Tag Archives: Obituary

Woodbury Animation Founder, Chair Jack Bosson Dies

Jack Bosson

Jack Bosson

Jack Bosson, chair of Woodbury University’s animation department for three years, has died, cartoon historian Jerry Beck announced Monday evening.

His age was not immediately available.

Bosson served as as a training consultant to Disney in 1999 and taught at various institutions until he was hired to set up an animation department at Woodbury. He retired two years ago as professor emeritus after eight years at the university.

He did background painting briefly at Hanna-Barbera and was hired as a trainer in feature animation at Disney in 1995.

Bosson was a practicing and exhibiting fine artist and freelance illustrator for over 35 years. He taught drawing and painting at Cornell University, College of New Rochelle, University of Southern California, Otis College of Art and Design, Gnomon School of Visual Effects and Woodbury, among other institutions.

Bosson received his Diploma of Design from The Cooper Union. He studied painting and drawing at the l’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris on a Fulbright Fellowship, and received his Master of Fine Arts Degree from Cornell in 1966.

Leonard Termo, 77, Acted in 5 Mickey Rourke Movies

Leonard Termo

Leonard Termo

Character actor Leonard Termo, who appeared alongside Mickey Rourke in five 1980s films, died peacefully in his sleep Tuesday at his Santa Clarita, California home, his friend, actor Elias Koteas, said Friday. He was 77.

Termo voiced Steve’s dad in the 2001 animated short Clay Pride: Being Clay in America, directed by David Karlsberg and Jon Watts.

The Brooklyn-born Termo guested in the infamous Seinfeld episode “The Mango,” which opened the series’ fifth season. In it, he portrayed the owner of Joe’s Fruits who bans Kramer, then Jerry, when Michael Richards’ character crabs about a bad peach.

Later, George eats one of Joe’s mangoes, which apparently ends his erectile dysfunction. “I think it moved!” George announces in bed.

Termo first appeared in films in 1983′s Heart Like a Wheel. The following year, he portrayed a gay waiter opposite Rourke in The Pope of Greenwich Village. Other appearances with Rourke were in Michael Cimino’s Year of the Dragon (1985), Barbet Schroeder’s Barfly (1987), A Prayer for the Dying (1987) and Homeboy (1988).

His other movies included Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club (1984), Johnny Dangerously (1984), Turk 182! (1985), Ruby (1992), Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994, as a makeup man), David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997), Fight Club (1999) and Ali (2001).

TV series in which he appeared included Wiseguy and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

Termo became an actor in the mid-1970s, leaving his job as a businessman in New York’s garment district. To change careers, he “left it all — my wife, my kid, my money, everything,” he told New York magazine in a November 1983 profile of Rourke. “I love acting. I’m broke. I sleep on a cot.”

Rourke befriended Termo after seeing him in a Los Angeles theater production. The pair were longtime friends.

“If they told me they’d chuck a few years off my life, but I knew when I went that Lenny would go with me, I’d do it in a second,” Rourke said in a 1987 Playboy interview.

Termo and Rourke were once scheduled to appear in a Cimino biography at Embassy Pictures about “Legs” Diamond with Rourke as the 1930s gangster and Termo as his bodyguard. However, the film never was made.

Rourke could not be reached for comment.

A memorial service is planned for January 15, with details to be announced, Koteas said.

Dave Borthwick Directed Doogal, Magic Roundabout

Dave Borthwick

Dave Borthwick

British stop-motion animator Dave Borthwick, a director of the feature films The Magic Roundabout (2005) and Doogal (2006), died this past week in Bristol, England, cartoon historian Jerry Beck said Thursday morning.

His age was not immediately available.

Borthwick, co-founder of Bristol’s bolexbrothers studios with Dave Alex Riddett in the early 1980s, died of pneumonia after his health had been failing for a while, Beck quoted stop-motion character animator Tom Gasek as saying.

Known as The Magic Roundabout in the United States, the 2005 movie was originally titled Sprung! The Magic Roundabout in Britain.

