Director Jimmy T. Murakami (b.Teruaki Murakami 1933) died on February 16. Murakami directed Battle Beyond the Stars and When the Wind Blows. He worked as an animator on several projects, including the 1980s television series The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and as a producer on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Camera operator Suzy Zeffren-Rauch (b.Suzy Zeffren, 1970) died on February 12. Zeffren-Rauch began working for Disney Studios as a camera department coordinator on Beauty and the Beast in 1991 and went on to work on animated films including Lilo & Stitch and Treasure Planet. Following her work on Chicken Little, she moved to the film & digital services department.
Producer Arthur Rankin, Jr. (b.1924) died on January 30. Rankin partnered with Jules Bass to form Rankin/Bass, an animation company known for their Christmas specials, including Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. Some of their more standard SF/F fare included adaptations of The Last Unicorn, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. He also produced Thundercats.
Animator Hal Sutherland (b.1929) died on January 16. Sutherland got his start working on Disney’s Sleeping Beauty before he co-founded Filmation in the early 1960s and worked as the new company’s Director of Animation. His animation at Filmation included work on Star Trek: The Animated Series, The New Adventures of Flash Gordon, and several DC titles.
Producer Lou Scheimer (b. 1928) died on October 17. Scheimer worked on numerous animated films and television series, many of which were science fiction and fantasy related. Some of animated is shows included Star Trek, She-Ra: Princess of Power, Ghostbusters, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and Flash Gordon. He also produced the live action Shazam! and Isis. His last film was the feature Happily Ever After.
June Foray will receive the Governor’s Award from the The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Board of Governors. The award, presented by the organization which presents the Emmys, will recognized Foray’s eighty year career in show business, for much of which she has been the pre-eminent female voice artist, providing voices for Rocket J. Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, Witch Hazel, Nell Fenwick, Grandma Fa (from Mulan), and many other cartoons. She will receive the award three days before her 96th birthday.
William Watts Biggers (b.1914) died on February 10. Biggers co-created the cartoon Underdog for General Mills while working for DFS as an advertising executive. After General Mills pulled out of the animation business, he became vice president of promotion and creative services at NBC. He also formed Total Television and produced Tennessee Tuxedo and His Friends, GoGo Gophers, and Klondike Kat.
Voice actress Lucille Bliss (b.1916) died on November 8. Bliss provided the voice for Crusader Rabbit in the first season of the eponymously named show, the first cartoon made specifically for television. She continued to work, providing voices for Smurfette, Ms. Bitters (on Invader ZIM, and for numerous other projects including Star Wars video games and the film Robots. She got her start providing the voice for Anastasia in Cinderella and continued working until 2007. In 2000, she received the Winsor McCay Award.
Actress Ginny Tyler (b.1925) died on July 13. Tyler’s voice appeared in numerous Disney animation, including Mary Poppins, The Sword in the Stone, and Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. She also provided the voice of Sue Storm in the 1970s The Fantastic Four cartoon and provided voice work in Space Ghost. In 2006, she was named a Disney Legend.
Voice actor Dick Beals (b.1927) died on May 29. Beals suffered from a glandular condition which resulted in having a very young sounding voice, allowing him to provide voice work as a child well into his 70s. His most famous character may be Speedy, the Alka-Seltzer mascot, but he also voiced Baby-Faced Moonbeam in Duck Dodgers, the title character on Gumby, and various voices on Roger Ramjet, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, and other cartoons.