On Thursday, American animator and film director Gene Deitch passed away in his apartment in Prague, according to his Czech publisher. He was 95 years old. The cause of his death was not given.
Deitch’s film Munro won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1960. He was also nominated for the same award twice in 1964 for Here’s Nudnik and How to Avoid Friendship. In 2004, Deitch received the Winsor McCay Award for his lifelong contribution to animation.
His earlier, notable credits include the black and white Tom Terrific short, which was presented as part of the Captain Kangaroo children’s television show. The five-minute short was created under the Terrytoons studio and adapted from an earlier Deitch comic strip. It featured a young boy who lived in a treehouse and could transform into anything with the help of his magical thinking cap.
Deitch also co-produced Sidney’s Family Tree, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1958. For American audiences, he directed 13 episodes of Tom and Jerry and a few episodes of Popeye the Sailor.
Deitch was born on Aug. 8, 1924, in Chicago. He made a visit to Prague in 1959 originally planning to stay for a few days, but extended the trip after falling in love with his future wife, Zdenka. During this time in Czechoslovakia, which later became the capital city of modern day Czech Republic, Deitch recorded his memories in a memoir titled For the Love of Prague.
Deitch is survived by his wife and three sons, who have followed in their father’s footsteps as cartoonists.