Monday, January 5, 2009

News - 01/05/09...

Eartha Kitt 1927 - 2008

Beautiful, outspoken singer, dancer and actress Eartha Kitt, the voice of Yzma in Disney's 2000 feature film The Emperor's New Groove and the subsequent TV series The Emperor's New School, died Thursday (Christmas Day) at 81.

A New York resident, Kitt died of colon cancer and was recently treated at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, said Andrew Freedman, a family friend.

Born out of wedlock in a South Carolina cotton field on January 17, 1927, the former Eartha Mae Keith was the daughter of a white dirt farmer and a black Cherokee mother. Famous for her camp performance as seductress Catwoman in the 1966 live-action series Batman, she was nominated twice for Broadway's Tony Award: in 1978, as Best Actress (Musical) for Timbuktu!, and in 2000, as Best Actress (Featured Role - Musical) for The Wild Party.

Kitt did much voice acting in animation.

Her role as Yzma in the Disney's The Emperor's New Groove won her an Annie for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Female Performer in an Animated Feature Production. It also brought her a nomination for the Black Reel Award for Theatrical - Best Supporting Actress.

The succeeding 2006 series
The Emperor's New School gave her much opportunity to portray Yzma again. This year, she won an Annie for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production for the episode Emperor's New Musical. Her role in the episode Kuzclone, which aired that year, got her an Annie nomination in that category.

In both 2007 and 2008,
The Emperor's New School earned her a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program.

She also was Yzma in the 2005 direct-to-video movie
Kronk's New Groove.

Kitt voiced Emerald in the 2001 Rankin Bass special
Santa, Baby! -- a spin-off of the Christmas novelty jazz tune that helped make her famous. The first Rankin Bass holiday special with an all African-American cast, it was inspired by the 1953 song that she recorded.

, a 1994 episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast, had her reunite with old Batman co-stars Adam West and Lee Meriwether. Going Batty, a 1995 episode of The Magic School Bus, saw her as "Mrs. Franklin" when Ms. Frizzle took the parents on a nighttime field trip to learn more about bats. The kids became bats themselves and found out the wonderful truth about these creatures of the night, and Ms. Frizzle.

The 1998
The Wild Thornberrys episode Flood Warning cast Kitt as a lioness. Near Mt. Kilimanjaro, when a flood washes away the Comvee and the Thornberries are forced to create shelter until morning, Eliza and Darwin go in search of lions. But finding out that lions are not very friendly when they want Eliza for dinner changes any illusions she might have had about their dispositions.

She was evil Queen Vexus in several episodes of
My Life as a Teenage Robot. In 2003's Hostile Makeover, after a battle with Queen Vexus, Jenny finds a zit on her head. In fact, her voice grew deep. Would it be some sort of puberty for robots? No! She was infected with a tiny alien machine (courtesy of Queen Vexus), changing her from within, turning her into a hideous monster!

Kitt was the voice of the Fortune Teller in the 2007
American Dad episode Dope And Faith.

The 1985 Humberside College student cartoon
The Day That the Circus Left Town
was an illustration of the song performed by Kitt.

An international star who has given new meaning to the word "versatility," she was one of only a handful of performers to be nominated twice for both a Tony Award and a Grammy Award as well as for an Emmy.

"Now in her fifth decade of making men nervous, Eartha Kitt still electrifies audiences with her one of a kind persona, peppering her flirty set with gold-digging songs about champagne, stretch limos, and pearls," said the Associated Press. "In an era when cabaret is mostly musty theater, Kitt's shows are fresh and vibrant -- and increasingly being embraced by Gen-Xers."

Kitt was given away by her mother and sent to live with an aunt in Harlem at age eight. It was in New York that her distinct individuality and flair for show business manifested itself, when, at the urging of a friend, she auditioned for the famed Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe. She was awarded a position as a featured dancer and vocalist, and before she turned 20, she had toured with it worldwide.

While performing with the Dunham Troupe in Paris, Kitt was spotted by a nightclub owner who signed her on as a cabaret singer. She gained fame and admirers quickly, including Orson Welles, who called her "the most exciting woman in the world" and signed her to play Helen of Troy in his acclaimed production of Dr. Faust.

Upon her return to the United States, Kitt played a 20-week run at the Blue Angel -- a still unbroken record for cabaret artists -- before moving on the Village Vanguard. There she was seen by Leonard Stillman, who included her in New Faces of 1952. Her legendary performance in "Monotonous," in which she appeared for a year on Broadway, would lead to a national tour and a Twentieth Century Fox film by the same name.

Broadway stardom led to a recording contract and a succession of best-selling records, including Love For Sale and Folk Tales of the Tribes of Africa, for which she received a Grammy nomination. She also published her first autobiography, Thursday's Child, during this period, and returned again to the cabaret scene with runs at The Persian Room, The Empire Room, and London's Talk of the Town, among others.

Kitt then made her return to Broadway in the dramatic play Mrs. Patterson, for which she received a Tony nomination. Other stage appearances followed, as did film work that included The Mark of the Hawk with Sidney Poitier and Anna Lucasta with Sammy Davis, Jr. During this period she also became involved in the "Batman" television series in her infamous Catwoman role while continually finding time to make concert appearances.

Singing in 10 different languages, Kitt sang in 100 countries. She was honored with a star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame in 1960.

Kitt's career came to a sudden about face in 1968 when, at a White House luncheon hosted by First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, Kitt spoke out against the Vietnam War. For many years afterward, she would be blacklisted by many in the U.S. entertainment industry and would be forced to work abroad, where her status remained undiminished.

In 1974, she returned to the U.S. in an acclaimed Carnegie Hall concert. In 1978, she received her second Tony Award nomination.

Kitt's second autobiography, Alone With Me, was published in 1976, and the third volume, I'm Still Here: Confessions of a Sex Kitten, was released in 1989. In 1982, a critically acclaimed feature-length documentary on her life, All By Myself, was produced by filmmaker Christian Blackwood.

Kitt's fans got younger all the time. As Stephen Holden of the New York Times wrote a few years ago, "Eartha Kitt is finally being discovered by the generation that thought Madonna pioneered the image of the pop singer as a gold-digging femme fatale…. Her avariciously slinky stage alter ego is as classic in its way as Mae West's shimmying blond bawd, and just as funny."

In recent years, she was just as active as ever and had no plans to slow down. In 1994, her performance at the Café Carlyle in New York had star-studded audiences, and her album
Back in Business
was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1996. She also made frequent guest appearances on such TV series as The Nanny and New York Undercover, while her world-famous voice could be heard on commercials and in New York City taxis advising riders to buckle up.

In November 2000, Kitt began a tour of the U.S. with an onstage version of Cinderella, in which she played the fairy godmother. She appeared in the Showtime film Feast of All Saints. Her newest book, Rejuvenate: It's Never Too Late, was released in 2001.

Kitt was the national spokesperson for Project On Growing, a program which teaches homeless families to grow their own food and feed themselves.

Eartha Kitt was married to real estate developer Bill McDonald from 1960 until their 1965 divorce. They had a daughter, Kitt McDonald Shapiro.

Fox Owns "Watchmen" Rights

The SciFi Wire and Superhero Hype reports that a federal judge in Los Angeles has granted 20th Century Fox's claim that it owns a copyright interest in the upcoming film, Watchmen. The decision was disclosed in a five-page written order issued on Christmas Eve. Fox has been seeking to prevent Warner Brothers from releasing the film since February.

Judge Gary A. Feess has also suggested that both Fox and Warner Brothers should work on a settlement or an appeal rather than going to trial.

Warner Home Video Brings "Max Fleischer's Superman" to DVD on April 7, 2009

Warner Home Video has announced the Max Fleischer's Superman 2-disc DVD set, which will present the iconic animated shorts in newly restored versions. The set will contain all 17 of the short films. Suggested retail price is $26.99; any additional special features have not been announced at this time.

UPDATE: According to the Superman Home Page, the set will contain 2 retrospective featurettes titled "The Man, The Myth, Superman" and "First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series."

"Exosquad" Coming to DVD reports that Universal Studios is bringing Season 1 of Exosquad on DVD April 14, 2009.

The two disc set will contain 13 episodes of a group of small fighters facing against the Neosapiens in a war to save humanity.

The cartoon aired on USA Network in 1993 and features the voices of Robby Benson (Prince Valiant in The Legend of Prince Valiant) as Lt. J.T. Marsh, Lisa Ann Beley (Teela from the 2002 version of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe) as Lt. Nara Burns, and Gary Chalk (He-Man from The New Adventures of He-Man) as Marsala.

Warner Home Video Releases 4 New Images from "Wonder Woman"

Warner Home Video has given DC Comics superhero fans an early Christmas gift in the form of four new high-definition images and captions from the upcoming direct-to-video movie Wonder Woman. Click on any of the images to enlarge.

Artemis (center, voiced by Rosario Dawson) takes the lead during a gathering of Amazonians in Wonder Woman. Princess Diana, later to be known as Wonder Woman, stands immediately to the right of Artemis.

Ares assumes an even more menacing form in battle as the primary villain in the all-new DC Universe animated original movie, Wonder Woman. Ares is voiced by Alfred Molina. Read what Molina had to say about being Ares.

Wonder Woman gets the upper hand, er, lasso on Ares' henchman Deimos during a thrilling action sequence in the all-new DC Universe animated original movie, Wonder Woman.

Steve Trevor reacts angrily to Ares' affront to an American icon in the all-new DC Universe animated original movie, Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman will be released on DVD and Blu-ray disc on March 3, 2009 (see the details here), and will premiere at a special screening at the New York Comic Con on February 6, 2009.

9 Teaser

The teaser to Shane Acker's feature-length version of 9 has been released. Choose your resolution at the 9 trailer page on Apple's website.

The Post Christmas Linkorama

While you're digesting the rich food that will soon bulk up your waistline, peruse the Links of Toonage ...

Beginning with an interview with animation director Ari Folman:

[Waltz With Bashir] is such a beautiful and strange film. But it's such an unlikely subject for animation. Why did you decide to tell a true story about your memories of the Lebanon war as an animated film?

You know, when you write a story you imagine it, and the scenes in my mind were always drawn, always animated. So there was not another option. I would never do it any other way. And, honestly, I think I wouldn't be sitting here with you today if this was not an animated film. You wouldn't care about what happened to a guy like me 25 years ago, when I was just a common soldier in Lebanon, if you weren't told, "Oh, it's a very cool animated film. You have to see this film."

As a filmmaker it gave me total freedom to do whatever I liked. To go from one dimension to another. To go from real stories to the subconscious to dreams to hallucinations to drugs to fear of death to anxiety, everything. I had the liberty to play with everything in one story line ...

Wallace and Gromit might not have set the world afire at the theatrical box office, but they're doing quite nicely on British television.

A Matter Of Loaf & Death, the first new made-for-television adventure starring the animated pair in 13 years, was watched by an average of 14.3 million people, the highest figure for any programme on British television this year ...

[BBC One Controller Jay Hunt said:]
"More than half of all people watching television tuned in to watch Wallace & Gromit
's latest adventure. This is a phenomenal performance and one that confirms once again BBC One's position as the nation's favourite at Christmas."

Despite the increasing popularity of video games and the internet, it appears that families still enjoy slumping in front of the television on Christmas Day. The average total television audience in peak time was 24.4 million, up from 23.8 million in 2007.

In little more than a month, Toon Disney magically transforms into Disney XD, which is fortuitous, since live action will be rearing its head on the rebranded platform:

Beginning in February, Toon Disney will morph into the newly named Disney XD. There won't be any High School Musical or Hannah Montana on this Disney network. Instead, this multi-platform brand will feature both live-action and animated fare that appeals to the mud-eating, snot-blowing, rough-and-tumble crowd of boys, tweens and teens. In addition to current Toon Disney fare like Jetix, there will be a number of new shows on XD as well.

The new offerings include
Aaron Stone, about a video gaming teen who is secretly being trained as a super agent; Zeke & Luther, a mockumentary about two skateboarders and their quest to become the best in the world; and Kid Knievel
, an animated show about a young boy trying to become the world's greatest daredevil ...

And you'll be pleased to know that Bugs Bunny's greatest hits are being played live and in-person by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra:

The names Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn don't appear on any list of the great composers of our time. They should be. At least that's what George Daugherty thought back in 1990.

