his career working on Disney’s Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi, and went on to produce A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and numerous other Peanuts TV specials and series. He directed A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Come Home, Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown and Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown and provided the voices for Snoopy and Woodstock. He also produced Cathy, Garfield and Friends and Mother Goose & Grimm. Died Dec. 25, 2019, age 86.

Lee Mendelson

Lee Mendelson

Luis Alfonso Mendoza. Known as the Spanish-language voice of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, he was one of Mexico’s most popular voice actors and Latin American dub stars. Other roles included Dragon Ball’s Gohan, the title character in Count Duckula and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Leonardo. Died Feb. 29, age 55.

Luis Alfonso Mendoza

Luis Alfonso Mendoza

Vatroslav Mimica. Acclaimed Croatian director and screenwriter of animated and live-action films, whose distinctive style helped establish the “Zagreb School of Animation.” Credits include The Inspector Returns Home, The Lonely, The Fireman and Typhoid. Died Feb. 15, age 96.

Vatroslav Mimica

Vatroslav Mimica

Maureen Karen Mlynarczyk. Emmy-winning animation timing director, who worked on shows such as Mission Hill, What’s New Scooby-Doo, Family Guy, VeggieTales, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, American Dad!, The Cleveland Show, Clarence, Craig of the Creek, Adventure Time, Disenchantment, Steven Universe, Summer Camp Island and Big Mouth. Died Feb. 16, age 47.

Maureen Karen Mlynarczyk

Maureen Karen Mlynarczyk

Francisca Moralde. Worked in cel service at Disney, Hanna-Barbera and Kroyer Films. Died April 8.

Sue Nichols. Designer, storyboard and visual development artist best known for her work on Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Fantasia 2000, The Emperor’s New Groove, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Lilo & Stitch, Piglet’s Big Movie, Enchanted, The Princess and the Frog, Moana and UglyDolls. Died Sept. 1, age 55.

Sue Nichols

Sue Nichols

Kumiko Okae. Japanese actress who voiced Elena in The Dog of Flanders, Haru’s mother in Studio Ghibli’s The Cat Returns and Jenny in Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. Died April 23, age 53.

Dominic Orlando. Storyboard artist and supervisor who worked on shows such as The Fairly OddParents, CatDog, Dora the Explorer, Rugrats and SpongeBob SquarePants. Died May 14.

Joan Orloff. Inker, cel painter and Ink & Paint Supervisor at Disney Feature Animation and Filmfair, among other studios. Died July 16.

Juan Padrón. Cuban director and writer of many animated films, including the popular Quinoscopio anthologies, Elpidio Valdes and Vampires in Havana movies. Was known as the “Walt Disney of Cuba.” Died March 24, age 73.

Martin Pasko. Canadian comic-book and animation writer, who wrote for Superman in various media and recreated Doctor Fate. His TV animation career included writing episodes of Thundarr the Barbarian with Steve Gerber, as well as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teen Wolf, Berenstain Bears, G.I. Joe and My Little Pony. Died May 10, age 65.

Lisa Poitevint. Animation checker at Disney Feature Animation on films such as The Little Mermaid, Oliver & Company and The Black Cauldron. Died Jan. 15, age 87.

Anatoly Prokhorov. Key force in commercial and artistic animation in Russia, best known for founding the Petersburg Animation Studio and creating the Kikoriki franchise (known as Smeshariki in Russia). He also co-produced more than 30 films, including Aleksey Khatitidi’s Oscar-nominated short Gagarin, and co-produced Cartoon Network’s Mike, Lu & Og. Died Aug. 30, age 72.

Anatoly Prokhorov

Anatoly Prokhorov

Quino. (Né Joaquín Salvador Lavado.) Argentine creator of the globally popular comic strip Mafalda, which centered on an inquisitive six-year old girl with a mop of black hair. Died Sept. 30, age 88.

Quino

Quino

Rebecca Ramsey. Trailblazing visual effects producer whose dozens of credits include Watchmen, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She also worked on Life of Pi, Spider-Man 3, Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Died March 7, age 53.

Rebecca Ramsey

Rebecca Ramsey

Helen Reddy. Singer of the iconic song “I Am Woman” and “Angie Baby,” who is best remembered by animation fans as the star of 1977 movie Pete’s Dragon. Died Sept. 29, age 78.

Helen Reddy

Helen Reddy

Nick Rijgersberg. Canadian animation director and storyboard artist who worked on series such as The Country Mouse and the City Mouse Adventures, For Better or for Worse, The Busy World of Richard Scarry, The Little Lulu Show, The Ren & Stimpy Show, The Raccoons, Caillou, Punky Brewster and Bratz: Starrin’ & Stylin’. Died April 20, age 60.

Nick Rijgersberg and his friend Snoopy

Nick Rijgersberg and his friend Snoopy

Cesar Romero. Stop-motion costumer and puppet maker at Screen Novelties who worked on shows such as Robot Chicken, SpongeBob SquarePants, Adventures of Sam & Max, Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and The Tortoise and the Hare. Died April 23, age 47.

John Rooney. Canadian animation exec, executive director of TAAFI (Toronto Animation Arts Festival Intl.), director of programming at Corus Kids & Family and Teletoon, responsible for launching Cartoon Network and Adult Swim in Canada. He also worked as a consultant for Mattel, WildBrain, Zodiak Media and Epic Story Media. Died Dec. 10, Age 50.