He conceived, directed, wrote and even edited 1993′s The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb. Based on an award-winning 10-minute pilot, it was a 61-minute film combining 3-D model animation with an innovative use of pixilation -the technique of animating human actors frame by frame. The film was the first major production for the bolexbrothers.

“Pixilation is no small task for actors,” he said of Tom Thumb. A movement or expression that lasts for, say, five seconds on screen could take three or four hours to shoot.”

He won several awards for The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb: the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Technical/Artistic Achievement, the Critics’ Award – Special Mention at Fantasporto, the International Fantasy Film Award for Best Director, and the Best Director award at the Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival.

Bolexbrothers specializes in stop frame and pixilation. Following a decade of producing short films and commercials, it was focusing its efforts on a full-length feature, Grass Roots: The Movie, at the time of Borthwick’s death. The film was a clay-animated adaptation of Gilbert Shelton’s underground comic The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

Borthwick worked on such animated shorts as Valhalla (1986), The Saint Inspector (1996), Keep in a Dry Place and Away from Children (1998) and Little Dark Poet (1999) as an executive producer, editor or consultant. He appeared as himself on “Visions of Childhood,” a episode of the 2005 documentary TV series Animation Nation.

Bolexbrothers also produced animated commercials for such clients as Coca-Cola’s Fanta, Legos, Weetabix, Carlsberg, Nestea, Budweiser, Scotland against Drugs and Boots.

Borthwick was nominated for a CableACE Award for Editing a Documentary Special or Series in connection with the 1991 special LifePulse, which aired on Disney Channel.

Oh, Pretty Woman Songwriter Bill Dees Dead at 73

William "Bill" Dees

William “Bill” Dees

Singer-songwriter William “Bill” Dees, co-writer with Roy Orbison of such global hits as “Oh, Pretty Woman” and “It’s Over,” died Wednesday night at a nursing facility in Mountain Home, Arkansas. He was 73.

A resident of Forsyth, Missouri, near Branson, the entertainment was diagnosed this summer with an inoperable brain tumor.

Orbison’s rendition of “Oh, Pretty Woman” was heard in the soundtrack of the 2001 Futurama episode “The Cyber House Rules.”

Though best known for his work with Orbison, Dees wrote songs that were recorded by such other famed performers as Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Glen Campbell.

Born in Borger, Texas on January 24, 1939, he had lived for the last three decades in the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks.

Funeral services are pending.

Award-winning “Rabbit” Director Run Wrake Dies, 47

Run Wrake

Run Wrake

British animator and illustrator Run Wrake, whose Rabbit was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Animated Short, died at 5 a.m. Sunday due to cancer. He was 47.

“He had spent a beautiful Saturday with his two children Florence and Joe, his sister Fiona and myself,” his wife Lisa posted on his Facebook page. “We left him at 7 p.m. doing what he loved best — drawing and animating with peg bar and paper. I was with him for his last moments.”

Rabbit (2005) won a host of awards at film festivals across the world, including Best Film at the 2006 British Animation Awards and the McLaren Award for Animation at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Wrake was developing an animated feature, The Way to a Whole New You, with writer Neil Jaworski for BBC Films.

Born John Wrake in Yemen in 1965, he studied graphic design at the Chelsea School of Art and then completed an MA at the Royal College of Art.

As well as making films, he worked on commercials and live visuals for bands including U2 and Oasis, and worked extensively with Howie B, initially on a short film to accompany the release of his album Music for Babies and then on a series of promos. In 2010, he developed visuals for U2′s 360 worldwide tour.

Russell Means, 72, Was Pocahontas Actor, Activist

Russell Means

Russell Means

Native American activist and actor Russell Means, the voice of Chief Powhatan — the title character’s father — in the 1995 Disney film Pocahontas, died early Monday at his ranch in Porcupine on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, his family said in a statement. He was 72.

The former leader of the American Indian Movement was diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer in August 2011. He received a combination of traditional Native American and conventional modern medical therapies at an Arizona clinic. Eventually, the cancer spread to his tongue, lymph nodes and lungs, friends said.

“Our dad and husband now walks among our ancestors,” the family statement said.