The San Francisco-based conductor developed the super popular Bugs Bunny on Broadway concert series as a way to celebrate the musical genius of the two Warner Brothers cartoon studio musical directors.

For a symphony orchestra to tackle playing live scores to Bugs Bunny hits such as
"What's Opera Doc?" or "The Rabbit of Seville" is, in many ways, far more challenging than a Mozart or Brahms concerto. In other words, it's a lot of fun for the musicians ...

Because once you've seen Elmer Fudd chasing about on screen singing
"Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit," you will never hear Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" the same way again, whether in concert or in Apocalypse Now.

"That's really why I'm still doing this project after almost 20 years," says Daugherty. "This material is so brilliant that it just doesn't get old." ...

Box Office Prophets does a profile of Pixar's upcoming The Bear and the Bow, a trip into classical fairy tale country for the Emeryville studio:

The Bear and the Bow is set in a mythical Scotland and follows the royal family King Fergus (Billy Connolly), Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), Princess Merida (Reese Witherspoon) and her three little brothers. Merida wants to pursue her dream of becoming an archer. However, due to her reckless decisions she inadvertently brings disaster and destruction to her father’s kingdom. Realising what she’s done, Merida tries to set things right. Along the way she meets a 15-foot bear and a witch (voiced by Julie Walters).

Across the Pacific, the Philippines has produced its first animated feature:

“Dayo: Sa Mundo ng Elementalia,” the only animated feature in this month’s Metro Manila Film Festival, garnered an A grade from the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB).

Directed by Robert Quilao and produced by Cutting Edge Productions,
“Dayo” received enthusiastic praises from board members.

“It’s very Filipino, but very hip,” said one reviewer ...

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Is Airbender Casting Racist?

M. Night Shyamalan can't catch a break, even with something as seemingly innocuous as a live-action film based on the popular animated Nickelodeon television series Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Shyamalan--the love-him-or-hate-him director of
The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water and The Happening--has raised hackles by casting white actors as the main characters in his big-screen take on Avatar. The problem: Avatar, the TV show, featured a decidedly Asian world with predominantly Asian characters, including Aang, the title character, the Chosen One who must unite four warring worlds; Sokka, Aang's friend; and Katara, Sokka's sister.

Some livid fans are calling Shyamalan--who is writing, producing and directing the film for Paramount Pictures--racist for tapping Noah Ringer, a karate champion from Texas, as Aang,
Twilight's Jackson Rathbone as Sokka and Nicola Peltz of Deck the Halls
as Katara. Also off-putting for those offended, pop music idol Jesse McCartney is reportedly in negotiations to play Aang's rival, Prince Zuko.

Loraine Sammy, a SCI FI Wire reader, wrote in to complain. "The Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series was one [saturated] in Asian and Inuit culture," she wrote. "To see the live-action main cast be completely turned over to white actors was a slap in the face for those loyal to the show and by extension, for racially diverse people. Even further anger was because the movie is likely to stay in an Asian/Inuit-influenced world, but populated by white people. This is Orientalism."

Sammy cited quotes from Nickelodeon executives and press releases attesting to The Last Airbender's Asian bent. Marjorie Cohn, executive vice president, development and original programming, once stated, "Creators Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino designed a fantastical Asian world with compelling characters and interesting creatures that will capture kids' imaginations and spirit."

A Nickelodeon press release said, "The unique attributes of the show--epic storytelling, Asian influence and film quality graphics--have generated one of the most passionate fan bases in Nickelodeon's history."

Elsewhere on the Internet, yoyoyo posted the following on "M. Night is a sell-out. Way to ruin one of the best animated series ever."

M. Night Shyamalan on the set of his last movie, The Happening.

On the same site, Avatar Browncoat wrote: "I'm not really pleased. First off, I'm not mad about any particular castmember's race, but a major theme of Avatar was tolerance of difference[s]. I think selecting an all-white cast does not hold true to this, or maybe my reaction does not (devil's advocate). Also, it seems that in the case of selecting established actors, in regards to Katara and Zuko, in my opinion hurt the film. A brand new world is getting ready to be explored, [and] having an existing impression of an actor pulls you out of the escapism and [makes] it less believable. Lastly, I feel that if Jesse McCartney was cast as Zuko, that it would be done strictly for mainstream crossover reasons. I think the same is true for Sokka."

Over at, David argued the following: "Sure the world of Avatar isn't our world. But here's something which pulls apart the argument of those who say casting white people for Katara and Sokka is OK. If there was a cartoon mythology based on African culture, and because of the magic, it was clearly not our world, does that mean when you make a movie about it that you'd hire white people to act on the subject matter, which is based on African culture? Or reverse that. If there was a cartoon mythology based on British culture and history, if you turned it into a movie, would you get Africans to play the main characters? I think the respectful thing to do is to hire people to play the characters who actually have something to do with the source culture the mythology is based on. If someone was going to make a movie about World War II, when the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor, can you imagine if they cast Japanese to play Americans? And Americans to play Japanese? That movie would be such a joke. It would make no sense. The same applies here."

Responding to that post on the same site, Brandon put the discussion in some perspective. He wrote: "Never thought I'd see Avatar compared to a movie about WWII . But really though, I've never seen the show nor do I know ANYTHING about it or the characters. I really could care less what ethnicity the characters are as long as they stay true to Night's vision of the adaptation. Not everything that is adapted has to be EXACTLY the same as the previous source. The book is very different than the movie, but the movie IMO is one of the most accomplished pieces of cinema in history. All that I'm saying is let the movie stand on its own, let the actors play their parts, go see it opening night, and THEN you can bitch about the talents' race. If the movie sucks, then it sucks. Not the end of the world guys!"

SCI FI Wire attempted to reach Shyamalan--who was born in India but raised in the United States--for comment, but did not receive a response to e-mails. Avatar: The Last Airbender is in preproduction now with an eye toward a July 2, 2010, opening.

Boxleitner Returns For "TR2N"

Original "Tron" co-star Bruce Boxleitner is tipped to be returning for Disney's upcoming sequel to the 1982 sci-fi cult classic according to Coming Soon.

In the original, hacker/arcade owner Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is digitally broken down into a data stream by a villainous software pirate known as the Master Control Program (MCP) and reconstituted into the internal, 3-D graphical world of computers.

It is there, in the ultimate blazingly colorful, geometrically intense landscapes of cyberspace, that Flynn joins forces with Tron (Boxleitner) to outmaneuver the MCP that holds them captive in the equivalent of a gigantic, infinitely challenging computer game.

The site says Boxleitner is currently filming a role for the project which also stars Olivia Wilde and Beau Garrett.

Werewolves Are Such Foxy "Bitches"

"Superman Returns" and "X2" co-scribe Mike Dougherty is developing the werewolf dramedy "Bitches" for FOX says Reuters.

The story is described as a quirky fairy tale of a quartet of female friends in New York City who just happen to be werewolves - think "Sex and the City" with far less waxing.

"Pushing Daisies" co-executive producers/writers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts have have also boarded the project.

Hanna Barbera 60's Super Heroes Proposed Sculpt Designs

An old post, but interesting - from Ruben Procopio's blog -

Remember these? Space Ghost, Birdman, Mightor, and gang...

Watch Coraline Featurettes!

A bunch of behind-the-scenes featurettes have gone live for Coraline, Henry Selick's upcoming stop-motion-animated movie, based on Neil Gaiman's book, and you can watch them all here!

In the movie, Coraline Jones (voiced by Dakota Fanning) is bored in her new home until she finds a secret door and discovers an alternate version of her life on the other side. On the surface, the parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life and the people in it--only much better. But when this seemingly perfect world turns dangerous, and her other parents (including her Other Mother, voiced by Teri Hatcher) try to trap her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination and bravery to escape this increasingly perilous world--and save her family. Coraline opens Feb. 6, 2009.

Tiny Needles:

Meet the Cast:

The Biggest Smallest Movie:

Puppet POV:


Doll Hair:

Artwork from Waltz with Bashir

OregonLive shares some artwork from Ari Folman’s acclaimed animated feature Waltz with Bashir. Based on Folman’s memoirs of the Lebanon War, Waltz with Bashir features artwork by award-winning Israeli illustrator and cartoonist Tomer Hanuka. David Polonsky has served as art director on the film.

7th Voyage of Sinbad added to Nat'l Film Registry

Incorporating stop-action animation, special-effects master Ray Harryhausen's The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) was named Tuesday to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington named 25 important motion pictures -- classics and genres from every era of American filmmaking--to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, including The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Deliverance (1972), A Face in the Crowd (1957), The Invisible Man (1933), Sergeant York (1941) and The Terminator (1984). Spanning the period 1910-1989, this year's selections bring the number of motion pictures in the registry to 500.

In The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Harryhausen provides the hero with fantastic antagonists, including a sword-wielding animated skeleton, a giant cyclops and fire-breathing dragons, all in Technicolor. "His stunning Dynamation process, which blended stop-motion animation and live-action sequences, and a fantastic score by Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, North by Northwest, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Citizen Kane, Vertigo) makes this one of the finest fantasy films of all time," Billington said.

Also on this year's National Film Registry is Disneyland Dream, a significant home movie record of Hollywood and Los Angeles in 1956. In it, the Barstow family films a memorable home movie of its trip to Disneyland.

Robbins and Meg Barstow, along with their children Mary, David and Daniel, were among 25 families who won a free trip to the newly opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California as part of a "Scotch Brand Cellophane Tape" contest sponsored by 3M. Through vivid color and droll narration ("The landscape was very different from back home in Connecticut"), we see a fantastic historical snapshot of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Catalina Island, Knott's Berry Farm, Universal Studios and Disneyland in mid-1956.

Rounding out the 2008 National Film Registry are Flower Drum Song (1961), Foolish Wives (1922), Free Radicals (1979), Hallelujah (1929), In Cold Blood (1967), Johnny Guitar (1954), The Killers (1946), The March (1964), No Lies (1973), On the Bowery (1957), One Week (1920), The Pawnbroker (1965), The Perils of Pauline (1914), So's Your Old Man (1926), George Stevens World War II Footage (1943-46), Water and Power (1989) and White Fawn's Devotion (1910).

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant, to be preserved for all time. These films are not selected as the "best" American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring significance to American culture.

"With this year's list, the registry now includes 500 films and stands as a matchless record of the amazing creativity America has brought to the movies since the early 1890s," said Billington. "Both as a public-awareness tool and as an educational learning aid for students, the registry helps this nation understand the diversity of America's film heritage and, just as importantly, the need for its preservation. The nation has lost about half of the films produced before 1950 and as much as 90 percent of those made before 1920. In addition, more and more nitrate-based and acetate-based films are deteriorating with the passage of time."

SIGGRAPH Festival expanding call for submissions

In response to a successful expanded format in 2008, the SIGGRAPH 2009 Computer Animation Festival will again be open to the public and feature a comprehensive collection of juried and invited screenings that will showcase the most recent advances in computer-generated imagery.

In addition, the festival will feature presentations and panels that focus on the art, science, and technology that are used to create the latest advances in production and projection of digital cinema and visualizations. The festival is also expanding its general call for submissions to include Visual Music and Real-Time Rendering.

Submissions for Real-Time Rendering are encouraged to highlight work produced interactively using real-time game engines that push the boundaries of what users and viewers have come to expect in all fields where real-time rendering is used: games, medicine, astrophysics and more. The Visual Music focus aims to present work that spans visual music culture from the academic vision of Visual Music to the more urban pop culture vision of music combined with visuals such as music video. Live or captured DJ performances will be considered as well.

Artworks that combine music and images into a captivating multi-sensory experience are encouraged. The deadline for all submissions is March 4 (10 p.m. UTC/GMT).

"SIGGRAPH continues to be the place to showcase the latest technical achievements and innovations in animations and computer graphics," stated SIGGRAPH 2009 executive producer Carlye Archibeque from Sony Pictures Imageworks. "Real time engines and visuals that interact with music are creating some of the most amazing graphics available today. Incorporating a larger focus on music and real-time rendering in animation will make the Festival a truly comprehensive example of the computer graphics industry and provide a stage for some of the world's best work."

Expected to be one of the highlights of the Computer Animation Festival, the Evening Theater (ET) will run Monday through Thursday, showcasing a cross section of the "best of" juried and invited films. In order to allow attendees flexibility in their schedule, the times when the juried and the invited best of screenings will alternate each night. Films will be chosen based on the voting of a jury of industry experts.

