Thursday, September 4, 2008
Rest in Peace, Mr. Melendez
Like most folks of my generation, my introduction to art came in the form of hand-drawn animation: the movies and tv specials that peppered each year. I was sad this morning to hear of the passing of Bill Melendez, one of the great ones, known most of all as the animator of 70 "Peanuts" films and tv specials. He was Charles Schultz's number one guy for bringing his characters to animated life. "Charlie Brown Christmas" and "The Great Pumpkin" (my personal favorite) are just two of his creations; he won five Emmy awards for his "Peanuts" specials. He also won Emmys as the animator of the first "Garfield" and "Cathy" tv specials, and two Emmys for the animated version of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" (which I remember very well) in 1979. Before partnering with Charles Schultz, Melendez worked for Warner Bros. animation studios and Disney. Before leaving Disney in 1941, Melendez drew for "Pinocchio," "Fantasia," "Bambi," and "Dumbo."
You can read more about Melendez's remarkable career here in his Washington Post obituary. Each time we lose one of the classic great animators, I can't help but think: they don't make 'em like they used to.