Pioneering 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.