"We are excited to add a new twist to the competition screenings based on feedback from the past year that combines the flexibility of the programming with the need of the attendees to have a designated screening that showcases the best of the best," Archibeque added.

Juried content will be featured during the daily screenings, with attendees able to choose from several time choices based on their schedule preference. The daytime Competition and Invited Screenings will be genre-focused based on the film category (narrative animation, real time, research, etc). A special "Jury Chair" Reel will be showcased that will feature the favorite pieces of the 2009 jury chair, Miles Perkins from Industrial Light and Magic.

This year, the Computer Animation Festival has a special invited focus on Multicultural Representations and Visualizations as part of its Invited Content program. The goal is to include works of all genres of animation, games, visual effects and storytelling that display a multicultural vision.

SIGGRAPH welcomes input for works to include in this program; contact Archibeque directly with suggestions. Curation for this focus will continue through late spring.

Creative, scientific and technical presentations, and discussions on the process of creating films, behind-the-scenes developments, virtual tools, production-related art and related subjects will be offered as presentations and panels throughout the Computer Animation Festival. Retrospectives and documentaries about computer graphics visionaries and their tools will also be featured.

Detailed information on submission categories and important deadlines for film submissions can be found at For information regarding how to submit for Real-Time Rendering pieces, visit

For complete information on SIGGRAPH 2009, or to download a copy of the SIGGRAPH 2009 preview video, visit

aniBoom Awards names three winning animations

aniBoom, the world's first animation virtual studio, has unveiled the winners for its Third Annual aniBoom Awards, designed for independent animators across the globe.

After receiving roughly 1,300 entries from 93 cities in 27 countries, the grand prize was awarded to Joaquin Baldwin from Sherman Oaks, California by a high-profile executive jury and millions of viewers. Baldwin's animation, Sebastian's Voodoo (, is a touching story of a voodoo doll who sacrifices himself for his friends. The doll must find the courage to save his friends from being pinned to death.

As the grand prize winner, Baldwin will receive a $25,000 investment in commercial development and a distribution deal with aniBoom that will enable the winning animator to receive significant career-making exposure through a variety of outlets and channels.

"We applaud all those who entered the aniBoom Awards from around the world and particularly congratulate the extremely talented artists who earned cash and prizes," said aniBoom founder and president Uri Shinar. "Year after year, we look forward to seeing remarkable animations, sharing the work of these independent artists with the world, and partnering to develop the next breakthrough animation property."

Along with the top winner, aniBoom's online animation community selected three Community Favorites, led by top community winner Bang Bang You are Bread ( by Australia's Mitch Wade, in which a psychotic loaf of bread seeks revenge on Dr. Atkins, creator of the low-carb revolution.

The competition's panel of judges chose three Top Selections, led by Germany's Tomer Eshed and his animation, Our Wonderful Nature (, an exciting wildlife show exposé in which the mating rituals of Water Shrews are revealed to be more than just a quick scuffle.

These six winners, along with the top 50 community picks, will share $50,000 in cash and prizes, including ToonBoom software, CG Society books, and Stash DVD magazines with coupon cards valued at $55.

In addition to the cash and prizes, winners of the aniBoom Awards will benefit from substantial exposure across aniBoom's multi-platform animation network and will be considered for original series development deals.

"We at aniBoom were very excited to implement an innovative ranking system for this year's aniBoom Awards that gauged community popularity not only by views and votes but also by how viral an animation was," said Shawn Stein, online marketing director for aniBoom. "The community ranking is made up of a number of factors online, giving a real and fair indication of how popular a movie becomes."

For more details on the Third Annual aniBoom Awards, or to watch all the winning entries, visit

Filipino digital animated feature wins four awards

The Philippines' first all-digital animated feature film won four awards Saturday night (12/28/08) at the 34th Metro Manila Film Festival.

Dayo sa Mundo ng Elementalia, about a bullied 11-year-old boy who saves his abducted grandparents, won for Best Visual Effects (Robert Quilao), Best Musical Score (Jessie Lasaten; recorded with the FILharmoniKA conducted by Gerard Salonga), Best Theme Song ("Lipad," by Jessie Lasaten and Temi Abad, Jr.; performed by Lea Salonga with the FILharmoniKA conducted by Gerard Salonga) and Best Sound (Whannie Dellosa and Mike Idioma).

"We are so thankful for these technical awards because they have validated our vision for Dayo. These awards pay tribute to all the Filipino artists, specifically our animators who have worked on the film," said Lasaten, the film's executive producer.

Bubuy, the main character, is voiced by Nash Aguas; Anna, a teen who partners with him, is voiced by Hopia Legaspi. To save Bubuy's grandparents, they journey to fantasy land Elementalia, which teems with odd flora and fauna and is home to several mythological (and enchanted) Philippine creatures.

Budgeted at an estimated $1.3 million U.S., Dayo was powered by Toon Boom using Macintosh and Linux platforms. 2D animation was used for the characters, while 3D animation was used for backgrounds, particularly for major scenes.

Dayo was produced in Dolby 7.1 surround sound. Its production team, led by Lasaten and director Robert Quilao, collaborated with Technicolor in Thailand for post-production.

Dayo sa Mundo ng Elementalia premiered on Christmas Day and is being screened in movie theatres throughout the Philippines.

Imagi Hits Rough Patch

This doesn't look real swell ...

... Auditors delivered a 'going concern' qualification to the half year results of Hong Kong- and LA-based animation firm Imagi Int'l which last year delivered "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" for Warner Bros and Weinstein Co.

... [A]udit firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu said
"it is uncertain whether the Group will have the necessary financial resources to complete these animated pictures."

"At 30 September 2008, the group had bank and cash balances of approximately HK$88.9 million ($11.5 million,) while it is expected to incur approximately HK$512 million ($66 million) cash outlay to complete its animation pictures and to meet its daily operating expenses in coming years up to June 2010 (of which approximately HK$353 million [$45.6 million] is required within the next 12 months) before revenue from the animation pictures is generated," Deloitte said.

"The directors are actively pursuing various funding sources to meet the group's cash flow requirements…. However, it is uncertain whether these fund raising exercises will be successful," Deloitte said. "Consequently, in the absence of evidence that the group will be successful in raising the necessary funding as and when it is required, we consider that there is a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt on the group’s ability to operate as a going concern ..."

A short while ago, we received a communication from the company that there could be a short hiccup in cash flow, but not to worry. There were plenty of bucks overall and everything would be ducky in due course.

Based on this, maybe things are a tad more serious than that.

The company has several animated features in various stages of production, and a lot of money invested in them. It's going to be grim for the sizable staff working in Sherman Oaks (not to mention Hong Kong) if everything comes to a grinding halt.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Over at Film Roman

Although I know it's silly to go to studios between Christmas and New Year's because many are as empty as Dodge City during a gunfight , Tuesday I ... went to studios.

Cartoon Network had a few artists working away like demons in selected cubicles, but it was mostly pretty quiet. And at Film Roman/Starz Media ...

... the King of the Hill and Goode Family crews are winding down. As a Gooder told me:

"The first batch of episodes are finishing up, and I'm out of here in January. Who knows if we get a pick up? The show won't be on the air until Spring, and the network will probably take its time about deciding on a full season. I'm going to have to get out there and look for work way before that happens ..."

King of the Hill staff still doesn't know if some other network will pick up a new season of Hank Hill et famille. All anyone appears to be sure of is that Fox is satiated, so it's up to CBS or some other conglom to step up to the punch bowl and drink.

Up on The Simpsons, they're revising the long-time opening to fill the format of the wider, high-def teevee screen. Same elements that everyone has known and loved, now updated to reflect two decades of the shows ever-broadening scope ... and the changes brought by last year's feature.

Television animation in one sentence? Most everybody scrambles to land the next assignment.

Add On: Several KOTH staffers stopped me in the hall to say they're jumping over to Cleveland at Fox Animation. (Happily, Fox has kept prime-time animated shows bubbling ...)

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

New Watchmen Featurette Online

Warner Bros. Pictures has provided us with a new featurette on director Zack Snyder's Watchmen, coming to conventional theaters and IMAX (hopefully) on March 6th. The big screen adaptation stars Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson. You can watch the featurette using one of the links below:

QuickTime, High Definition (1080p)
QuickTime, High Definition (720p)
QuickTime, High Definition (480p)
QuickTime, Hi-Res
QuickTime, Med-Res
QuickTime, Lo-Res
Windows Media Player, High Definition (1080p)
Windows Media Player, High Definition (720p)
Windows Media Player, Hi-Res
Windows Media Player, Med-Res
Windows Media Player, Lo-Res
iPod Video, Zipped

‘The First Avenger: Captain America’ Roundup — Facts, Rumors, Casting And Plot Points

With all the talk about the success of “The Dark Knight,” the bad-ass vibe of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and the legal troubles of “Watchmen,” it’s easy to forget that there’s another, even bigger slate of comics-savvy films hitting theaters down the road — not the least of which is the culmination of Marvel Studios’ glorious four-year plan: “The Avengers.” And just a few weeks before “The Avengers” hits theaters, the world will be introduced to the superteam’s eventual leader in “The First Avenger: Captain America.”

However, with no shortage of news, speculation and detective-like investigation surrounding “Captain America,” it can be hard to distinguish where the rumors end and the facts begin. To that end, UGO has posted an exhausting roundup of just about everything there is to know about the film (and a few things we’re still guessing about) — but that doesn’t mean they didn’t miss an item or two.

Under the heading of “Confirmed” facts about the film, UGO’s roundup reports that in “an exclusive comic book released with the Wal-Mart deluxe DVD version of Iron Man, Howard Stark created the technology for the shield, and Stark used a discarded prototype to help design the alloy used for his armor.”

This would seem to corroborate some of our own theories about Captain America’s origins and the role of Tony Stark’s father, Howard. Back in September, we even spoke to “Iron Man” writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby about the connection between Howard Stark and Captain America, and they told us that the story of Tony’s dad was “too interesting to walk away from” in future films — among other hints about the character they shared with MTV.

It’s also worth noting that recent rumors have actor Tim Robbins pegged to play Howard Stark in “Iron Man 2.” Given Marvel’s propensity for cross-pollinating characters (and the actors who play them), even the decades that separate the settings of “Captain America” and “Iron Man 2” might not prevent us from seeing the same actor play Stark in both films — especially with such an accomplished actor as Robbins playing the role.

Animated shorts abound at Utah's Slamdance Fest

Emerging talent just isn't confined to narrative and documentary feature films.

As Park City, Utah's Slamdance Film Festival celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, 86 short films in four different competition categories -- documentary, narrative/experimental, animation and music video, which is a new classification this year -- will be showcased and be eligible for a Grand Jury Award.

Here's the rundown of animated shorts in competition at Slamdance, which runs from January 15 to 23. All films are 2008 releases:

5 (3 min.; United Kingdom)
Graeme Hawkins, Writer/Director/Producer
North American Premiere
The five senses through the eyes and imagination of a young boy.

The Adventures of Ledo and Ix (5 min.; U.S.A.)
Emily Carmichael, Writer/Director
World Premiere
Two 8-bit video game characters confront the void.

Alice's Attic (4 min.; U.S.A.)
Robyn Yannoukos, Writer/Director; Brian LoSchiavo, Writer
World Premiere
A fragile Alice tries to overcome the fears that overwhelm her.

Dear Fatty (7 min.; U.S.A.)
Hsin-I Tseng, Writer/Director
A little girl writes a letter to her pet hamster Fatty.

ELA, In Love At First Byte (11 min.; Argentina)
Fernando Sarmiento, Director/Producer; Alejandro Sarmiento and J.F. Mackeprang, Writers
North American Premiere
In an action-packed adventure of epic proportions, we follow the final adventure of E.L.A. Young Warrior Princess, forced to finally face her darkest nemesis and save Earth from total destruction.

Flute Babies (5 min.; U.S.A.)
Gretta Johnson, Writer/Director/Producer
Utah Premiere
A lonely alligator and an imaginative cat are introduced.

Forestry (4 min.; Japan)
Woodpecker, Writer/Director/Producer
World Premiere
The story of the mischief of the forest.

Kanizsa Hill (8 min.; U.S.A.)
Evelyn Lee, Writer/Director
North American Premiere
A forgetful body desperately searches for his head as the two find themselves lost in an oasis of illusions.

Seeking You (3 min.; Canada)
Jean-Julien Pous, Writer/Director
North American Premiere
A man wanders through the night in Hong Kong.

