“Rugrats” director, producer Jim Duffy dead at 75

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Jim Duffy

Jim Duffy

Multiple Emmy-winning animator, director and producer James “Jim” Duffy, a 20-year Klasky Csupo veteran, died Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.

He died peacefully at home in his sleep surrounded by his family.

Duffy supervised many Klasky Csupo shows, particularly Rugrats, directing more episodes of that series than any other artist. During his career, he was involved in over 400 half-hours of animated TV series, commercials and National Coal Board Safety Films as a director, animator, producer, writer, tracer/painter, storyboard artist and/or designer.

“Jim Duffy will be greatly missed,” said animation producer Mary Harrington, a colleague on Rugrats and Aaahh! Real Monsters. “I was so lucky to have had the opportunity to work closely with this talented director for several years. I learned so much working with him as did many of the greatest artists in our industry who also had the opportunity to work with Jim. He was a kind and quiet leader who leaves an extraordinary legacy of great films that we his friends and fans may enjoy forever.”

Said Jerry Hibbert, another former co-worker: “You didn’t really work with Jim. You could work at the next desk to Jim, as I did for several years. Jim liked to work solo. He wrote his own scripts, did his own keys, his own in-betweens, his own trace and paint. But he also liked people around him. He was the gentlest, kindest, most generous man you could imagine, and completely absorbed in his family, his friends — and animation.”

“Jim Duffy was an unusual talent, as he never told anyone how good he was,” said animation director Jimmy Murakami of When the Wind Blows and The Snowman fame.

Besides Murakami, Duffy worked with such major animators as Steve Bosustow, Fred Crippen, George Dunning, Charles Eames, John Halas, Stan Lee, Bill Melendez, Bill Sewell, Charles Swenson and Fred Wolf.

In 1994 and 2003, Duffy shared Daytime Emmy wins for Outstanding Animated Children’s Program for Rugrats. The series earned him a shared Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Animation in 1995.

He was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program for Rugrats in 2000, 2001 and 2002. In 2004, he shared a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program for the series.

Duffy was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program for Rugrats in 1993. And in 1995, he was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or Less) for the TV special A Rugrats Passover.

In 2002 and 2003, As Told by Ginger brought him Emmy nominations for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour). He was nominated in 1991 for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program for Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and in 1995 for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Animation for Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.

He was creative producer and director of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Rocket PowerAs Told by Ginger and All Grown Up. Before that, he worked at Murakami-Wolf, Hanna-Barbera and Marvel on various shows, including Captain Planet, Smurfs, G.I. Joe and Jem.

Duffy produced the mini-series G.I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra (1984), the 1987 series Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light and the TV-movie Solarman (1986). Senior executive producer of the 2001 TV documentary Rugrats: Still Babies After All These Years, he was creative producer of the video shorts The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: Scared Silly (1998) and The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: The Legend of Grimace Island (1999).

Director of the 2006 TV series The Adventures of Chico and Guapo and the 1975 documentary short Safety Senses, he was assistant director of the 1975 TV-movie The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe.

Duffy was an animation supervisor for the TV series The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, Super Friends and Laverne & Shirley in the Army (all 1981). He was an animation director of the 2008 cartoon movie Immigrants (L.A. Dolce Vita).

He animated the 1983 TV series The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show and The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, as well as that year’s TV-movies My Smurfy Valentine, Peter and the Magic Egg and The Great Bear Scare. Duffy animated the TV shorts Puff and the Incredible Mr. Nobody (1982) and What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? (1983), in addition to the 1977 movie The Mouse and His Child, the 1976 theatrical short Sooper Goop, and the “Hotbook” animation sequence in the 1990 movie Book of Love.

A sheet timer for the 1995 TV series Dino Babies, Duffy also was an animation timer for Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man (1994-96). Duffy was a storyboard artist for the 1990 series Captain N & the Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3.

His own personal short projects were screened at festivals in Bilbao, Lucca, Nancy, Nyon, Oberhausen, Tours and Zagreb.

Although born in the United States, Duffy divided his career between London and Los Angeles.

Jim Duffy’s marriage to the former Cella Nichols ended in divorce. He is survived by three children, who all hold positions at Klasky-Csupo: Vera, a freelance writer; James, a props designer; and Barbara Duffy, who is in production.

Services are set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 31 at the Old North Church at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

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