Oscar-winning illustrator and legendary Tom & Jerry director Gene Deitch has died aged 95.
Gene passed away in his apartment in Prague on Thursday, April 16, though no cause of death has yet been given.
His Czech publisher, Petr Himmel, confirmed the news, saying Gene died ‘unexpectedly’.
Gene, whose full name was Eugene Merrill Deitch, worked as a draftsman for North American Aviation before being drafted for the military and entering pilot training. He was discharged for medical reasons in 1944 and went back to work in the commercial art world, after which his animation career took off.
In 1958, Deitch was nominated for an Academy Award for his film Sidney’s Family Tree. He went on to the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film Munro in 1960, and was nominated another two times in the same category in 1964 for Here’s Nudnik and How to Avoid Friendship.
During his career, Gene worked as creative director at of Terrytoons, under 20th Century Fox, where he created characters like Sidney the Elephant, Gaston Le Crayon, Clint Clobber and Terr’ble Thompson.
He went on to work with Rembrandt Films through the 1960s to produce a number of Popeye cartoons, as well as a dozen Tom and Jerry shorts for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
He also co-produced and directed a series of King Features’ Krazy Kat shorts for TV, and created an original kids’ series called The Bluffers.
Gene is survived by his wife and three sons from his first marriage. Rest in peace.