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Paying Tribute

Alexandra Drosu / January 19, 2021

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For the last 25 years, The Animation Guild and ASIFA-Hollywood have hosted an Afternoon of Remembrance, a yearly, non-denominational event honoring those in the animation industry who have passed away. This year the event will be held virtually on January 30 and those who would like to attend can register at

Here, we pay tribute to all who created animation and said goodbye in 2020.

Michael Angelis
4/29/1944 – 5/30/2020
English actor Michael Angelis narrated Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends from 1991 to 2012. Among his best-known live-action TV roles was Chrissie Todd in the BAFTA-winning series Boys from the Blackstuff. He was 76.

Roman Arámbula
09/18/1936 – 03/19/2020
Born and trained in Mexico, including art lessons from Diego Rivera, Roman Arámbula started his animation career at Gamma Productions, where he worked on Jay Ward’s Rocky and Bullwinkle and Fractured Fairy Tales. While doing storyboards, layout and backgrounds at many LA-area animation studios, he eventually became lead artist for the daily Mickey Mouse comic strip on the Disney lot—a position he held for close to two decades. He was 83.

Kelly Asbury
01/15/1960 – 06/26/2020
Texas native Kelly Asbury started his career at Walt Disney Productions in 1983. He worked in storyboard, visual development and character design, and directed or co-directed five animated feature films: the Oscar-nominated Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Shrek 2, Gnomeo & Juliet, UglyDolls and Smurfs: The Lost Village. He was 60.

Julie Bennett
01/24/1932 – 03/31/2020
Voice actor Julie Bennett is best known for voicing Cindy Bear for more than two decades on numerous iterations of Yogi Bear. Her prolific career included The Bugs Bunny Show, Mr. Magoo, The Bullwinkle Show and Spider-Man: The Animated Series, where she was the voice of Aunt May Parker. She was 88.

Mannix Bennett
d. 10/16/20
In addition to doing digital matte painting for live-action projects, Mannix Bennett also had a career as a background artist. He worked on many animated features including All Dogs Go to Heaven, Fantasia 2000 and The Trumpet of the Swan.

Dorris Bergstrom
1923 – 10/24/2020
As a young artist without formal training, Dorris Bergstrom started her career in the Ink & Paint Department at Warner Bros. and soon moved up to assistant animator. Her career also included jobs at Walt Disney Studios, Filmation, Hanna-Barbera, Bill Melendez Productions, Ruby-Spears Productions and Bakshi Productions. Her credits include Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid and the 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings. She was 97 years old.

Patricia Blackburn
d. 09/03/2020
Patricia Blackburn worked as an animation checker and scene coordinator at studios including Hanna-Barbera, Filmation and Rich Entertainment. Her credits include Thundarr the Barbarian, BraveStarr and numerous Peanuts TV episodes.

Denise Blakely Fuller
04/21/1967 – 01/05/2020
Denise Blakely Fuller enjoyed a career in layout, matte painting and visual development. She started at Disney Animation, and also worked at Sony Picture Imageworks and Warner Bros. Animation, among other studios. Among her feature credits are The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Emperor’s New Groove, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Toy Story 3. She was 52.

Kobe Bryant
08/23/1978 – 01/26/2020
Sports icon Kobe Bryant was the writer, producer and star of the Oscar-winning animated short, Dear Basketball. He was 41.

Alfred Budnick
8/1/1938 – 02/29/2020
Alfred Budnick worked as a background artist at Hanna-Barbera, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and many other studios. His credits include The All-New Super Friends Hour, Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics, She-Ra: Princess of Power and Hey Arnold! He was 81.

Marge Champion
09/02/1919 – 10/21/2020
Marge Champion was the live-action dance model for Snow White and the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio. She also helped choreograph the “Dance of the Hours” segment in Fantasia. Married to award-winning Disney animator Art Babbitt in the 1930s, she was an advocate for animation throughout her life. She was 101.   

Curtis Cim
9/14/54 – 3/10/2020
Curtis Cim worked as a storyboard artist, as well as a character designer and layout artist and supervisor at studios such as Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, Warner Bros. and Universal. His resume included King of the Hill, Dragon Tales, Curious George, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo and many more TV shows. He was 65.

