Eugene Merril Deitch
August 8, 1924
|Died||April 16, 2020 95) (aged|
|Occupation||Illustrator, animator, director|
|Spouse(s)||Marie (m. 1943; div. before 1964)|
|Children||3, including Kim|
|Awards||Inkpot Award (2013)|
|Website||Archived at archive.org|
Eugene Merril Deitch (August 8, 1924 – April 16, 2020) was an American illustrator, animator, comics artist, and film director who was based in Prague from the 1960s until his death in 2020. Deitch was known for creating animated cartoons such as Munro , Tom Terrific , and Nudnik , as well as his work on the Popeye and Tom and Jerry series.
Deitch was born in Chicago on August 8, 1924, the son of salesman Joseph Deitch and Ruth Delson Deitch.In 1929, the family moved to California, and Deitch attended school in Hollywood. He graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1942.
After graduating, Deitch began working for North American Aviation, drawing aircraft blueprints. In 1943, he was drafted and underwent pilot training before catching pneumonia and was honorably discharged in May of the following year.From 1940 to 1951, Deitch contributed covers and interior art to the jazz magazine The Record Changer. In the 1950s, Deitch was an early supporter and audio engineer for Connie Converse, one of the first American singer-songwriters. Converse appeared once on CBS television due in part to Deitch's connections with the network, but otherwise found little success and eventually abandoned music only to be rediscovered decades later, through recordings Deitch had made of her music in 1954.
In 1955, Deitch took an apprenticeship at the animation studio United Productions of America (UPA), and later became the creative director of Terrytoons,creating such characters as Sidney the Elephant, Gaston Le Crayon, Tom Terrific, and Clint Clobber. Beginning in 1955, while working at UPA, Deitch wrote and drew the United Feature Syndicate comic strip The Real-Great Adventures of Terr’ble Thompson!, Hero of History, starring a courageous child in fantastical adventures. A skit about Terr'ble Thompson had been recorded by Little Golden Records, with actor Art Carney and bandleader Mitch Miller participating. That led to the daily strip, which ran from Sunday, October 16, 1955, to April 14, 1956. In early 1958, his theatrical cartoon Sidney's Family Tree was nominated for an Academy Award. In August 1958, he was fired from Terrytoons and set up his own studio in New York called Gene Deitch Associates, Inc., which primarily produced television commercials.
When client Rembrandt Filmspromised to fund Munro , an animated theatrical short Deitch wanted to create, Deitch relocated to the company's base in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in October 1959. He originally planned to spend only ten days in Prague, but after meeting his future wife, Zdenka, decided to settle permanently in the city. Munro premiered in Czechoslovakia in September 1960 and in the U.S. on October 5, 1961, as a short preceding Breakfast at Tiffany's . It won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1961, the first short created outside of the United States to be so honored. Munro was preserved by the Academy Film Archive in 2004.
From 1960 to 1963, Deitch collaborated with Rembrandt to direct Popeye cartoons for television with King Features, and from 1961 to 1962 he directed 13 new Tom and Jerry shorts for MGM.Being a "UPA man", Deitch had misgivings about the latter property, thinking they were "needlessly violent". However, after being assigned to work on the series, he quickly realized that "nobody took [the violence] seriously", and it was merely "a parody of exaggerated human emotions". He also came to see what he perceived as the "biblical roots" in Tom and Jerry's conflict, similar to David and Goliath, stating "That's where we feel a connection to these cartoons: the little guy can win (or at least survive) to fight another day." Contemporary critics often regarded Deitch's shorts as the worst in the Tom and Jerry series; Deitch said some fans wrote positive letters to him, stating that his Tom and Jerry shorts were their personal favorites.
With producer William L. Snyder, Deitch co-produced and directed a series of TV shorts of Krazy Kat for King Features from 1962 to 1964. The Bluffers , which was based on one of Deitch's ideas, was also co-produced by him. He directed the 1966 film Alice of Wonderland in Paris . In 1966, he worked with Czech animator Jiří Trnka on a feature-length animated film adaptation of The Hobbit . However, producer William L. Snyder couldn't secure the funds, and in order to not let the rights for the novel expire, he asked Deitch to produce a short film adaptation in 30 days. Deitch and illustrator Adolf Born made a 13-minute animated film never intended for distribution; the film was long considered lost until it was rediscovered by Snyder's son and released on YouTube in 2012.Also in 1966, Deitch created a young girl adventurer in Terr'ble Tessie.
From 1969 until his retirement in 2008, Deitch was the leading animation director for the Connecticut organization Weston Woods Studios, adapting children's picture books. Deitch adapted 37 films for Weston Woods, from Drummer Hoff in 1969 to Voyage to the Bunny Planet in 2008.His studio was located in Prague near the Barrandov Studios, where many major films were shot. In 2003, Deitch was awarded the Annie Awards' Winsor McCay Award by ASIFA-Hollywood for a lifetime contribution to the art of animation.
Deitch met his first wife, Marie, when they both worked at North American Aviation, and they married in 1943.Their three sons, Kim, Simon, and Seth Deitch, are artists and writers for underground and alternative comics.
Several days after arriving in Prague in October 1959, Deitch met Zdenka Najmanová, the production manager at the studio Bratři v triku where he worked. They married in 1964.Deitch's memoir, For the Love of Prague, is based on his experience of being what he called "the only free American living and working in Prague during 30 years of the Communist Party dictatorship". According to Deitch, although he was followed by the StB and his phone was tapped, he was never aware of their presence and was never interrogated nor arrested.