Pocahontas became Disney’s third highest-selling video ever. Means also voiced Powhatan in the 1998 direct-to-video Disney release Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World.

He voiced both the Chief Sentry and the Shaman in the 2008 direct-to-DVD movie Turok: Son of Stone. Means was a guest actor in the 1997 Duckman episode “Role With It,” in which Duckman takes his family on an educational trip to a “genuine Indian reservation” — which turns out to be a casino.

Means narrated Trevor Jones’ 2010 animated theatrical short The Sasquatch and the Girl.

He was described by the Los Angeles Times as the most famous American Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

A former Libertarian Party candidate for United States president, he lost the nomination to Congressman Ron Paul at the party’s 1987 national convention.

Russell Charles Means was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of South Dakota’s Oglala Sioux on November 10, 1939. He was the eldest son of Hank Means, an Oglala Sioux, and Theodora (Feather) Means, a full-blooded Yankton Sioux.

Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, his family moved to California, where he graduated from San Leandro High in 1958 and continued his formal education at Oakland City College and Arizona State. Russell’s commitment to uplift the plight of his people escalated when he served as director of Cleveland’s American Indian Center. It was there that he met Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement, and embarked upon a relationship that would rocket them both into national prominence.

He had been an activist for Native American rights since the 1960s, when he began protesting college and professional sports teams’ use of Indian images as mascots. Means described these as demeaning caricatures of his people.

In 1968, he joined the AIM, soon rising to be one of the group’s best-known leaders. In 1972, he took part in an occupation of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters in Washington, D.C. The following year, he led the 72-day standoff with federal authorities at Wounded Knee on Pine Ridge.

Arrested many times during his years of protest, and was jailed on several occasions.

Means joined “The Longest Walk” in 1978 to protest a new tide of anti-Indian legislation including the forced sterilization of Indian women. Following the walk, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution saying that national policy was to protect the rights of Indians, “to believe, express and exercise their traditional religions, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.”

In the early 2000s, he ran several times for president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, but was defeated each time. Means became an actor starting as Daniel Day-Lewis’ adopted father, Chief Chingachgook, in the 1992 blockbuster Last of the Mohicans. He appeared in over 30 films and TV shows productions, including Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994) and Pathfinder (2007). In other major feature films, he had lead roles as a chief in John Candy’s comedy Wagons East and as the ghost of Jim Thorpe in Wind Runner.

He also worked in a television documentary for HBO, Paha Sapa; and Indian Father and Son, a pilot he created. He wrote two albums of protest music, Electric Warrior and The Radical. On the technological side, he starred in a CD-ROM, Under A Killing Moon.

He split his time between San Jose, New Mexico; his ranch on the Pine Ridge Sioux Indian reservation; and his office in Santa Monica, California. He took pride in having instituted programs for the betterment of his people: notably, the Porcupine Health Clinic (the only non-government funded clinic in Indian Country) and KILI radio, the first Indian-owned radio station.

One of his principal goals was the establishment of a “Total Immersion School,” based on a concept created by the Maori people of New Zealand, where children are immersed in the language, culture, science, music and storytelling of their own people.

Russell Means was predeceased by his brother Ted. He was married five times — the last to his widow, Pearl. He had 10 children.

The family has not yet finalized funeral plans. However, fellow AIM founder Dennis Banks said he understands that Means will be cremated, and that his life will be celebrated over four days of ceremonies that probably will begin Thursday.

Silver Surfer actor Bernard Behrens Dies at 85

Bernard Behrens

Bernard Behrens

British-born Canadian theatre, TV and film actor Bernard “Bunny” Behrens, the voice of Nietre in the Marvel Enterprises/Saban Entertainment series Silver Surfer, died September 19 in Perth, Ontario, just shy of his 86th birthday.

Silver Surfer aired on FOX in the United States and Teletoon in Canada. Harlan Ellison was one of its writers.

Behrens also provided additional voices in 1981′s Smurfs.

He voiced Obi-Wan Kenobi in the National Public Radio dramatizations of Star Wars (1981), The Empire Strikes Back (1983) and Return of the Jedi (1996).