Swimming Moon (4 min.; U.S.A.)
Nahomi Maki, Writer/Director/Producer
Utah Premiere
A being is driven to madness by the full moon, discovering a sensitive, beautiful, and deep dream world.

Suncrow (4 min.; United Kingdom)
Martin Falconer, Writer/Director/Producer
International Premiere
A young fledgling makes an extraordinary first flight.

Trepan Hole (6 min.; U.S.A.)
Andy Cahill, Writer/Director/Producer
A film about spastic movement and concentric circles.

Undone (7 min.; U.S.A.)
Hayley Morris, Writer/Director/Producer
Regional Premiere
An old man floats in the sea of his diminishing mind.

An Unquiet Mind (6 min.; U.S.A./Taiwan)
Chihwen Lo, Writer/Director/Producer
A mercurial journey of mood swings and deep restlessness.

All accepted entries have been selected to screen by the Shorts Programming Committee, which is comprised primarily of Slamdance alumni filmmakers.

Slamdance continues to be the pre-eminent film festival whose sole mission is to nurture, support and showcase truly independent works, having established a unique reputation for premiering new films by first-time writers and directors working within the creative confines of limited budgets. Some notable alumni to come out of Slamdance's previous shorts lineups include Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees), Mike Mitchell (Shrek Goes Fourth), Seth Gordon (Four Christmases), Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite), Matt Nix (Burn Notice) and Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom).

As it does every year, Slamdance will run concurrently with the Sundance Film Festival. Slamdance and the box office will be headquartered and films will screen at the Treasure Mountain Inn, 255 Main Street, Park City, Utah, headquarters since 1998.

For more information and for a complete listing of films in the Festival, visit or call (323) 466-1786. Festival passes and individual tickets are on sale on the Web site.

Time Warner Cable and Viacom Avoid Channel Blackout

A conflict between Time-Warner Cable and Viacom over subscription fees was resolved at the last minute, ensuring that MTV Networks would stay on the air, including the many Nickelodeon channels and Comedy Central. The corporate brinksmanship in the conflict led to last-minute threats that these networks would go off the air for Time Warner cable TV customers on January 1, 2009.


Via Anime News Network

On December 10, the January issue of Gakken's Animedia magazine published a quote from the Sunrise anime studio's Code Geass unit for its New Year's feature, "2009 Love & Beef" (2009 in the Year of the Ox):

All of you have shown us much appreciation and made the DVDs as well as the CDs so popular. Really, we have been blessed with fervent fans…. Thank you very much. Like we have said before, [a major character development happened] but Geass cannot die. It just ended, but we think it would be nice if we can still do something more. In any case, when we can announce something, in the not-so-distant future…

The second Gurren Lagann movie Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Rasen-hen will open in Japanese theatres on April 25th.

The 10th anniversary of One Piece anime will be marked with an anime movie tentatively titled "One Piece 10th."

Via Anime Vice

Rieko Yoshihara and Katsumi Michihara's sci-fi yaoi Ai no Kusabi will be adapted into a new 13 volume OVA, directed by Katsuhito Akiyama (El Hazard, Bubblegum Crisis). The novels were previously adaptation into a 1992, two episode OVA.

Manga club based 4 panel (4Koma) comic strip Yurumeitsu will be adapted into an anime series. As well supernatural relationship comedy Sora no Otoshimono

Anime on DVD reports that the Japanese branch of Geneon Entertainment has begun promoting Blu-ray releases of To Aru Majutsu no Index, Kemeko DX, ef, Casshern Sins and the Tenchi Muyo movies. The Tenchi sci-fi relationship comedy movies will be released in on 03/25/2009 and feature English language dubs and subtitles

Anime x Games

Anime and manga based on the Sakura Taisen alternate history strategy RPG/dating sim games have been released in North America, but the games themselves have never been localized. Now, it seems like Sakura Taisen (or Wars) IV may be on its way.

ICV2 reports that Pokemon USA has announced that the Pokemon TCG: Platinum will be released February 11th with theme decks and boosters, containing 130 cards.

Pokemon USA is planning Platinum Prerelease Tournaments for the weekends of January 31st to February 1st and February 7-8.

Fist of the North Star Movie Returns

Discotek Media's blog has announced

We’re starting with the ultimate ass kicking anime classic The Fist of the North Star movie! The bilingual release will be out this coming May under the Eastern Star side label.

Toyoo Ashida's 1986 anime features tells an abridged version of the classic shounen manga about a material artist wandering the wastelands, causing foes bodies to explode by punching their pressure points.

"Coraline" Exhibit at Cartoon Art Museum; Figure Images Released

The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco will be hosting an exhibition of original art from the movie Coraline, courtesy of Laika Animation Studios. The exhibition will include "drawings, storyboards, puppets, sets, costumes and more" from the movie. The movie opens on February 6, 2009.

Elsewhere, Neil Gaiman has posted several images of Coraline figures on his weblog, including several of the title character.

Mary Poppins 45th Anniversary DVD Arrives January 27, 2009

On January 27, 2009, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment will release a new 2-disc special edition DVD of Mary Poppins to commemorate the movie's 45th anniversary. The major new special feature on this edition is a look at the making of the Mary Poppins stage musical; several other features were also on the 40th anniversary DVD, including an audio commentary track by Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice and Richard Sherman, a bonus short "The Cat that Looked at a King" based on a chapter of P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins Opens the Door, and a deleted song "Chimpanzoo" performed by co-composer Richard Sherman.

The DVD will have a suggested retail price of $29.99 ($35.99 in Canada).

"The Art of Bolt" takes a look at how things have changed at Walt Disney Animation Studios

Jim Hill reviews Mark Cotta Vaz's latest volume, which goes behind-the-scenes on Disney's newest animated feature

Let's start with the obvious: 2008 was an absolute dog of a year. One that most of us will be happy to leave behind.

But that said, there were a few things that were worth remembering about 2008. And one of them was a cute little cartoon dog called Bolt.

Okay. So "Bolt" wasn't exactly a world beater at the box office (A topic we'll be discussing in great depth here at JHM next week). But there's enough right about this Chris Williams & Byron Howard film to signal -- just as "The Great Mouse Detective" did back in July of 1986 -- that Walt Disney Animation Studios is finally, truly on the mend. And that great things may lie just beyond the horizon.

Copyright 2008 Disney / Chronicle Books, LLC

Which is why it's fascinating to read Mark Cotta Vaz's "The Art of Bolt" (Chronicle Books, October 2008). Which reveals that -- a year ago -- "more than 90 percent of the movie still needed to be animated."

Of course, the reason for that is -- back in January of 2006 -- John Lasseter & Ed Catmull pulled the plug on "American Dog," the original version of this WDAS production. They then replaced Chris Sanders with Chris Williams & Byron Howard, who did a floor-to-ceiling makeover of the project.

Oh sure. "Bolt" retained Sanders' basic premise for this animated feature (i.e. a TV show dog gets lost in the real world) as well as the painterly look that art director Paul Felix had created for this animated feature. But beyond that, this was a whole new movie that still had to meet "American Dog" 's Thanksgiving 2008 release date.

Me personally, I wish that "The Art of Bolt" had done a better job of discussing what actually happened with "American Dog." Why exactly Lasseter & Catmull felt it was necessary to remove Sanders. But Vaz quickly blows by this obviously awkward moment in this production's history. Using a single sentence to say that " ... story problems led (John & Ed) to call a halt to the production," and then never touches on this issue again.

But barring that one unfortunate oversight, "The Art of Bolt" is a really terrific book. Loaded with wonderful pieces of concept art that shows how Williams & Howard quickly changed their title character from this Chris Sanders-esque sort of dog ...

Copyright 2008 Disney / Chronicle Books, LLC

... exploring all sorts of looks & styles ...

Copyright 2008 Disney / Chronicle Books, LLC

... before finally settling on their own distinctive Hollywood hound.

Copyright 2008 Disney / Chronicle Books, LLC

Chris & Byron had similar problems trying to get a handle on Penny, "Bolt" 's heroine ...

Copyright 2008 Disney / Chronicle Books, LLC

... before they finally came up with a little girl who could win the heart of the film's title character as well as the audience.

Copyright 2008 Disney / Chronicle Books, LLC

Vaz does a pretty thorough job with "The Art of Bolt." Touching on virtually every aspect of this WDAS production. Everything from the film's color keys ...

Copyright 2008 Disney / Chronicle Books, LLC

... to an overview of Sovereign Studios. Which Disney artists used as they blocked out this animated feature's fire-filled finale.

Copyright 2008 Disney / Chronicle Books, LLC

What's really neat about a book like this is -- if you read it really closely -- you then discover all sorts of intriguing things about the movie in question.

Take -- for example -- the studio layout drawing above. If you look carefully at both the water tower as well as one of the soundstages in the above image, you'll see that Williams & Howard originally toyed with calling Bolt's TV show, "Omega Dog."

As you read "The Art of Bolt," you'll also learn about entire sequences that were cut out of "Bolt." Like a dramatic dog fight in Las Vegas that was originally supposed to be the moment in this movie where Bolt realized that he had no super powers.

Copyright 2008 Disney / Chronicle Books, LLC

There are all sorts of fun facts to be found in "The Art of Bolt." Like Joe Moshier (i.e. the film's lead character designer)'s inspiration for Penny's agent.

"I studied sharks when I was developing Penny's agent. Human eyes sit forward on the face so I slightly rotated his eyes back to give him a more shark-like quality. I wanted to communicate visually that you shouldn't trust this guy."

But at the same time, Vaz talks about how the new heads of WDAS pushed "Bolt" 's production team to keep their movie grounded in reality. As Clark Spencer, "Bolt" 's producer explained:

"A fundamental idea of this film was (that) this girl and dog have been put in a Hollywood world that probably isn't right for them. But how do you realize that innocence is being lost without having Penny surrounded by 'evil' people? John Lasseter pushed us toward believability and it wasn't believable to say everyone in Hollywood is evil."

It's these sorts of insights into this WDAS production that make "The Art of Bolt" the type of book that every Disneyana / animation fan should pick up. Just so they can get some sense of how much things have changed at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Cab Calloway in Cartoons

In case you were wondering if anyone has started archiving all the caricatures of Cab Calloway in classic Hollywood cartoons… I suggest you check the amazing French language Hi-De-Ho Blog. Among its treasures are links and frame grabs to Calloway’s many animated homages. His Max Fleischer cartoons are curiously missing, but that aside I highly recommend a visit to this terrific tribute site. (Google offers an English translation of the site here.)

(Thanks, Will Friedwald)

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Actor Pat Hingle, 84, played Commissioner Gordon

Veteran actor Pat Hingle, who played Commissioner Gordon in the Batman movies, died Saturday night at 84.

Hingle was the narrator of Don Bluth's 1988 animated feature film The Land Before Time, doubling as the voice of Rooter, an old Sauropelta who briefly met Littlefoot, the "Longneck" and main character of the movie.

He was one of only two actors to appear in all of the first four Batman films. The other was Michael Gough, who portrayed Alfred.

Hingle died at his Carolina Beach, North Carolina home shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, family spokeswoman Michelle Seidman said. Hingle's wife since 1979, the former Julia "Julie" Wright, was with him, she added.

According to Seidman, Hingle had fought multiple health problems over the last several years.

A Carolina Beach resident for over 15 years, Hingle decided to live in the coastal town after shooting the movie Maximum Overdrive in the area in 1986, Seidman said.

Hingle was in in movies and television for six decades.

He also was in over 20 Broadway plays. In 1958, he was nominated for the Tony Award as best supporting or featured actor (dramatic) for The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.

Four plays in which he appeared, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, J.B., That Championship Season and Strange Interlude, won Pulitzer Prizes.

Born Martin Patterson Hingle on July 19, 1924 in Miami, Florida, he entered the University of Texas in 1941 on a tuba scholarship, but majored in advertising.

After serving in the United States Navy during the Second World War, he returned to the university and became got involved with the drama department. He later moved to New York, where he began to get jobs on the stage and television.

Hingle's first movie role was an uncredited appearance as Jocko in 1954's On the Waterfront. His final role was as the Judge in Undoing Time (2008).

Other films included Splendor in the Grass (1961), Hang 'Em High (1968), The Gauntlet (1978), Norma Rae (1979), The Falcon and the Snowman (1985), The Grifters (1990) and The Quick and the Dead (1995). He was a cast member of the 1988 TV miniseries War and Remembrance.

