Animator Michael Sporn Passes Away

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MichaelSpornPio­neer­ing Amer­i­can ani­ma­tor Michael Sporn passed away Sat­ur­day after suf­fer­ing from pan­cre­atic can­cer. Sporn pro­duced and directed a num­ber of ani­mated spe­cials and com­mer­cials from his New York based stu­dios. Many of his works were known for their under­ly­ing social com­men­tary and mes­sages. He was also known for films aimed at edu­cat­ing chil­dren rather than just enter­tain­ing them.

Sporn was the direc­tor of more than thirty tele­vi­sion spe­cials for broad­cast out­lets as diverse as HBO, PBS, Show­time and CBS. Sporn also had a long asso­ci­a­tion with Weston Woods Stu­dios, direct­ing such shorts as The Man Who Walked Between The Tow­ers and The Mys­te­ri­ous Tad­pole. Despite the cre­ation of Michael Sporn Ani­ma­tion, Inc. in 1982, the asso­ci­a­tion con­tin­ued. The short Doc­tor DeS­oto (1984) was such a col­lab­o­ra­tion, and resulted in Sporns’ only Acad­emy Award nom­i­na­tion in 1985. The short was writ­ten by William Steig.

Sporn also directed Steig’s Abel’s Island (1988) from the PBS anthol­ogy series “Long Ago & Far Away”, which was nom­i­nated for an Emmy Award; The Amaz­ing Bone (1985), win­ner of a CINE Golden Eagle; and the afore­men­tioned The Man Who Walked Between The Tow­ers (2005), which was the win­ner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excel­lence in Children’s Video and Best Short Children’s Film award from the Ottawa Inter­na­tional Ani­ma­tion Festival.

He was 67 when he died, and is sur­vived by his wife, actress and direc­tor Heidi Stallings. At the time of his death, he was pro­duc­ing and direct­ing Poe, an ani­mated fea­ture based the life of Edgar Allan Poe.

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