Longtime animator and graphic artist Cornelius “Corny” Cole died early Monday morning, his close friend, animator Bob Kurtz, confirmed. He was reportedly 81.
Cole had been suffering with MSA (Multiple System Atrophy).
He served as a faculty member at CalArts for 15 years and taught life drawing at the University of Southern California,
Born (in 1930) and raised in Southern California, Cole designed the Oscar-winning 1970 short subject Is It Always Right To Be Right?. That year, he won a Cleo Award for his work on commercials.
At DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, with which he was long associated, he was the lead graphic designer for the groundbreaking animated title sequence of the 1963 movie The Pink Panther.
A fine art major at Chouinard Art School, he began in animation in 1954 as an in-betweener on Disney’s Lady And The Tramp, released the following year. Though uncredited, he was an effects animator for Warner Bros.’ legendary What’s Opera, Doc? (1957).
Working in the late 1950s for UPA, he moved on to WB in the early 1960s. Cole finally received screen credit for the 1961 Looney Tune Lickety-Splat, with Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner — and directed by Chuck Jones. He was a production designer for Jones on the feature fims Gay Purr-ee (1962) and The Phantom Tollbooth (1970)
Cole was a layout artist for the TV series Linus! The Lion Hearted (1964), The Secret Squirrel Show (1965), The Super 6 (1966), Super President (1967), The Pink Panther Show (1969), The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show (1978) and Alvin & the Chipmunks (1987).
He was a character designer on The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1968) and a storyboard artist on Emergency +4 (1973), and a storyboard directyor on My Little Pony ‘n Friends (1987). As well, he was the title designer on the 1966 live-action series Mr. Terrific.
The designer on the Ant & The Aardvark theatrical shorts for DFE, Cole did production design on the movies Shinbone Alley (1971) and Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977). He was the design developer for TMS’ unsuccessful 1989 animated feature film Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland.
Other animated movies that he worked on included The Mouse and His Child (1977), Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie and Heavy Metal (both 1981), Bugs Bunny’s 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales (1982), My Little Pony: The Movie (1986), The Chipmunk Adventure (1987), Tom and Jerry: The Movie (1992) and the long-delayed The Princess and the Cobbler (1993).
He was a production designer or director on the TV specials Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962), Clerow Wilson and the Miracle of P.S. 14 (1972), Clerow Wilson’s Great Escape (1974), I Love the Chipmunks Valentine Special (1984) and A Chipmunk Reunion (1985).
He was an animator and graphic designer for The Naked Ape (1973), and the title designer for the soft-core sci-fi spoof Flesh Gordon (1974). In addition, he was the animation director for the live-action Doris Day movie With Six You Get Eggroll (1968).
Cole also worked at Murakami-Wolf and Hanna Barbera.
“This business has lost one of its greatest icons, as all his friends, and students at CalArts, will attest,” said Bob Foster, president of The Animation Guild (TAG), Local 839 IATSE.
“The Animation Guild had long ago scheduled a gallery show of Corny’s work for this coming October and, at the urging of Corny’s family, we will still have that show. But now it will be far bigger and more important. It will be a celebration,” Foster continued. “We’ll have details as we confirm everything.”
Information about memorial services also will be announced later.