Obituary: Francis Xavier Atencio

Disney animator Francis Xavier Atencio (b.1919) died on September 10. Known as X, he first began working at Disney in 1938, when he was 18. His first work appeared on screen in Pinocchio and he was later assigned to be an assistant animator on Fantasia. His first on-screen credit was for the Oscar winning Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. After working on the animated sequences of Mary Poppins, X began to word for WED Enterprises, where he developed music and dialogue for rides including Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.

Design a Creature: Dark Crystal

Jim Henson’s Creature Shop is giving artists a chance to design an original creature for the world of The Dark Crystal, to be featured in the upcoming Netflix Original series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Concepts, created by hand or digitally, shoudl include front and side views, along with 50-100 words about the creature, including name, backstory and characteristics. The winner will receive $500 and the concept will be turned into a creature for possible inclusion in the show. Submissions are due by November 22.
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Obituary: June Foray

Actress June Foray (b.1917) died on July 26, less than two months before her 100th birthday. Foray appeared in very few films, but she provided voicework for hundreds of projects. Some of her most famous work includes the voices of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, Witch Hazel, Nell Fenwick, Granny, Cindy Lou Who, and Chatty Cathy. In addition to her animation work, Foray’s voices could also be heard on numerous radio shows. Chuck Jones once stated, “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc is the male June Foray.”

Obituary: Tyrus Wong

Animator Tyrus Wong (b.1910) died on December 30. Wong immigrated to the US when he was 9 and eventually got a job with Disney, where his artwork inspired the film Bambi and he served as Bambi’s principal animator. He was fired from Disney after the Animator’s Strike and worked on backgrounds for Warner Brothers and eventually served as Assistant Art Director for the 1956 film Around the World in Eighty Days. In 2001, he was named a Disney Legend.

Obituary: Willis Pyle

Animator Willis Pyle (b.1914) died on June 2. Pyle got his start as an office boy at Disney before working on Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi. After Bambi, he left Disney he worked for Walter Lantz, where he animated Gerald McBoing-Boing. He also helped develop Mr. Magoo. Pyle’s brother was actor Denver Pyle, who portrayed Uncle Jesse on The Dukes of Hazzard.

Obituary: Janet Waldo

Actress Janet Waldo (b.1920) died on June 12. Waldo was a voice actress who provided voices for the television shows Battle of the Planets, The Flintstones, and Adam Ant. Some of her most famous roles included Penelope Pitstop, Josie McCoy (on Josie and the Pussycats), and Judy Jetson.

Obituary: Monty Oum

Animator Monty Oum (b.1981) died on February 1 from an allergic reaction. Oum created the series RWBY and also worked in the gaming industry for Midway Games and Namco Bandai Games, often as a combat designer. He began working for Rooster Teeth in 2010. Prior to working in the gaming industry, Oum created on-line videos using character models he was able to extract from various games. He won a Steamy Award and an International Academy of Web Television Award for RWBY.

Obituary: Casey Kasem

Actor Casey Kasem (b.Kemal Amin Kasem 1932) died on June 15. Best known as the DJ who hosted American Top 40, he also provided the voice of Norville “Shaggy” Rogers on the various Scooby Doo television series. He has also done voicework for The Transformers, Homeboys in Outer Space, SuperFriends (where he voiced Robin), and Battle of the Planets.

Obituary: Jimmy T. Murakami

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.

Obituary: Suzy Zeffren-Rauch

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.