John Rooney

John Rooney

Pamela Ross. Manager of New York’s Actors Playhouse and production manager at animation studio Jumbo Pictures who worked on shows such as Doug, The Cramp Twins and 101 Dalmatians: The Series. Died April 2, age 55.

Joe Ruby. Co-creator of Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Fred, Velma and Daphne and co-founder of Ruby-Spears Productions (with partner Ken Spears). Ruby and Spears launched their own production company in 1977, which was behind popular toons such Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Dynomutt, Jabberjaw, Mister T, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Superman, Thundarr the Barbarian, Fangface and The Plastic Man Comedy-Adventure Hour. Died Aug. 28, age 87.

Joe Ruby

Joe Ruby

Adam Schlesinger. Emmy and Grammy Award-winning songwriter and founding member of Fountains of Wayne. Created songs for Elmo The Musical, Sesame Street, Bubble Guppies, The Fresh Beat Band and Robert Smigel’s Saturday Night Live cartoons for J.J. Sedelmaier. Died April 1, age 52.

Gary Schumer. Effects animator at Walt Disney Animation (Mulan, Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear) and animation teacher at Ringling College of Art and Design.

Jerry Slick. Sound designer on Bud Luckey’s animated Sesame Street shorts, cinematographer and documentary filmmaker. Died March 17, age 80.

Ed Smith. New York animator who worked on John Hubley’s Moonbird and The Tender Game, as well as Simple Gifts, The Soldier’s Tale, KaBlam!, Between the Lions and Metropia. Died April 14, Age 95.

Ken Spears. TV writer, producer and sound editor who with Joe Ruby created the Scooby-Doo franchise for Hanna-Barbera and co-founded TV production company Ruby-Spears. Together, they produced shows such as Dynomutt, Fangface, Captain Caveman, Jabberjaw, The Barkleys, The Houndcats, The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, Thundarr the Barbarian, Saturday Supercade, Mister T, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Superman. Died Nov. 6, age 82.

Ken Spears

Ken Spears

Norm Spencer. Canadian actor who voiced Cyclops in X-Men: The Animated Series and Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Other credits include The Busy World of Richard Scarry, Silver Surfer, The Dumb Bunnies, Grossology and Rescue Heroes. Died April 31, age 62.

Herbert Stott. Layout artist, background artist and art director for classic cartoons such as Pink Panther, The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, Muppet Babies, Pinky and the Brain and Fritz the Cat. Died Feb. 8, age 85.

Marty Strudler. Designer and background and layout artist at DePatie-Freleng, Bakshi, Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. His many credits include The Deputy Dawg Show, Lidsville, Wizards, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cats, various Pink Panther shorts, Dungeons and Dragons, Muppet Babies, Tiny Toon Adventures, Freakazoid!, Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs and The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries. Died Oct. 15, age 91.

Marty Strudler

Marty Strudler

Ann Sullivan. Longtime animator who got her first job at an animation paint lab at Disney in the ’50s. She went on to apply her brush and palette to Disney classics such as The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and Lilo & Stitch. Died April 13, age 91.

Ann Sullivan

Ann Sullivan

Rudy Tomaselli. Founder of New York City’s commercial arts company Cel-Art who worked as animation checker on shows such as Downtown, Codename: Kids Next Door and Beavis and Butt-Head. Died April 26, age 87.

Albert Uderzo. Renowned French comic-book artist who created the hugely popular character Asterix with writer René Goscinny. The Gaulois warrior, his powerful friend Obelix, his pet Dogmatix and their friends have featured in 10 popular animated and live-action features. Died March 24, age 92.

Albert Uderzo

Albert Uderzo

Pino Van Lamsweerde. Italian-born Belgian animation designer and director who worked on movies and shows such as Heavy Metal, The Nutcracker Prince, The Legend of White Fang, Code Lyoko, Dragon Hunters, Spirou and Asterix in Britain. Died April 17, Age 79.

Phillip Walsh. Emmy-nominated writer and producer of shows such as Beakman’s World, Recess, Pound Puppies, Teamo Supremo and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Died Sept. 20.

Fred Willard. Popular actor, comedian and writer best known for his roles in mockumentaries such as This Is Spinal Tap and Best in Show. In animation, he lent his voice to characters in movies such as such as Chicken Little, Monster House, WALL·E and Planes: Fire and Rescue and TV shows like Hercules, The Simpsons, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, King of the Hill, The Loud House and Milo Murphy’s Law. Died May 15, age 86.

Fred Willard

Fred Willard

David Wise. Prolific writer who worked at Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, Disney and Warner Bros. He wrote for a wide variety of series including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Zorro, Batman: The Animated Series, Speed Racer, Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers, Jem, The Biskitts, Godzilla, Transformers, He-Man and Star Trek: The Animated Series. Died March 3, age 65.

David Wise

David Wise

Bill Wolf. Timing and animation director at Disney, Bagdassarian, Marvel and Klasky-Csupo whose TV credits included Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Duckman, Wild Thornberrys, Rugrats, All Grown Up and The Boondocks. Died March 24.

Hikari Yono. Voice actress best known for voicing Samui in Naruto and Kaolinite in Sailor Moon Crystal. She was also part of the voice cast of Basilisko, Ghost in the Shell, Lupin the 3rd, Mobile Suit Gundam, Tiger & Bunny and many others. Died Nov. 15, age 46.

Hikari Yono

Hikari Yono

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