His first of many TV appearances was a live 30-minute version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Hingle made command performances at the White House and the Library of Congress.

His first marriage, to Alyce Faye Dorsey in 1947, ended in divorce.

Pat Hingle had three children -- Jody, Billy and Molly -- with his first wife, as well as two with his second. Besides his children and second wife, he is survived by two sisters and 11 grandchildren.

A service to celebrate Hingle's life will be held at a later date.

National critics pick "Waltz" as best film of '08

The National Society of Film Critics named pioneering animated documentary Waltz With Bashir as the best picture of 2008 on Saturday.

An Israeli-German-French co-production, Waltz With Bashir examines the Israeli war with Lebanon in 1982. It was directed by Ari Folman and released by Sony Pictures Classics.

Using animated interviews, dreams and flashbacks, it follows the attempts by Folman -- a former Israeli soldier -- to retrieve his own lost memories about a wartime massacre.

Pixar-Disney's WALL•E tied with the live-action British comedy Happy-Go-Lucky as the National Society's runner-up for the best picture of the year.

Released by Miramax, Happy-Go-Lucky received the most awards. Mike Leigh won for both best director and best screenplay. Sally Hawkins was named best actress, while Eddie Marsan was named best supporting actor.

The National Society of Film Critics was the last major group of critics to name its choice of the year's best films.

Made up of 63 critics from across the United States, the National Society held its annual awards meeting at Sardi's Restaurant in New York. Forty-nine members voted, using a weighted ballot system. Scrolls will be sent to the winners.

The National Society of Film Critics includes members from major newspapers in Los Angeles, Boston, New York and Chicago, as well as from Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker and The group often picks different films from those chosen by Oscar voters.

New Astro Boy Artwork

Imagi has posted this new artwork from Astro Boy on its official website. Summit Entertainment will release the big screen adaptation, directed by David Bowers, on October 23. It is voiced by Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy, Eugene Levy, Matt Lucas and Freddie Highmore.

(Thanks Superherp Hype)

Gone to Cartoon Heaven: In Memoriam 2008

Once again, we remember the many voice actors, directors, writers and other creative people who were responsible for animated films and TV shows, and who left us in the past year.

Jim Snider
Breakdown animator and inbetween artist for several Disney features. Characters included Grandmother Willow in Pocahontas
(1993), Frollo in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996), Mushu in Mulan (1998), and Clayton in Tarzan (1999).

January 2
Joyce Carlson, 84
Disney artist who helped bring the singing children of "It's a Small World"
to life. A former inker for animated Disney features (The Three Caballeros, Victory Through Air Power, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty), she was lead ink artist for the 1955 classic Lady and the Tramp.
Brice Mack, 90
Background painter for Walt Disney who wrote for several of the studio's shorts as well. First credited as an artist for the "Rite of Spring"
background of Fantasia (1940), he continued with many Disney features, including Pinocchio, Song Of The South, Fun & Fancy Free and Melody Time.

January 4
Mort Garson, 83
Arranger and accompanist, co-writer of the hit song "Our Day Will Come."
The Canadian-born Garson provided the music for the 1975 CBS animated special The 2000 Year Old Man, based on the classic Mel Brooks-Carl Reiner comedy routine.

January 6
Marty Links, 90

Creator of the comic strip
Emmy Lou
and one of the National Cartoonists' Society's first female members. Emmy Lou was seen as a segment of the Filmation cartoon shows Archie's T.V. Funnies (CBS, 1971) and The Fabulous Funnies (NBC, 1978). Jayne Hamil voiced the teenager.

January 11
Pete Candoli, 84

Preeminent jazz trumpeter, a member of the Dixieland sextet that played on DePatie-Freleng Enterprises'
The Ant and the Aardvark cartoons. Though uncredited, he and his fellow musicians were also heard in the 1969 Pink Panther cartoon Extinct Pink.
Sir Edmund Hillary, 88

Modest New Zealand beekeeper who gained world fame by conquering Mount Everest. His adventure was told in
"Hillary And Mount Everest," a 1972 episode of M.G. Animation's TV series The Wonderful Stories Of Professor Kitzel.

January 17
Allan Melvin, 84

TV character actor, the voice of the title primate in the 1960s Hanna-Barbera series Magilla Gorilla
. Known for decades for his second banana and sidekick roles on live-action sitcoms, he also voiced Bluto and Wimpy on Hanna-Barbera's Popeye and Son series.
Suzanne Pleshette, 70
Beautiful, deep-voiced actress who was Bob Newhart's sharp-tongued wife Emily Hartley on The Bob Newhart Show
. She voiced Zira in Disney's video sequel The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998), as well as Yubaba and Zeniba in Spirited Away. Was also in live-action Disney comedies.
Jinzo Toriumi, 78
Screenwriter who planned and wrote such anime series as
Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
and Yatterman. A novelist as well, he worked for Tatsunoko Production until the late 1970s. His work in animation scripting began in 1964 at Mushi Productions for Mighty Atom (Astro Boy).

January 18
Lois Nettleton
Veteran actress long seen on Broadway, in movies and TV. Nettleton voiced Malificent in the 2002 direct-to-video movie House Of Mouse: The Villains
, repeating the role in four House of Mouse episodes. She voiced Nora in the Spider-Man: The Animated Series episodes "Day Of The Chameleon" (1995) and "Partners In Dangers, Chapter II: The Cat" (1997).

January 20
Robert Cunniff, 81

Emmy-winning TV writer and producer who created Disney's
Mouseterpiece Theater. In 1984, Cunniff created, produced and co-wrote the hit Disney Channel series, which featured vintage Disney cartoon shorts. George Plimpton hosted the deadpan parody of Masterpiece Theater.

January 27
Al Stetter, 100
Layout artist on ABC's 1963 Beany and Cecil
series. He worked at Snowball Studios, which co-produced Beany and Cecil with Bob Clampett Productions. He was an animator and assistant animator for Snowball and Disney from 1937 until his retirement in 1973.

January 28
Dwight Hemion, 81

TV producer-director who held a record 47 Emmy nominations. Responsible for the 1981 Disneyland biography
Walt Disney: One Man's Dream, Hemion was executive producer of Nelvana's notorious The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978), which included an animated sequence.
Mary Ruth Smith, 57
Sound editor for such productions as Filmation Associates' 1985
A Christmas Special (aka He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special). Smith shared a 1986 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series in connection with an episode of Hill Street Blues.

January 29
Gordon Bellamy, 70

Animation artist, unit supervisor for Ruby-Spears Productions' 1980s series
Alvin and the Chipmunks. An assistant animator on Warner Bros. feature films Space Jam, Quest For Camelot and The Iron Giant. He also rendered the design for kids' commercial favorite "Mr. Bubble."

February 2
Barry Morse, 89

British-Canadian character actor who portrayed Lt. Gerard, the pursuer of Dr. Richard Kimball (David Janssen) in TV's
The Fugitive
. He had the title role in The Railway Dragon (1991) and The Birthday Dragon (1992), two half-hour cartoon specials from Lacewood Productions.
Gus Arriola, 90
Mexican-American cartoonist, creator of pioneering comic strip Gordo
. After high school, he got a job animating Krazy Kat at Mintz Studio. Later, he did story-sketch work for Tom and Jerry cartoons at MGM, where he met his wife of almost 65 years

February 4
Maggie Ostroff, 73
Assistant sound editor whose films included the 1988 Disney feature Oliver & Company. Ostroff represented assistant editors on the board of directors of The Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700), serving for over 10 years.

February 6
Phyllis Barnhart, 85

A painter for several animation studios, her career began at Disney. She was a cel painter for Don Bluth Productions' 1982 feature film
The Secret Of NIMH. She also worked for Filmation, DePatie-Freleng, Bandolier Films and Hanna-Barbera.

February 9
Robert DoQui, 74
Stage, screen and TV actor whose rough-edged character roles included Sgt. Warren Reed in three Robocop
movies. He voiced Pablo Robinson in Hanna-Barbera's The Harlem Globetrotters (1970-71), and was often in the voice cast of H-B's The New Scooby-Doo Movies.

February 10
Roy Scheider, 75
Stage and screen actor best known for his role as agonized Police Chief Martin Brody in Steven Spielberg's 1975 breakthrough hit Jaws
. He had a guest voice as himself in the 2007 Family Guy episode "Bill And Peter's Bogus Journey."
Steve Gerber, 60

Creator of the iconic comic book
Howard the Duck and writer for several cartoon series. Gerber served as chief story editor on G.I. Joe and Dungeons & Dragons, and won an Emmy for his work as staff writer on The Batman/Superman Adventures.

February 12
Vernon "Vern" Chapman, 84

Longtime actor and director, chair of the Canadian Actors' Equity Association for five terms (from 1967 to 1970 and again in 1974). Chapman provided the voice of Jeeves-like butler Nestor in the 1991 Nelvana series
The Adventures of Tintin.

February 13
Henry Salvador, 90

The first singer to sing rock and roll songs in France (under the name Henry Cording). He voiced the lead character in the French dub of the 2005 British cartoon movie
Sprung! The Magic Roundabout. He also released French-language Disney children's albums.
Kon Ichikawa, 92
Japanese director whose films such as
Harp of Burma
and Tokyo Olympiad combined artistry and humanism. He had a long career in animation, directing the anime film The Tale of Genji (1966) and Firebird: Daybreak Chapter (1978).
Lionel Mark Smith, 62

Character actor, part of David Mamet's stock company for stage and screen productions. He was the voice of the bus driver in
"Robin's Reckoning: Part 2," a 1993 episode of Batman: The Animated Series, and the SWAT captain in "Shadows," a 2001 episode of Warner Bros.' The Zeta Project.

February 15
Jim Begg, 69

Made-for-TV movie producer, a voice actor in several cartoon series as well. Begg was the voice of Scoots in the 1969 Hanna-Barbera series
Cattanooga Cats
. He provided additional voices in 1979's Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, and was Wheelie in Bailey's Comets.

February 17
Harry Martin, 81

Sacramento, California personality who screened Bugs Bunny cartoons as part of his title role on the 1950s and 1960s
Captain Sacto kids show. From 1956 to 1963 on KCRA-TV 3, he broadcast live in a secret airfield somewhere west of town in a mysterious underground laboratory.

February 18
Alain Robbe-Grillet, 85

French writer who pioneered the
"new novel" genre in the 1950s; associated with "New Wave" films. He was a screenwriter for Raoul Servais' partly computer-animated French feature film Taxandria (1994), which won awards at fantasy film festivals around the world.

February 19
Eugene Freedman, 82

Creator of the teardrop-eyed porcelain Precious Moments figurines. The characters appeared in two Rick Reinert Pictures cartoon specials:
Timmy's Gift: A Precious Moments Christmas Story
(1991), and Little Sparrow: A Precious Moments Thanksgiving Special (1995).

February 21
Don Sheppard, 91

TV story artist and director who worked at Hanna-Barbera and many other cartoon studios. He also worked for Disney, Warner Bros., UPA, etc. from 1955 until 1990, when he was a storyboard artist for H-B's
Jetsons: The Movie.

February 24
June Myung Nam, 44

Cleanup artist, an assistant animator for the title character in DreamWorks'
Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron (2002). Also known as June Nam and Myung Nam Park, she was a breakdown artist for the title character in DreamWorks' Sinbad: Legend Of The Seven Seas (2003).

February 26
Buddy Miles, 60
Rock and R&B drummer whose varied roles included serving as Buddy Raisin, lead voice of the California Raisins in TV commercials. The four singing and dancing Claymation figures became hugely popular advertising mascots in the late 1980s.
Bodil Udsen, 83
Danish actress known in her country as
"Theatre's Grand Old Lady."
She had several voice roles in Danish animated feature films, including Samson's mother in 1984's Samson og Sally (Samson and Sally).

February 28
Mike Smith, 64
Organist and lead singer of British Invasion group The Dave Clark Five. The Five's performance of "Glad All Over,"
co-written by Smith, was heard on the soundtrack of the partly animated 2006 Fox sequel Garfield: A Tail Of Two Kitties. The song featured Smith's lead vocals.

Dodie Roberts, 88

Longtime Disney employee, supervisor of the studio's paint lab from 1972 to 1984. In 2000, she was inducted as a Disney Legend. Her sole screen credit was as a member of the paint lab for the 1985 feature film
The Black Cauldron.

