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.
Actress Dimitra Arliss (b.1932) died on January 26. Arliss provided voice work for both the Iron Man and Spider-Man animated television series in the 1990s. She also appeared in the science fiction film Firefox and the fantasy film Xanadu. She may have been best know for her brief role as Salino, the hired killer, in The Sting.
Voice actor Dick Tufeld (b.1926) died on January 22. Tufeld may be best known as the voice of the robot on Lost in Space, a role he reprised for the film and in various homages to the series, such as an episode of The Simpsons. He had numerous other voice over roles, often uncredited, on shows including Space Patrol, The Amazing Spider-Man and His Friends, The Fantastic Four, The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and many more.
June Foray has been announced as the winner of this year’s Icon Award by Comic-Con. The Icon Award is presented to individuals who have been instrumental in bringing comics and/or the popular arts to a wider audience. Foray is a voice artist who has long worked in the field and may be best known for providing the voices of Rocket J. Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, Granny, and Witch Hazel, among many others. Beginning in the Tex Avery short Wacky Wildlife in 1940, Foray still works, currently voicing characters on The Garfield Show and The Looney Toons Show. She published her autobiography in 2009.
Japanese animator Osamu Dezaki (b.1943) died on April 17. Dezaki was the director of Space Adventure Cobra, The Mighty Orbots, and Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light. Dezaki was known for his signature “Postcard Memory,” in which the animation would freeze and be replaced by a stylized illustration of the same image. Dezaki also worked under the pseudonym “Makura Saki.”
Animator Bill Justice (b.1914) died February 10. Justice joined Walt Disney Studios in 1937 and worked on Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan. He was the primary animator for the character Thumper in Bambi. In 1965, he moved over to Disney Imagineering and helped create animated figures for The Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion rides at Disneyland.
Producer Dwayne McDuffie (b.1962) died February 22. McDuffie joined Marvel in the late 1980s, and by 1993 had founded Milestone Media, with the goal of expanding the role of minorities in comics. McDuffie served as story editor for the animated series Justice League Unlimited, wrote for Fantastic Four and Justice League of America, and wrote the script for the animated All Star Superman.