Ronald “Ron” Cobb
9/21/1937 – 9/21/20
A cartoonist and animator, Ron Cobb started his career at Disney Studios, becoming a breakdown artist on Sleeping Beauty. He worked as an editorial cartoonist for the underground Los Angeles Free Press in the 1960s, designed an album cover for Jefferson Airplane, and went on to a career in production design, including creating some of the characters in the famous cantina scene in LucasFilm’s original Star Wars. He was 83.

Doug Crane
06/15/1935 – 12/17/2020
Although Doug Crane spent much of his career in New York City, he also put in time at Los Angeles studios such as Terrytoons and Hanna-Barbera. He worked as an animator on numerous TV shows including He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power, as well as movies including Heavy Metal and Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. He was a professor of classical animation at New York’s School of Visual Arts and a member of Screen Cartoonists Local 841. He was 85.

Maureen Crane
d. 12/15/2020
An inker at Terrytoons, Maureen Crane met her husband-to-be, Doug Crane, when he began working at the same studio. They were married for 64 years, and she predeceased him by 2 days.

Nicola “Nick” Cuti
10/29/1944 – 2/21/2020
Comic book writer, artist and editor Nick Cuti created the characters Moonchild, Captain Cosmos, Starflake the Cosmic Sprite and E-Man (co-creator). In animation, he worked as a background designer and model designer for numerous studios on TV shows such as Dilbert, RoboCop: Alpha Commando, BraveStarr and 101 Dalmations: The Series. He was 75.

William “Bill” Davis
d. 1/13/2020
Animator Bill Davis’s career included work on numerous educational programs and projects, including Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, Braingames and Free to Be … You and Me.

Jason Davis
10/14/1984 – 02/16/2020
Voice actor Jason Davis is best known as the voice of Mikey Blumberg on Disney’s Recess. He was 35.

Gene Deitch
08/08/1924 – 04/16/2020
Gene Deitch created the early cult classic series Tom Terrific and Nudnik. He won the Oscar for best animated short in 1960 for Munro. He wrote and directed numerous animated TV shows and also served as a creative director at UPA and Terrytoons. He was 95.

Tomie dePaola
9/15/1934 – 3/30/2020
Beloved children’s book writer and illustrator Tomie DePaola ventured into the world of animation with an adaptation of his classic Strega Nona. He was 85.  

William “Dufris” Duffy
02/01/1958 – 03/25/2020
Voice actor William Dufris is best known for voicing the title character and four others on Bob the Builder. He was also a successful radio actor and audiobook narrator. He was 62.

Tony Eastman
11/08/1942 – 10/31/2020
East Coast-based Tony Eastman was an animator, storyboard artist and director. He directed the pilot of Nickelodeon’s Doug and worked on numerous TV shows including Beavis and Butt-Head and Courage the Cowardly Dog. He was 78.

James “Jim” Finch
d. 05/31/2020
Animation checker and continuity coordinator Jim Finch worked at Disney, Hanna-Barbera and Filmation on TV shows such as The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, Darkwing Duck, Aladdin, Jungle Cubs, Kim Possible and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

James Robert “Rob” Gibbs
10/17/1964 – 04/23/2020
Rob Gibbs began his career as a writer on Disney’s Pocahontas. We went on to work for Pixar, with credits that included many of the studio’s numerous feature films, as well as writing and directing on TV shows such as Mater’s Tall Tales. He was 55.

Mark Glamack
02/14/1947 – 05/29/2020
Mark Glamack worked as an animator, animation supervisor, timing director and sheet timer for studios such as Walt Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, HBO and MGM. He began his career on The Jungle Book and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and his TV credits include All Dogs Go to Heaven, Sonic the Hedgehog and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. He served six terms as Governor for the animated branch of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He was 73.

Danny Goldman
10/30/1939- 4/12/2020
Voice actor Danny Goldman is best known for voicing Brainy Smurf in the long-running The Smurfs and Robot Chicken series. He was 80.  

David Hemblen
9/16/1941 – 11/16/2020
English-born voice actor David Hemblen is well known to Marvel fans as the voice of Magneto in X-Men: The Animated Series. He was 79.

Harry “Bud” Hester
12/12/1928 – 2/3/2020
Bud Hester spent most of his career working at Walt Disney Animation alongside the studio’s Nine Old Men. In the 1970s he became the Business Representative for The Animation Guild (then known as the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Guild), leading it through two studio strikes. He was 92.