March 3
Taichiro Hirokawa, 68

Japanese voice actor who dubbed British actor Roger Moore in James Bond movies. He had voice roles in numerous anime films and series. He voiced Arsene Lupin III in the Cinemascope version of 1969's
Rupan sansei: Pilot Film (Lupin III: Pilot Film).

March 4
E. Gary Gygax, 69

The father of the fantasy role-playing game, he co-created
Dungeons & Dragons
. Gygax was a producer and writer for the Marvel Productions, Ltd. cartoon series Dungeons & Dragons, which aired on CBS in 1983-84.
Leonard Rosenman, 83
Movie composer of the 1950s and 1960s, Rosenman won two Oscars and two Emmys. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his music for the 1978 animated version of
The Lord Of The Rings, co-produced by Fantasy Films and Saul Zaentz Production Company.

March 6
Gloria Shayne Regney Baker, 85

Co-composer of the Christmas song
"Do You Hear What I Hear?"
and other classics. As Gloria Shayne, she provided the music for the song. "Do You Hear What I Hear" was performed by a chorus in The Little Drummer Boy, Book II, a 1976 Rankin-Bass Productions special.

March 8
John Henry Kurtz, 62

Best known for his multi-talented voice on Broadway and TV, he was the announcer and voice of NBC Nightly News, Court TV, numerous commercials and several other shows. He guested on four episodes of Nick, Jr.'s
Little Bill as a baseball announcer and TV news announcer.
Richard DeRoy, 77
Twilight Zone
and Hawaii Five-O writer, author of the screenplay for Warner Bros.' partly animated Philbert (Three's A Crowd) as a proposed ABC series. When ABC canceled all Warner Bros. Programming for the network, Philbert was released theatrically as a featurette.

March 10
Dave Stevens, 52

Illustrator, creator of
The Rocketeer and repopularizer of 1950s pin-up girl Bettie Page. Stevens was a storyboard artist and story director for the 1978 Hanna-Barbera series Jana of the Jungle. He was a story director for H-B's Godzilla, released the same year.

March 11
Vivian Byrne, 95
Animation painter and union activist. From 1955 until her retirement in 1975, she worked for Warner Bros., Walter Lantz Productions, Filmation Associates and Hanna-Barbera Productions. She served several terms as a executive board member for The Animation Guild.

March 12
Jorge Guinzburg, 59

Journalist and humorist, one of Argentina's most famous and beloved TV personalities. He had second billing as the voice of Farfan in the 2007 film
El Arca, nominated by the Argentinean Film Critics Association for the Silver Condor for best animated feature.

March 18
Justin Wright, 27
Storyboard artist who worked on the 2D line drawings featured in the end titles of Pixar's Ratatouille
. Wright, who died of a heart attack, was born with a number of heart defects. He was working on a new animated short that was released with WALL-E in theaters.

March 19
Arthur C. Clarke, 90
Futuristic science fiction writer who gained international fame with over 100 books on space and science. Partly inspired by his novel Deep Range
, the Toei Company made three 1965 pilot episodes of the anime series Dolphin Prince -- remade the next year as Marine Boy.
Paul Scofield, 86
One of Britain's greatest Shakespearean actors, he won an Oscar as Tudor statesman Sir Thomas More for his role in
A Man For All Seasons. Scofield was in the voice cast of Rashi: A Light After the Dark Ages, a 1999 British-Israeli-Bulgarian animated feature.

March 20
Brian Wilde, 80

Actor well-known for his work in British sitcoms, but equally at home in dramas. He voiced Meredith in the 1985 Cosgrove Hall Productions cartoon series
Alias the Jester, which aired on ITV, and was the narrator of Tony Garth's 1997 series Microscopic Milton.

March 21
Raymond Leblanc, 92

Belgian publisher, producer of several animated films starring comic-book characters Tintin and Asterix. Films included the
Lucky Luke movie Daisy Town (1971), Asterix and Cleopatra (1968), Tintin and the Temple of the Sun (1969), Tintin and the Lake of Sharks (1972).

March 25
Tony Church, 77

British actor, a founding member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and dean of the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, Colorado. As the voice of the Third Civil Servant, Church worked with John Hurt and Nigel Hawthorne in the 1982 feature film
The Plague Dogs.

March 28
Mary Morter, 83
Montreal actress involved in numerous theater, stage and TV roles since arriving in Canada in the late 1950s from her native Britain. She guested in two 1999 episodes of Telescene's Student Bodies, a partly animated teenage sitcom that aired on Canada's YTV network.

March 29
Lyn Kroeger, 77
nbetweener and assistant animator at Disney and other studios. She started at Disney in 1954 as an inbetweener on the feature film Lady And The Tramp, released the following year. Kroeger was among the first women to break the gender barrier to get artistic jobs at Disney.

April 2
Mona Seilitz, 65
Swedish actress and entertainer, the voice of Prillan in the Pettson och Findus
film trilogy. She was in the cast of Happy Life Animation's Pettson och Findus - katten och gubbens år (1999), Pettson och Findus - Kattonauten (2000) and Pettson och Findus 3: Tomtemaskinen (2005).

April 5
Charlton Heston, 84

The winner of the 1959 best actor Oscar as chariot-racing
. Starred as Moses in Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 Biblical extravaganza The Ten Commandments. With a booming baritone voice, he narrated several animated productions, such as the 1997 Disney feature film Hercules.

April 6
Yasunori Kawauchi, 88
One of Japan's most prominent action and science-fiction screenwriters. He executive produced Ai Planning Centre's 1975 anime series Manga Nihon Mukashibanashi
, also known as Japanese Folk Tales and Manga Japanese Folk Tales, and still running in 2001 after 1,255 episodes.

April 7
Andrei Tolubeyev, 63

A veteran of over 50 leading and supporting roles in Soviet and Russian films. He voiced greedy bandit Solovey Razboynik in his sole work in animation, the 2007 feature film
Ilya Muromets i Solovey Razboynik, released by Melnitsa Animation Studio and Kinokompaniya CTB.

April 8
Seaman Jacobs, 96

Award-winning TV comedy writer who penned episodes of several Hanna-Barbera series. The prolific writer's series included
Inch High Private Eye
and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids (both 1973), as well as Hong Kong Phooey (1974).

April 10
Nina Schulman

Emmy Award-winning film editor, producer and director. She edited the 1987 Bill Plympton Studios short
Drawing Lesson #2, which won First Prizes for Story + Concept at ASIFA New York.
Andy Knight, 46

Veteran animator and director, the co-founder of Toronto-based animation studio Red Rover. He was long associated with Walt Disney Studios. In 1998, he was nominated for a directing Annie for the direct-to-video
Beauty And The Beast: The Enchanted Christmas.
Etsuko Fujioka, 83

Cel painter who worked for Duck Soup, Murakami-Wolf, Filmation, Disney and Hanna-Barbera from 1976 until 1994. A graphic artist for the 1977 Sanrio Films feature
The Mouse And His Child, Fujioka was a painter for the 1989 Disney film The Little Mermaid.

April 11
Irma Rosien, 90

Assistant layout supervisor at Filmation from 1972 until her retirement in 1987. She was an interior designer and oil painter before becoming a live-action studio illustrator in the 1960s. Rosien worked as a Hanna-Barbera background and layout artist before heading to Filmation.

April 14
Ollie Johnston, 95

The last of Walt Disney's
"Nine Old Men,"
the hand-picked artists and animators who worked with Disney during the studio's golden age. Johnston animated such memorable relationships as that of Baloo and Mowgli in The Jungle Book and Sir Hiss and Prince John in Robin Hood (1973).

April 15
Benoît Lamy, 62

Belgian motion picture writer-director whose debut film,
Home Sweet Home, met with international success. Lamy co-directed the 1972 animated film Cartoon Circus with Jean-Paul "Picha" Walravens, which marked the directorial debut of "Picha."

April 16
Dalton B. Sandifer, 89
Animation writer who had a career that spanned many decades in animation, working first with Walter Lantz, and then in the mid-1960s, moving over to Hanna-Barbera. Series included Atom Ant, Hillbilly Bears, Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch, Dynomutt
and Wacky Races.

April 24
Jimmy Giuffre, 86

Jazz instrumentalist, composer, arranger and saxophone and clarinet player. Giuffre, who recorded over 33 albums as a leader, composed the song "The 4 Gangsters" for the 1986 animated feature
, known in English as Cat City.
Tristram Cary, 82
Classic series composer, a world pioneer in electronic and tape music. He composed for many British animated shorts. He scored the animated version of A Christmas Carol (1971), which won an Academy Award in 1973 for Best Short Subject, Animated Films.

April 28
Jack Hanrahan, 75

Emmy-winning TV writer
(Rowan & Martin's Laugh In)
who turned homeless and destitute. A scriptwriter for such TV cartoon shows as Inspector Gadget and The Care Bears. His work in cartoon writing went all the way back to Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles (1966).

May 3
Ted Key, 95
Cartoonist, creator of time-traveling dog scientist Peabody and his boy Sherman. Peabody and Sherman f
irst appeared in the "Peabody's Improbable History" segment of Jay Ward's Rocky and His Friends in 1959. Also created the Saturday Evening Post cartoon maid Hazel.

May 8
Dorothy Green, 88

TV actress, an original cast member of CBS soap opera
The Young and the Restless
and longtime guest performer on 1950s and 1960s prime-time series. Green voiced Miss Pine in the 1974 Lee Mendelson-Bill Melendez special Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus.

May 11
Richard Towne "Dick" Sutcliffe, 90
Uncredited creator of the stop-action Davey and Goliath
. Sutcliffe, then the director of Lutheran radio and TV ministry in New York, worked with Clokey Productions (creators of The Gumby Show) to develop a Sunday series that provided a message of faith "without being preachy."

May 13
John Phillip Law, 70
Tall, blond stage and screen actor who co-starred as the blind angel opposite Jane Fonda in 1968's Barbarella
. Law guested in Spider-Man: The Animated Series as the Cat/John Hardesky in "Partners In Dangers, Chapter II: The Cat" and "Partners In Danger, Chapter III: The Black Cat."

May 15
Alexander Courage, 88
Composer of the famed original Star Trek
theme and orchestrator for the 1988 Disney animated feature film Mulan. In 1999, Hank Azaria performed the Star Trek theme in the Simpsons episode "They Saved Lisa's Brain" as "I Am Smart, Much Smarter than You, Hibbert."

May 17
Page Hearn, 48
Stage actor, the voice of Fidgel the scientist penguin in several 3-2-1 Penguins
animated videos from Big Idea Productions. The 3-2-1 Penguins series offered a Christian message. He was also the longtime managing director of Chicago's City Lit Theater Company.

May 19
Jack Duffy, 81
Montreal-born actor and singer, narrator of the syndicated 1980 cartoon series Curious George. Directed by Alan J. Shalleck and produced in Canada, the TV series ran for 104 five-minute episodes and was broadcast on Nickelodeon, then on the Disney Channel.

May 23
Thelma "Thel" Keane, 82
Family Circus
cartoonist Bil Keane's wife and the model for the Mommy character in the long-running one-panel newspaper comic. Anne Costello voiced "Mommy" in three Family Circus cartoon specials which aired on NBC between 1978 and 1982.
David Mitton, 69
Director of over 200 episodes of the classic British animated children's series Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. A model maker and author as well, Mitton was creative director of British animation studio Pineapple Squared Entertainment at the time of his death.

May 26
Sydney Pollack, 73
Director whose 1985 period drama Out of Africa
won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. Pollack's occasional acting appearances included a guest voice shot in the 2000 King of the Hill episode "Peggy's Magic Sex Feet" as Grant Trimble, a bogus doctor.

May 28
Beryl Cook, 81
British artist famed for her colorful, humorous paintings of plus-sized, fun-loving ladies. In 2004, the British Broadcasting Corporation aired a two-part animated TV special, Bosom Pals, based on the characters that she painted.
Rose Di Bucci, 93
Worked in cel service for Hanna-Barbera, Bakshi, Disney and Kroyer from 1977 until her retirement in 1992. She worked on the Disney feature films Oliver & Company
(1988) and The Little Mermaid (1989), as well as the 1990 Disney featurette The Prince And The Pauper.

May 29
Harvey Korman, 81
Tall, skinny comedian who won four Emmys for his work on The Carol Burnett Show
and had a continuing voice role on The Flintstones as little spaceman The Great Gazoo. The 1966 animated movie The Man Called Flintstone cast Korman not as Gazoo, but as three other characters.