In 1992, he won the Gemini — the Canadian equivalent of the Emmy — for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series in connection with his work in Saying Goodbye. He won a 1995 Gemini for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for the TV-movie Coming of Age.

Behrens received Gemini nominations in 1986 for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor for the TV-movie Turning to Stone, and in 2005 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role (Dramatic Series) for This Is Wonderland.

As a boy in Depression-era London, the city of his birth, Behrens dreamed from age 7 of being a Hollywood actor. He escaped the privations of poverty when he sneaked into movie theatres to live out the fantasy world of Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Irene Dunne and Myrna Loy, a world he eventually immersed himself in for more than half a century.

As a child evacuee during the Second World War, he was forced to live by his wits with a foster family, an experience he never forgot and which often haunted him throughout his life.

His path took him everywhere from the Bristol Old Vic to Canadian Players Tours in the 1950s and 1960s, the TV and radio services of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in their golden age; Toronto’s Crest Theatre; Halifax’s Neptune (where he and his wife were founding members under the direction of Leon Major); the Stratford and Shaw Festivals; and a decade in Hollywood, where his appearances in 1970s series from Dallas, Starsky and Hutch and The Bionic Woman to Columbo and Marcus Welby, MD, among many others, still grace late-night TV.

Behrens appeared in hundreds of films and TV shows, and always generously shared humorous anecdotes about his work with folks in the business.

Diagnosed with dementia four years ago, he had his final gigs as the much-loved Young Farley in the Shaw Festival production of Belle Moral, along with a brief appearance in the TV program Living in Your Car.

His final years were spent in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and, for the last year of his life, in Perth, where he was cared for in Lanark Lodge. Also in Perth, he met the actors and enjoyed a performance at the Classic Theatre Festival, run by his daughter-in-law, Laurel Smith. The last show he attended was a production of Mary, Mary in Perth, in which he starred 50 years ago in its Canadian premiere at the Neptune Theatre.

His picture (alongside that of fellow Canadian actor Ted Follows) graced the Festival lobby throughout the summer.

When Behrens suffered a major stroke a month before his death, an attendant who recognized him asked if he used to be an actor. Despite difficulty talking and moving, he responded, with his trademark tongue and attitude, “I still AM an actor!”

Bunny, as he insisted on being called, was married to Canadian actress Deborah Cass (nee Bernice Katz) for almost 50 years until her death in 2004. He is survived by sons Mark, of Dallas, Texas; Matthew, of Perth; and Adam, of London; and by grandchildren Taylor, Spenser and Kate.

A celebration of the lives of Bunny Behrens and Deborah Cass is being planned, with details to be announced soon.

Arrangements are in the care of Blair & Son Funeral Directors, Perth, (613) 267-3765.

A Facebook tribute page was planned.

In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations (tax-deductible) be made to the Classic Theatre Festival (www.classictheatre.ca at the Donate Now button).

John Clive was John Lennon in Yellow Submarine

John Clive

John Clive

Actor John Clive, the voice of John Lennon in the 1968 Beatles cartoon movie Yellow Submarine, died after a short illness, his family said Monday. He was 79.

The star of such movies at A Clockwork Orange, The Pink Panther Strikes Again and the original 1969 version of The Italian Job, he became an international best-selling author.

The decision to cast Clive as Lennon was controversially kept quiet after the Beatles opted against providing their own voices in all but the live-action finale to Yellow Submarine.

Born in North London on January 6, 1933, Clive appeared in over a hundred film and TV performances. Legendary film critic Dylis Powell picked up on him early in his career as the unctuous, ritzy car manager, divesting Michael Caine of some of his ill-gotten gains in The Italian Job.

Other films included A Clockwork Orange. He was in Carry On Abroad.

On TV, he appeared notably in Wear a Very Big Hat, directed by Ken Loach, and in The Sweeney and Rising Damp twice. Then he starred in the comedy-drama series Perils of Pendragon for BBC TV. Then he took the lead as Professor Sommerby in the children’s series Roberts Robots for ITV.

More television series followed. He played the Barry Fitzgerald part in How Green Was My Valley for BBC TV. He then did another series, The Government Inspector, again for BBC TV.