Sir Ian Holm Cuthbert CBE
9/12/1931 – 6/19/2020
Tony Award-winning English actor Ian Holm voiced Chef Skinner in the animated feature Ratatouille. He was 88.

Cullen Blaine Houghtaling
9/26/1935 – 12/2/2020
Timing director, supervising producer and storyboard artist Cullen Blaine worked on numerous TV shows such as The Magic School Bus, Garfield and Friends, The New Archies, The Flintstone Kids and numerous Scooby-Doo iterations. He also directed an episode of The Simpsons. He was 85.

Jim Houston
d. 3/26/2020
Engineer Jim Houston was considered a pioneer in his field and won two Academy Awards for Scientific and Engineering Achievement. He worked for studios such as Sony and Walt Disney Animation on feature films including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Fantasia 2000. He was 61.

Jim Janes
d. 9/3/2020
Comic book artist and storyboard artist Jim Janes worked on numerous TV shows including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men: The Animated Series and The Incredible Hulk.

Blair Kitchen
11/19/76 – 1/5/2020
Canadian storyboard artist and animator Blair Kitchen worked on Ferdinand, Busytown Mysteries, Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia and The Book of Life. He was 43.   

William “Bill” Knoll
d. 7/22/2020
Bill Knoll worked as an assistant animator, timing director and director at Hanna-Barbera, Marvel, Disney TV, Warner Bros. and other studios. His TV credits include Tom and Jerry Tales, The Proud Family, Pinky and the Brain, G.I. Joe, The Transformers, The Real Ghostbusters, Animaniacs and My Little Pony ‘n Friends.

Helen Komar
9/4/1927 – 11/27/2020
New York City-based animator Helen Komar worked on such classic cartoons as Popeye, Casper the Friendly Ghost and the original Spider-Man, as well as on commercials for products including Cheerios, Trix and Cocoa Puffs. Her film credits include Fritz the Cat. She was 93.

Hana Kukal
11/14/60 – 11/5/2020
Czech-born Canadian story artist and director Hana Kukal is best known for her work on FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Anastasia, Space Jam, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and PAW Patrol. She was 59.

David Lander
6/22/1947 – 12/4/2020
Famous for playing Squiggy on the sitcom Laverne & Shirley, David Lander also voiced Henry the Penguin in the TV series Oswald. Additional voice worked included The Garfield Show, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and A Bug’s Life. He was 73.

Nancy Lane Tomaselli
11/18/1940 – 11/20/2020
New York-based Nancy Lane worked as an animation artist, production manager, Ink & Paint supervisor and more. She spent her career at numerous studios including Cel-Art, Perpetual Motion Pictures, Richard Williams Productions and MTV Animation, with credits ranging from Schoolhouse Rock to Beavis and Butt-Head. She was married to animator Rudy Tomaselli who also passed away this year. She was 80.

Reggio Emilia “Ro” Marcenaro
7/6/1937 – 11/9/2020
A political cartoonist and director, Genoa-born Rodolfo Marcenaro was an animation pioneer in Italy. He was 83.

Luis Alfonso Mendoza
11/20/1964 – 2/29/2020
Mexican voice artist Luis Alfonso Mendoza was the Spanish-language voice of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. In Spanish he also voiced numerous other characters including Leonardo in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Edward Platypus in Camp Lazlo. He was 55.

Vatroslav Mimica
6/25/1923 – 2/15/2020
Croatian filmmaker Vatroslav Mimica was a key member of the Zagreb School of Animated Films. His 1958 short film Samac (The Loner) won the Venice Grand Prix. He was 96.

Maureen Mlynarczyk
8/24/1972 – 2/16/2020
Maureen Mlynarczyk worked as an animation timer and timing director on numerous movies and TV shows including The Cleveland Show, Family Guy, American Dad!, Rugrats Go Wild, Steven Universe and The Simpsons Movie. She won an Emmy for her work on Adventure Time. She was 47.

Francisca “Frances” Moralde
d. 4/8/2020
Frances Moralde worked in cel service at Disney, Hanna-Barbera and other studios on films including Oliver & Company, The Little Mermaid and FernGully: The Last Rainforest.

Sue Nichols-Maciorowski
6/10/1965 – 8/31/2020
Sue Nichols worked primarily in visual development at Disney, where she is credited for her contributions to the studio’s contemporary success. She also created memorable villains such as Jafar (Aladdin), Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog). She was 55.  

