There Was More to Gene Deitch than Tom and Jerry

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There Was More to Gene Deitch than Tom and Jerry

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

2020 hasn’t been off to a great start, with the anti-CAA protests, coronavirus, global lockdown and whatnot. And the year comes bearing another heartbreaking news. Gene Deitch, the Oscar-winning illustrator and legendary Tom and Jerry director, is no more. He passed away at the age of 95 in his apartment in Prague on April 16. According to his Czech publisher, Petr Himmel, Gene died “unexpectedly”.

During his long and illustrious career Deitch, whose movie Munro won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1960, worked with Rembrandt Films to produce a number of spinach-eating sailor Popeye cartoons and went on to direct 13 Tom and Jerry shorts for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The news of his death comes as a heartbreak for millions the worldover from whom Tom and Jerry summed up their childhood.

The internet thanked the legend for making their “childhood awesome”.

And for giving the world “memorable cartoons” that are forever going to stay in our hearts.

Gene’s works will continue to entertain generations to come. Live on, legend.

Deitch also worked as a Creative Director at Terrytoons, under 20th Century Fox, where he went on to create characters like Sidney the Elephant, Gaston Le Crayon, Clint Clobber, and Terr’ble Thompson. The first animated Hobbit was directed by Deitch in the 1960s. Besides winning the Academy Award in 1960, Deitch was nominated for Best Animated Short Film another three times in the same category in 1958 for Sidney’s Family Tree, and in 1964 for Here’s Nudnik and How to Avoid Friendship.

We may have lost a great mind that only helped further our own imagination, but Deitch will remain a childhood legend of the past, present and the future to come. Rest in peace, Gene Deitch.

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