He was Hinks in The History of Mr Polly and the Reverend Boon in Tropic for ATV.

He played Mr Dumby in Lady Windermere’s Fan for BBC TV and more recently appeared in Casualty and Young Indiana Jones. He was in the award-winning comedy series Ten Percenters. He also did a feature film, RPM, directed by Ian Sharp.

But there was another side of his work that wasn’t often connected.

His comic talent as a character actor was unusual in that it contrasted sharply with his talent as a writer. He wrote the international best-seller KG200 and such other fact-based fiction as as The Last Liberator, Barossa and Broken Wings.

Clive lived in Spain and in London with his wife Bryony. She is Canadian and they met in a play. In the play, he was a psychiatrist and she was one of his patients, who believed she was Marlene Dietrich. At the end, they were supposed to fall in love. And that is where fiction became reality.

John Clive is survived by a son, Alexander, and a daughter, Hannah, from his previous marriage. Bryony has a son, Deane, from hers.

Geoffrey Hughes, the voice of Paul McCartney in Yellow Submarine, died July 27 at 68.

Dan Thompson won Daytime Emmy as Rugrats Director

Rugrats

Rugrats

Animator, director and producer Dan Thompson, who shared a Daytime Emmy for his work on Rugrats, died August 19.

His age was not immediately available.

As a director of Rugrats, he received a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program in 1992. He shared a nomination in the same category in 1993.

Thompson produced the TV series G.I. Joe (1985-86) and Jem (1987-88), as well as an episode of Swamp Thing (1991).

He directed the series Camp Candy (1990), Swamp Thing, Iron Man (1995-96) and The Incredible Hulk (1996). As well, he was supervising director of the 1983 mini-series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and director of the 1984 mini-series G.I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra.

He served as animation director of The Incredible Hulk (1982-83) and McGee and Me! (1989-90). A key animator for the “Taarna” segment of the 1981 movie Heavy Metal, he animated the 1984 movie Katy, la oruga, along with the TV-movies Clerow Wilson and the Miracle of P.S. 14 (1972) and Clerow Wilson’s Great Escape (1974).

In 1984, Thompson served as sequence director for the theatrical movie Gallavants and the Transformers TV series.

Timing director for the 1990 series Tiny Toon Adventures and 2000 video Monster Mash, he was an animation and/or sheet timer for the TV series The Wild Thornberrys (1999), Rocket Power (1999-2002) and As Told by Ginger (2003-06), as well as the 2002 TV-movie Inspector Gadget’s Last Case: Claw’s Revenge.

Since 1973, he worked for Krantz, Hanna-Barbera, Marvel, Disney, Warner Bros., Graz, Universal, Funnybone, DIC, Sunbow, Klasky-Csupo and Nickelodeon.

Thompson was also known for his “urban folk” art, mounting a very successful show at The Animation Guild’s Gallery 839 in October 2010.

Michael Rye, 94, was Cartoondom’s Lone Ranger

Michael Rye

Michael Rye

Voiceover actor Michael Rye, who had the title role in the 1966 Format Films cartoon series “The Lone Ranger,” died Sunday in Los Angeles after a short illness. He was 94.

Rye was a mainstay in many cartoon series and radio shows.

Born J. Riorden Billsbury in Chicago, he voiced Duke Igthorn and King Gregor, Malsinger and Troll the horse on Disney’s “Gummi Bears,” and Green Lantern and Apache Chief on “The All-New Super Friends Hour” and “Challenge of the “Super Friends.”

Rye was Mr. Slaghoople in 1986′s “The Flintstone Kids.”

He was part of the Hanna-Barbera stable of voice actors, and was heard often in “Scooby-Doo,” “Pound Puppies” and many other HB cartoon series.

During the Golden Age of radio, Rye acted in about 40 network shows during an average week. He had the lead role on “Jack Armstrong — The All American Boy.” As well, he was Gary Curtis on “Ma Perkins,” Tim Lawrence on “The Guiding Light,” and Pembrook on “Backstage Wife.”

Michael Rye is survived by his wife, the former Patricia Foster.

Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.