Kumiko Okae
8/23/1956 – 4/23/2020
Japanese actor Kumiko Okae voiced numerous characters including Jenny in the feature film Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. She was 63.

Dominic Orlando
d. 5/14/2020
Dominic Orlando worked as a Xerox processor at Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears before moving on to work as a storyboard artist, supervisor and director on TV shows such as Rugrats, Dora the Explorer, CatDog and The Fairly OddParents.

Joan Orloff
d. 7/16/2020
Joan Orloff worked as an inker, cel painter and Ink & Paint supervisor at studios including Disney Feature Animation and FilmFair.

Juan Padrón
1/29/1947 – 3/24/2020
Filmmaker and animator Juan Padrón is legendary in Cuba and has been compared to Walt Disney for his influence on the country’s animation industry. His most notable creation is the liberation fighter Elpidio Valdés, a main character in two feature films and dozens of shorts. He was 73.

Martin Pasko
8/4/1954 – 5/11/2020
Best known for writing for DC Comics for more than three decades, Martin Pasko won a Daytime Emmy Award as a writer and story editor on Batman: The Animated Series. Along with working on other animated shows, he also wrote for the sitcoms Cheers and Roseanne. He was 65.

Lisa Poitevint
d. 1/15/2020
Lisa Poitevint was as an animation checker at Disney Feature Animation. She worked on The Little Mermaid, Oliver & Company and The Black Cauldron.

Anatoly Prokhorov
7/17/1948 – 8/30/2020
Anatoly Prokhorov is considered a founding father of Russian animation. He co-founded Pilot, the first private independent animation studio in the then-Soviet Union. He is well known for creating the animated children’s series Kikoriki. He was 72.

Aleksey Kharitidi
1/26/1957 – 9/29/2020
Aleksey Kharitidi won the Palme d’Or – Best Short Film for Gagarin. He was 63.

Helen Reddy
10/25/1941 – 9/29/2020
Actor, songwriter, singer and activist Helen Reddy is known to animation fans as Nora the dragon in the 1977 version of Pete’s Dragon. She was 78.

Nick Rijgersberg
d. 4/20/2020
Canadian layout artist, sheet director and animation supervisor Nick Rijgersberg worked on For Better or for Worse, The Little Lulu Show and The Ren & Stimpy Show. He was 60.   

Cesar Romero
d. 4/20/2020
A master stop motion costumer, Cesar Romero worked at Screen Novelties in Hollywood, among other studios.

John Rooney
7/31/1970 – 12/10/2020
Canadian animation executive John Rooney launched Cartoon Network and Adult Swim in Canada. He also served as the executive director for the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International. He was 50.

Pamela “Pam” Ross
10/3/1964 – 4/2/2020
Pam Ross worked in production on The Cramp Twins and Doug. She was 55.  

Joe Ruby
3/30/1933 – 8/26/2020
Joe Ruby and Ken Spears were the legendary writing team behind the creation of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and other Hanna-Barbera classics. They supervised Saturday morning cartoon programming at ABC before starting their own studio, Ruby-Spears Productions. There they produced Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show and Thundarr the Barbarian. Ruby passed away only a few months before his longtime animation partner Ken Spears. He was 87.

Adam Schlesinger
10/31/1967 – 4/1/2020
Songwriter, singer and musician Adam Schlesinger contributed to the animation industry with compositions for Elmo the Musical, Sesame Street, Bubble Guppies and more. He was 52.

Gary Schumer
d. 6/28/2020
Along with a career as a visual effects animator for Walt Disney Animation Studios, Gary Schumer taught on the faculty at Ringling College of Art + Design.

Ed Smith
d. 4/11/2020
New York-based animator Ed Smith is best known for his work on the John Hubley short films The Tender Game and Moonbird, as well as R.O. Blechman’s PBS specials, Simple Gifts and The Soldier’s Tale. He was 95.

Ken Spears
3/12/1938 – 11/6/2020
Ken Spears and Joe Ruby were the legendary writing team behind the creation of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and other Hanna-Barbera classics. They supervised Saturday morning cartoon programming at ABC before starting their own studio, Ruby-Spears Productions. There they produced Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show and Thundarr the Barbarian. Spears passed away only a few months after his longtime animation partner Joe Ruby. He was 82.