Deitch died in Prague on April 16, 2020, at the age of 95.Shortly before his death, Deitch had noted intestinal problems.
The golden age of American animation was a period in the history of U.S. animation that began with the popularization of sound cartoons in 1928 and gradually ended in the late 1960s, where theatrical animated shorts began losing popularity to the newer medium of television animation, produced on cheaper budgets and in a more limited animation style by companies such as Hanna-Barbera, UPA, Jay Ward Productions, and DePatie–Freleng.
Terrytoons was an animation studio in New Rochelle, New York, that produced animated cartoons for theatrical release from 1929 to 1972. Terrytoons was founded by Paul Terry, Frank Moser, and Joseph Coffman, and operated out of the "K" Building in downtown New Rochelle. The studio created many cartoon characters including Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckle, Gandy Goose, Sourpuss, Dinky Duck, Little Roquefort, the Terry Bears, and Luno; Terry's pre-existing character Farmer Al Falfa was also featured often in the series.
Thomas "Tom" Cat is a fictional character and one of the two titular main protagonists in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's series of Tom and Jerry theatrical animated short films. Created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, he is a grey and white anthropomorphic domestic short haired mute tuxedo cat who first appeared in the 1940 MGM animated short Puss Gets the Boot. The cat was known as "Jasper" during his debut in the short; however, beginning with his next appearance in The Midnight Snack he was known as "Tom" or "Thomas".
Tom Terrific is a 1957–1959 animated series on American television, presented as part of the Captain Kangaroo children's television show.
Gerald "Jerry" Mouse is a fictional character and one of the two titular main protagonists in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's series of Tom and Jerry theatrical animated short films. Created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Jerry is a brown mute anthropomorphic house mouse, who first appeared as a mouse named Jinx in the 1940 MGM animated short Puss Gets the Boot. Hanna gave the mouse's original name as "Jinx", while Barbera claimed the mouse went unnamed in his first appearance.
Tom and Jerry is an American animated media franchise and series of comedy short films created in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Best known for its 161 theatrical short films by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the series centers on the rivalry between the titular characters of a cat named Tom and a mouse named Jerry. Many shorts also feature several recurring characters.
Herman and Katnip are a duo of cartoon characters, Herman the Mouse and Katnip the Cat, that starred in theatrical animated shorts produced by Famous Studios in the 1940s and 1950s. Arnold Stang and Allen Swift were the regular voices of Herman, while Sid Raymond was the regular actor for Katnip, although one or both of the characters would occasionally be voiced by Jackson Beck and Jack Mercer, respectively.
Dan Gordon was an American storyboard artist and film director, best known for his work at both Famous Studios and Hanna-Barbera Productions. Gordon was one of Famous' first directors, and he wrote and directed several Popeye the Sailor and Superman cartoons. Later, at Hanna-Barbera, Gordon worked on several cartoons featuring Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and others. His younger brother, George Gordon (animator) worked for Hanna-Barbera.
Spike and Tyke is a short-lived theatrical animated short subject series, based upon the American bulldog father-and-son team from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Tom and Jerry cartoons. The characters first appeared in the Tom and Jerry series, in 1942's Dog Trouble.
The Fox and the Crow are a pair of anthropomorphic cartoon characters created by Frank Tashlin for the Screen Gems studio.
This is a complete list of the 164 shorts in the Tom and Jerry series produced and released between 1940 and 2014. Of these, 162 are theatrical shorts, one is a made-for-TV short, and one is a 2-minute sketch shown as part of a telethon.
Paul Houlton Terry was an American cartoonist, screenwriter, film director and producer. He produced over 1,300 cartoons between 1915 and 1956 including the many Terrytoons cartoons. His studio's most famous character is Mighty Mouse, and also created Heckle and Jeckle, Gandy Goose and Dinky Duck.
William Lawrence Snyder was an American film producer. He won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short in 1960 for the animation Munro. William Snyder created the company Rembrandt Films in Czechoslovakia, where animator Gene Deitch directed both his own films and cartoons outsourced from American studios such as MGM, Columbia Pictures (UPA), 20th Century Fox (Terrytoons), Paramount (Nudnik), and King Features (Popeye).
Rembrandt Films is a Czech production company founded by American film producer William L. Snyder in 1933. It began as an importer of films from Europe and expanded into animated film production.
The Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit is a Tom and Jerry animated short film, produced and released on August 10, 1962. It was the ninth cartoon in a series of thirteen to be directed by Gene Deitch and produced by William L. Snyder in Czechoslovakia.
Alice of Wonderland in Paris or Alice in a New Wonderland is a 1966 Czech-American animated film directed by Gene Deitch and produced by William L. Snyder in extreme limited animation.
Events in 1962 in animation.
Nudnik was a Czechoslovak/Czech animated film series directed by Gene Deitch, produced by William Lawrence Snyder, and distributed by Paramount Studios. Twelve shorts were released during 1965 and 1967. The character's tagline is "Whatever can go wrong with Nudnik, will go wrong."
Events in 1956 in animation.
Events in 1947 in animation.
Gene Deitch, who turns 95 next month, is by some distance the US citizen longest resident in Prague.
Short Subject (Cartoon): Winner – Munro, William L. Snyder, Producer
These shorts are some of the series' most controversial, as the animation style differs from the rest of the series, and critics of the time called them the worst of the entire series. Gene Deitch said that, despite the critics, he regularly had fans write and tell him that his shorts were among their personal favorites.