May 30
George Finstad

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television announcer, the first co-host of the long-running consumer series Marketplace. Finstad narrated Satellites Of The Sun (1974), an animated National Film Board of Canada documentary portraying the solar system.

June 2
Bo Diddley, 79
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer whose slamming guitar rhythm inspired countless other musicians. Bo Diddley and Billy Boy Arnold's rendition of his trademark 1955 tune "Bo Diddley"
was on the soundtrack of Ralph Bakshi's X-rated 1972 cartoon movie Fritz The Cat.
Mel Ferrer, 90
Audrey Hepburn's ex-husband co-starred with her in the 1956 epic film War and Peace
. Ferrer provided the voice of Geppetto in Pinocchio and the Golden Key, a 1998 English-language dub of the 1960 Soviet animated feature film The Adventures of Buratino.

June 8
Bob Grabeau, 79
Song director for the 1978 DePatie-Freleng Enterprises TV special
A Pink Christmas, which garnered two separate Emmy nominations. Grabeau sang
"Bella Notte"
on a 1962 Disneyland album of songs from the 1955 Disney feature film Lady and the Tramp.

June 11
James Reaney, 81
Canadian literary icon, the winner of three Governor-General's Awards for poetry and drama. A playwright, poet and professor for over 50 years, Reaney read his own poem, "Klaxon," which was animated as part of the 1977 National Film Board of Canada short Poets On Film No. 1.

June 12
Ethan Ormsby, 40
Lighting technical director for the DreamWorks feature films Flushed Away (2006) and Bee Movie
(2007). He was a digital lighter for DreamWorks' 2006 film Over The Hedge and a digital artist for the 2000 Disney feature movie Dinosaur.

June 15
Henri Labussiere, 87

Voice actor who played Le Professeur Tournesol (Professor Calculus) in the French version of Nelvana's series
The Adventures of Tintin
. He was the voice of Grandfather in Les Razmoket, the French dub of Rugrats, which aired on Nickelodeon in France.
Sydney J. Bartholomew Jr., 54
Production designer for such films as Warner Bros.' partly animated Osmosis Jones
(2001). He was the art director for the 1986-90 CBS series Pee-wee's Playhouse. His work on the kids' show earned him a shared Daytime Emmy in 1987.

June 17
Henry Beckman, 86

Canadian-born supporting actor in numerous TV series for 50 years. He was a voice actor in the 1986 National Film Board of Canada cartoon Every Dog's Guide To Complete Home Safety, which was nominated for a Genie Award, the Canadian equivalent of an Oscar.

June 21
William "Bill" Vince, 44
The only Vancouver producer ever to have made an Oscar-winning movie (the Academy Award-winning 2005 movie biography Capote
). At the time of his death, he was working on his first animation project: the British Columbia-made stop-motion fantasy feature Edison and Leo.

June 22
George Carlin, 71

Anti-establishment comedian famous for such rants as
"Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television." He narrated the American release of Britain's Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, and provided the voice of Rufus in the cartoon series Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures.
Howard Brandy, 78
Longtime public relations specialist whose square-jawed visage inspired Jay Ward's Mountie stereotype Dudley Do-Right. Brandy worked in Hollywood for nearly five decades. He became Jay Ward Productions' West Coast press agent in 1961.
Dody Goodman, 93
Deliberately ditzy comedienne, the title character's mom on the 1970s TV soap opera spoof Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
. She provided the voice of Miss Rebecca Miller, babysitter to the Chipettes, in the 1983 series Alvin and the Chipmunks and its later incarnations.

June 23
Gerard R. Salvio, 82
The second (and last) business agent for Local 841 of the New York chapter of the Screen Cartoonists Guild. A New York resident, he later served as an IATSE International representative and trustee of the New York City lab local before his retirement in 1994.

June 24
Joe LoCicero, 44

Writer and marketing consultant, author of a series of reference books based on Hanna-Barbera's classic cartoon characters and its exhaustive library of episodes. His
"Character Reference Guides" covered The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost and Yogi Bear.

June 27
Leonard Pennario, 83
Grammy-winning pianist, the soloist on the 1987 direct-to-video cartoon feature film Sparky's Magic Piano
. Pennario worked with violinist Jascha Heifetz and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. Sparky's Magic Piano also featured Lalo Schifrin conducting the Paris Philharmonic Orchestra.

June 29
Don S. Davis, 65
Veteran film and TV character actor best known for his roles as General George Hammond in Stargate SG-1
and Major Garland Briggs in Twin Peaks. He provided the voice of Wild Bill in the direct-to-video Paramount animated movie G.I. Joe: Valor Vs. Venom

July 2
Elizabeth Spriggs, 78
British stage and screen actress who portrayed the Fat Lady in 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (known in Britain as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone). She voiced Betty in the 1996 animated feature film sequel The Snow Queen's Revenge.

July 3
Larry Harmon, 83

Harmon licensed frizzy-haired
Bozo the Clown
for years to dozens of TV stations around the United States. Harmon voiced Bozo in 156 five-minute Bozo The World's Most Famous Clown cartoons syndicated through his own studio.
Harald Heide-Steen Jr., 68
Norwegian actor and comedian who won royal recognition for his work. He provided the voice of Emanuel Desperados in the 1975 Norwegian animated feature film Flåklypa Grand Prix
, also known as Hintertupfinger Grand Prix and The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix.

July 4
Thomas L. Disch, 68
Science fiction writer and poet whose children's books were adapted into the 1987 animated movie The Brave Little Toaster
and two sequels: The Brave Little Toaster Goes To Mars (1998) and the direct-to-video The Brave Little Toaster To The Rescue (1999).
Agneta Prytz, 91
Swedish dramatic actress who appeared with Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullmann in three movies which were each nominated for an Oscar for best foreign-language film. She provided the voice of Gammel-Maja in the 1985 animated movie sequel
Peter-No-Tail in Americat.

July 11
Michael "Mike" Kleinhenz, 56

Voice actor for the English dubs of numerous anime films and TV series. A voiceover artist for 25 years, he was the Father in
Slayers Return
(1996), Fatman in Spriggan (1998), and Takahashi in Parasite Dolls (2002).

July 14
Henki Kolstad, 93
One of Norway's most beloved actors, Kolstad was the voice of the Speaker in the 1975 Norwegian animated feature film Flåklypa Grand Prix
, also known as Hintertupfinger Grand Prix and The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix.

July 19
Lata Ryan, 59

An executive producer of the partly animated 20th Century Fox feature film
. Ryan worked alongside Henry Selick, who also directed the 2001 film. She was executive producer of the 2005 big-screen adaptation of the Broadway musical Rent.

July 21
Charlie "Chuck" Downs, 81

Former Disney animator, the last known living charter member of Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Local 839. He worked as a staff animator on many Disney features for nearly 10 years, assisting on
Peter Pan
and briefly animating on One Hundred And One Dalmatians.

July 22
Estelle Getty, 84

Diminutive actress famed for her role as Sophia Petrillo on the TV comedy
The Golden Girls
. She provided the voice of Mrs. Hennypecker in Harvey Fierstein's 1999 cartoon fable "The Sissy Duckling," a special episode of HBO's Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child.
Greg Burson, 59
Voice actor once considered the
"natural heir" to Hanna-Barbera roles created by Daws Butler. Once the main replacement voice of Bugs Bunny, Foghorn Leghorn, Pepe LePew and many other characters voiced by Mel Blanc. He also voiced Mr. Magoo after Jim Backus died.

July 25
Bruce Adler, 63

Comic actor who sang the opening song
"Arabian Nights"
in the 1992 Disney film Aladdin and the subsequent Disney's Aladdin: The Series. Adler was the voice of Gramps and Dick in Disney's 1991 animated film Beauty And The Beast.

August 2
Fujio Akatsuka, 72

Japanese cartoonist whose successful comedy mangas were turned into several anime series. His first big hit was turned into the 1966 anime
Young Sextuplets. It was called by the PTA "one of the worst programs ever made," which may have accounted for its success with kids.
Tadashi Hattori, 100
Japanese classical conductor whose more famous works included scores to three Akira Kurosawa films. He was a composer for several short black and white cartoons in the 1940s and early 1950s.

August 5
Robert Hazard, 59
Philadelphia-bred rock musician and songwriter, composer of the 1983 Cyndi Lauper megahit "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." The tune was performed by Theodore in the 1983 TV series Alvin & the Chipmunks
, and was heard on the 1992 Simpsons episode "Lisa's First Words."
Gary Mooney, 89
Animator whose career stretched for decades with such studios as Disney and Jay Ward. An assistant animator at Disney, Mooney was an uncredited assistant animator on the feature films Lady And The Tramp
and Sleeping Beauty.
Michael I. Silberkleit, 76
Archie Comic Publications chairman; producer and executive consultant of 1999's Sabrina, The Animated Series
, which aired on UPN. Executive producer of the 2003 DiC Entertainment series Sabrina's Secret Life, released in syndication.

August 7
Bernie Brillstein, 77
Power broker and producer who made Saturday Night Live
comedians famous. Executive producer of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, he was an executive consultant for the 1986-87 season of DiC Entertainment's cartoon follow-up The Real Ghostbusters.

August 9
Bernie Mac, 50
Actor and comedian Bernie Mac whose sitcom The Bernie Mac Show
won a Peabody Award in 2002. Mac was to have joined the cast of the DreamWorks sequel Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa as Zuba, the father of Alex (Ben Stiller) and head of the pride.

August 10
Isaac Hayes, 65
Oscar-winning singer, songwriter and musician who experienced a renaissance in 1997 as the voice of school cook and ladies' man Chef on the Comedy Partners series South Park
. He repeated the role in the 1999 film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.
Terence Rigby, 71
British actor who voiced fighting rabbit Silver in the 1978 animated feature film
Watership Down
. Active on the stage and small screen, he was best known on TV for his role as PC Snow in the 1960s and 1970s series Softly, Softly: Task Force.

August 12
William "Engineer Bill" Stulla, 97
Host of the kids' show Cartoon Express on Los Angeles station KHJ-TV 9 from 1954 to 1966. As the engineer, he showed episodes of such cheapie cartoon series as The Adventures of Spunky and Tadpole, Q.T. Hush
and Colonel Bleep.

August 15
Carlos Meglia, 50

Argentinian-Spanish comic book artist whose creation
became a Japanese anime series. One of the few Japanese anime that premiered outside the country, Cybersix first aired in Canada and didn't appear in Japan until late 2000.

August 22
Jeff MacKay, 59
American character actor, the voice of Fireflight in the 1984-87 Marvel Productions series Transformers. Familiar to television viewers since the mid-1970s, he had recurring roles in several adventure series, especially as a sidekick.
Tom Kneitel, 75
Former editor, grandson of cartoon pioneer Max Fleischer and son of Famous Studios director Seymour Kneitel. Although never receiving screen credit, he was the originator of Casper-like space visitor
Goodie the Gremlin, who appeared in five Famous Studios cartoons.

August 24
Morris F. Sullivan, 91

Co-founder of Sullivan-Bluth Studios and executive producer of
All Dogs Go to Heaven
(1989) and Rock-A-Doodle (1991). In 1984, after a few years of retirement, Sullivan applied his many years of financial expertise to establishing a world-class animation studio.

August 29
Bill Perez, 81

Producer, director, title designer, layout and storyboard artist at Hanna-Barbera and DePatie-Freleng Enterprises for 28 years. He won a Daytime Emmy in 1982 for directing the television special
The Grinch Grinches The Cat In The Hat.

August 31
Michael Pate, 88
Australian actor, writer and director well-known for his character roles in TV Western series in the United States. Pate provided the voice of Injun Joe in Burbank Films'
The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer
(1986). He was also in the voice cast of the 1983 movie The Camel Boy.
Jerry Reed, 71
Country singer, songwriter and actor famed for his hits
"When You're Hot, You're Hot"
and "Lord, Mr. Ford." Reed guested as himself in "The Phantom Of The Country Music Hall," a 1972 episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies
Eldon Rathburn, 92
The "dean of Canadian film composers" during his three decades at the National Film Board of Canada. He wrote music for hundreds of films between 1949 and 1992. His 30 animated shorts included three that were nominated for Academy Awards.

