Vincent “Vinnie” Bell, an animator whose 50-year career spanned everything from golden age Terrytoons shorts, to ’80s kid favorites The Berenstain Bears to 21st century adult comedy Harvey Birdman, has died at age 89. The gifted artist passed away at home in his lifelong hometown of Port Chester, New York on February 1.
Born October 27, 1931 to Vincenzo and Mariee Iacobelli, Vinnie Bell graduated from the local Port Chester school system and served with U.S. armed forces during the Korean War before starting his animation career at the famed Terrytoons studio, just down the road in New Rochelle. He started as an ink & paint artist before becoming a trusted animator, bringing to life cartoon shorts starring Clint Clobber, Sidney the Elephant, Dinky Duck and Gaston Le Crayon. In the following years, he worked on Terrytoons TV series such as The Deputy Dawg Show and Mighty Mouse.
Over the coming decades, Bell contributed his talents to diverse projects, such as Ernest Pintoff’s Oscar shortlisted The Old Man and the Flower, John Hubley’s geological trip Dig, The MAD Magazine TV Special, several Berenstain Bears TV movies, Michael Sporn’s Nightingale, The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, to which he lent his valuable experience of ’60s and ’70s cartooning to the retro-inspired animation and background art. Bell closed out five decades in the industry by contributing to Saturday Night Live and The Best of TV Funhouse in 2006/7.
Bell is survived by his children Scott, Stephen (Lisa) and Leslie, three grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by brothers Michael, Anthony and John.
A mass will be celebrated February 10 at St. Paul’s in Greenwich, Connecticut, followed by Bell’s interment at Greenwood Union Cemetery in Rye, New York.