Norm Spencer
2/23/1958 – 8/31/2020
Canadian voice actor Norm Spencer is best known for Marvel characters such as Cyclops in X-Men: The Animated Series. He was also a regular on The Busy World of Richard Scarry and Rescue Heroes

Herbert “Herb” Stott
9/20/1934 – 2/8/2020
Beginning his career as an assistant animator at Disney, Herb Stoff went on to co-found Spunbuggy Works in the early 1960s, and later founded Herb Stott Films, producing live-action and animated commercials. He and his team created spots for clients as wide-ranging as Tootsie Roll and the Grateful Dead. He was honored with The Animation Guild’s Golden Award in 2005. He was 85.

Martin “Marty” Strudler
7/30/1929 – 10/15/2020
A layout artist, background artist, graphic designer and character designer for Terrytoons, DePatie-Freleng, Bakshi, Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. TV Animation, Marty Strudler is best known for his work on shows based on classic characters such as The Sylvester & Tweety Series, Muppet Babies and numerous Pink Panther episodes. He also worked on Pinky and the Brain and R. Crumb’s Fritz the Cat. He was 91.

Ann Sullivan
4/10/1929 – 4/13/2020
Ink & Paint artist Ann Sullivan began her career at Disney in the 1950s, working on classic films like Peter Pan. She left the industry to raise a family and restarted her career at Hanna-Barbera in the early 1970s. Eventually returning to Disney, she worked on The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and numerous other feature films. She was 91.

Danilo Tolentino
d. 7/16/2020
Danilo Tolentino worked as a layout artist and storyboard artist. He is best known for his work on animated Marvel projects such as Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk and Avengers: United They Stand.

Rudolph “Rudy” Tomaselli
6/21/1932 – 4/26/2020
Rudy Tomaselli owned the commercial art company Cel-Art, where he worked with the creators of famous advertising characters such as the Hawaiian Punch guy. He was an animator for TV movies including Damn Yankees and Around the World in 80 Days, and he worked with MTV on Beavis and Butt-Head. He was married to animator Nancy Lane who also passed away this year. He was 87.

Tuck Tucker
8/20/1961 – 12/22/2020
Tuck Tucker worked in both feature films and TV as a layout artist, writer, storyboard artist and director on shows such as The Little Mermaid, The Simpsons, Hey Arnold! and SpongeBob SquarePants. He was 59.

Albert Uderzo
4/25/27 – 3/24/2020
French comic book artist Albert Uderzo is best known as the co-creator of the Astérix series. He worked as a writer on the TV series The Aeronauts and on numerous Astérix-inspired shows and video games. He was 92.  

Pino Van Lamsweerde
9/18/1940 – 4/17/2020
Born in Italy, Belgian animation designer, storyboard artist and director Pino Van Lamsweerde worked on TV shows and movies including Heavy Metal, The Nutcracker Prince, The Legend of White Fang, Code Lyoko, Dragon Hunters, Spirouand Astérix in Britain. He was 79.

Phil Walsh
d. 9/30/2020
Writer and producer Phil Walsh created Teamo Supremo and worked as a writer on Recess, House of Mouse, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Beakman’s World.

Craig Welch
09/27/1948 – 12/18/2020
Canadian filmmaker Craig Welch’s works were produced by the National Film Board of Canada. He directed the shorts Disconnected, No Problem, Welcome to Kentucky and How Wings are Attached to the Backs of Angels. He also wrote and animated many of his films. He was 71.

Fred Willard
9/18/1933 – 5/15/2020
Actor, comedian and writer Fred Willard also voiced characters in numerous TV shows and movies, including Chicken Little, Monster House, WALL·E, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, The Loud House and Milo Murphy’s Law. He was 86.
David Wise
2/1/1955 – 3/3/2020
David Wise was a writer best known for Star Trek: The Animated Series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers. He was 65.

William “Bill” Wolf
d. 3/24/2020
Bill Wolf worked in numerous positions including animation director at studios such as Filmation, Marvel and Murakami-Wolf Films, which was co-founded by his father. His credits include Alvin and the Chipmunks, My Little Pony ‘n Friends, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rugrats and The Boondocks.

Hikari Yono
10/8/74 – 11/15/2020
Hikari Yono was a Japanese voice actor best known in the US for voicing Bridget Amber in Brighter than the Dawning Blue and Kaolinite in Sailor Moon Amber. She was 46.

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