September 1
Don LaFontaine, 68
"King of the Movie Trailers"
and "The Voice of God," LaFontaine was the announcer on the Walt Disney Television Animation series Disney's Fillmore! He sometimes made fun of himself in cartoons, voicing the FOX announcer in four Family Guy episodes.

September 2
Bill Melendez, 91

Considered a pioneer in animation and best known for bringing the
Peanuts characters to life in more than 63 half-hour specials, five one-hour specials, four feature films and over 372 commercials. He began his career at Walt Disney Studios and continued at Warner Bros.

September 8
"Cousin Cliff" Holman, 79

Birmingham, Alabama TV legend who hosted such kiddie shows as
The Popeye Show
and Cousin Cliff's Clubhouse for many years. He first showed cartoon shorts starring Jay Ward's Crusader Rabbit. Later, he screened Little Lulu, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Popeye and Terrytoons shorts.

September 10
Bob Winquist, 85

Director of the California Institute of the Arts' character animation program from 1989 to 1991. Winquist taught many animators now prominent in Hollywood, including Ralph Eggleston, who won an Academy Award in 2001 for his Pixar short
For The Birds.

September 15
Richard Wright, 65

Keyboardist Wright, a founding member of Pink Floyd, was heard in the 1982 movie
Pink Floyd: The Wall
, which included 15 minutes of animation sequences. He also shared composer credit for songs in the 1999 Brazilian animated feature O Flautista Nos Portais Do Amanhecer.

September 16
Norman Whitfield, 67

One of the major architects of the Motown sound, he wrote
"I Heard It Through the Grapevine,"
a gigantic hit for Marvin Gaye. It gained new life in 1987 when Buddy Miles sang it in Will Vinton's Claymation commercial starring the California Raisins.

September 19
Earl Palmer, 84

Hugely prolific New Orleans drummer Earl Palmer's powerful backbeat was heard on the fast, percussion-heavy theme song of
The Flintstones. Possibly the most recorded drummer in the history of popular music, Palmer helped create the beat of rock 'n' roll.

September 21
Herbert J. Harris, 91

Noted New York percussionist who was Joseph Papp's music administrator for 18 years. The orchestra personnel manager for the 1987 special
(aka Christmas in Tattertown), the pilot for the first prime-time animated series for Nickelodeon.

September 24
Richard Pimm, 60

Producer with Vancouver animation outfit Studio B Productions. Pimm was a producer and production manager on the Studio B series
D'Myna Leagues, Yvon of the Yukon
and Class of the Titans. He was producing A Side Show Christmas at the time of his death.

September 26
Paul Newman, 83
A racecar driver of considerable ability, Newman co-starred with Owen Wilson in Cars
(2006), voicing Doc Hudson, a 1951 Hudson Hornet with a mysterious past. He repeated the role in the 2006 Pixar short Mater And The Ghostlight.
Marc Moulin, 66
Credited as the "musical brain" behind 1980s Belgian electro band Telex. Moulin was the musical consultant and a composer for the Belgian-French animated feature film Tarzoon, la Honte de la Jungle
, known in English as Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle.

September 27
Bob Carr, 83

Animator from 1953 to 1981 who worked at Hanna-Barbera Studios and Filmation Associates. Carr also was at Disney and TV Spots. His final screen credit -- as Robert Carr -- was as an animator for Ralph Bakshi's feature film
American Pop.

October 4
Charles M. Runyon, 86
Los Angeles children's TV show host known as Chucko the Birthday Clown on popular 1950s and early 1960s kids' programs. During his hour-long live show, Chucko would screen cartoons and play games with his studio audience, which included two children celebrating their birthdays.

October 9
Milan Kymlicka, 72
Czechoslovakian-born Canadian composer; writer of scores for Nelvana's Babar
series and the 1989 feature film Babar: The Movie. He was the composer for the partly animated Canadian-Czech feature film Dancing on the Moon (1997).

October 10
Harry S. Gold, 50

Executive director of business and legal affairs for Disney Theatrical Productions. Gold joined Disney in 1997. He handled business and legal affairs for such Disney musicals on Broadway and around the world as
The Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins and The Lion King.
Robert Smith, 81
A character designer and visual developer for Disney's 1994 movie The Lion King
. Smith was primarily a layout artist, working in that capacity in the 1988 Disney feature film Oliver & Company. He was a layout assistant on the 1990 sequel The Rescuers Down Under.

October 11
Neal Hefti, 85

Film and TV composer who penned the famed
theme for the Batman television series. As performed by Hefti, the "Batman Theme" was heard on the soundtrack of the 2006 DreamWorks feature film Flushed Away. Also composed the theme for The Odd Couple.
Dante N. DiThomas, 93
A studio musician for 10 years at Disney in Burbank, California. DiThomas worked on over 200 motion pictures and TV-movies during his career, including the Disney animated features The Little Mermaid
and Beauty And The Beast.

October 13
Guillaume Depardieu, 37

The son of French film star Gerard Depardieu and a noted actor in his own right. He starred in about 20 movies. He provided the voice of Carl in
Peur(s) Du Noir (Fear of the Dark), a black and white animated horror feature film that saw general French release February 13.

October 14
Grant H. Crabtree, 96
Documentary filmmaker, cinematographer for the pioneering 1948 Canadian short
The Loon's Necklace
. Combining animation and live action with sets painted by cameraman Crabtree, The Loon's Necklace was named Film of the Year at the very first Canadian Film Awards in 1949.

October 17
Levi Stubbs, Jr., 72

The strong baritone lead singer of Motown's Four Tops and a voice actor in DiC animated series. He portrayed Mother Brain in the cartoon shows
Captain N & the Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, Captain N: The Game Master
and Captain N and the New Super Mario World.

October 19
Rudy Ray Moore, 81

Filthy-mouthed African-American comedian and rapper better known as
. Nicknamed "The Godfather of Rap" and "King of the Party Records," Moore voiced Mr. Slippers in the Revolution Pictures animated feature Lil' Pimp (2004).

October 20
John Ringham, 80

Character actor and fixture on British TV shows for over 50 years. He voiced Tlotoxl in the 2002 BBC Worldwide animated short
Making Cocoa
. It was based on the 1964 Doctor Who episode "The Aztecs," in which Ringham played villain Tlotoxl.

October 21
Robert Humble, 84

Cinematographer and camera operator for over 100 National Film Board of Canada productions. The animation camera operator for
Every Child (1979), which won the Oscar the following year for Best Short Film (animated).

October 25
Muslim Magomayev, 66

Soviet-era opera and pop singer, an Azeri-born baritone. He was the voice of the Troubadour, the Detective and Atamansha in the 20-minute Soyuzmultfilm cartoon Po Sledam Bremenskih Muzykantov (Following in the Tracks of Bremen Musicians), a 1973 musical sequel.

October 27
Ray Ellis, 85
Used the name of his wife Yvette Blais as a pseudonym to compose almost all of the background music for Filmation Associates cartoon series from 1968 to 1982. The Philadelphia native arranged classic pop tunes for Johnny Mathis, Bobby Darin and the Four Lads.

October 28
Nicolas Bataille, 82

French actor and theatre director who became a mainstay on Japanese stage and TV from 1968 to 1971. Awarded Japan's Order of the Rising Sun, he was a voice actor in Kihachiro Kawamoto's 1970 animated short
Kenju Giga

October 29
John Ahern, 74

Animator, director and producer, winner of a shared 1988 Daytime Emmy Award for Muppet Babies. Ahern produced 55 episodes of G.I. Joe (1985) and four episodes of Defenders of the Earth (1986).

October 31
Studs Terkel, 96

Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago author and radio broadcast personality who let America's common people tell their tales in such books as Working and The Good War. He was a narrator of the six-minute animated film Peace (1976), directed by Boshra Abo-Saif.

November 11
Emru Townsend, 39
Suburban Montreal resident who founded FPS (frames per second) animation fanzine in 1991. Townsend, who lost a battle with leukemia, had a strong following in the animation industry. The editor of FPS was a contributor to Animation World and Sci-Fi Entertainment as well.

November 13
James "Jim" Mueller, 85

Layout artist at Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-Spears, Warner Bros. and Filmation for over 40 years. Series included
Spider-Man, Jabberjaw, The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour, The All-New Super Friends Hour, Scooby's All Star Laff-A-Lympics, many others.

November 14
Irving Gertz, 93

Composer noted for his music for science-fiction and horror movies
(It Came From Outer Space, The Monolith Monsters, The Alligator People)
. His sole animation credit was for Daffy Rents, a 1966 Looney Tune from DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.

November 16
Fred Scott, 88

One of the original "rangers" on
Captain Video and his Video Rangers
and a host of several kids' cartoon shows on WNEW-TV 5 through the 1950s and 1960s. "Uncle" Fred Scott was the fourth and last host/performer of Bugs Bunny Presents.
Lillian D. "Joni" Fitts, 73
Head ink and painter in Los Angeles on the long-delayed feature film
The Thief And The Cobbler (1995). Fitts worked on animated motion picture features, Saturday morning TV and special interest videos for children. She was involved in more than 300 productions.

November 22
Alan Gordon, 64

Songwriter who, with Gary Bonner, wrote
"Happy Together,"
a #1 hit for The Turtles in 1967. As performed by The Turtles, "Happy Together" was on the soundtrack of 2007's The Simpsons Movie, as well as the 2001 Simpsons episode "Trilogy Of Error."

November 28
John Harryson, 82

Veteran Swedish actor, his country's official voice of the Disney characters Joakim von Anka (Scrooge McDuck) and Eeyore. He was heard in the Swedish versions of the Disney movies
Pinocchio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Dumbo
and Robin Hood.

December 2
Chihiro "Cherry" Enoki, 33

Emmy-nominated editor for the partly animated children's series
Postcards From Buster
. Enoki died from head injuries during a fall while hiking on Mount Shasta in Northern California. She also worked on the WGBH series FETCH!, which combines animation with live action.

December 4
Forrest J. Ackerman, 92
Founder of pulp magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland
and uncredited co-writer of the 1967 Rankin-Bass animated feature film Mad Monster Party. Though he once proposed an animated film of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Tolkien rejected the submitted storyline.

December 5
Beverly Garland, 82
Supporting actress whose half-century career ranged from Roger Corman cult films to a stint as Fred MacMurray's wife (and the boys' stepmom) on My Three Sons
. Her many TV roles included oddball guest spots on six episodes of Nicktoons' The Angry Beavers.

December 8
Oliver Postgate, 83

British producer, creator of such beloved children's animated series as
Bagpuss, The Clangers
and Ivor the Engine. The creator of Noggin the Nog. Postgate's work, often in collaboration with artist and puppeteer Peter Firmin, ran from the 1950s until the present.

December 11
Madeleine "Maddie" Blaustein, 48
Actress described as possibly "the most recognizable transgender voice on the planet." Known as the voice of nemesis Meowth on Pokemon, Blaustein provided many voices for anime properties that 4Kids Entertainment imported from Japan and dubbed into English.

December 13
Horst Tappert, 85

Said to be the only German actor to have fan clubs abroad. Best known as the police inspector in long-running TV series Derrick
, he returned in a 2004 animated feature film, Derrick -- die Pflicht ruft (Derrick -- Duty Calls), to voice his old role as Stephan Derrick.

December 15
Henry "Hank" Stohl, 81

Pittsburgh puppeteer whose
Popeye 'n' Knish show delighted kids watching WTAE-TV 4. In 1952 and for a dozen years thereafter, Stohl was live on Pittsburgh TV, hosting cartoons and performing sketches that he wrote himself.

December 18
Majel Barrett Roddenberry, 76

Known as
"The First Lady of Star Trek"
for her marriage to late creator Gene Roddenberry. In Filmation's 1970s Star Trek: The Animated Series, she voiced Nurse Chapel and the Enterprise Computer, as well as Lt. M'Ress and various guest characters.

December 19
Page Cavanaugh, 86
Jazz pianist and composer whose trio accompanied such famed singers as Frank Sinatra and Doris Day. The Page Cavanaugh Trio provided the vocals for Bill Justice and Wolfgang Reitherman's 1957 Oscar-winning Disney short The Truth About Mother Goose.

December 25
Eartha Kitt, 81

Beautiful, outspoken singer, dancer and actress, the voice of Yzma in Disney's 2000 feature film
The Emperor's New Groove
and the subsequent TV series The Emperor's New School. In both 2007 and 2008, The Emperor's New School
earned her a Daytime Emmy Award.

They are no longer here. Their works remain with us.


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