Everyone millennial on the planet has grown up watching cartoons that have revolutionized children Television. Amongst the list of these fascinating cartoon shows that glued us to our television seats, there is one that stands out.
Tom and Jerry have been a part our childhood. The cartoon left children captivated and eager for more. It is interesting to see that an irritated cat and a charming mouse, was the most relatable content, kids could find back then. The mastermind behind the creation of these loveable creatures, Gene Deitch passed away at the age of 95.
The Life and Early Career of Gene Deitch
Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1924, Deitch showed an incredible aptitude towards drawing and animation since a very young age. Gene Deitch began his career are as blueprint illustrator for aircrafts in the North American Aviation. He was later drafted in to the army, but could not make it as a pilot due to pneumonia. After being honourably discharged from the military, Deitch went on to creating cover art and illustrations for the popular American Jazz Magazine, ‘The Record Changer’.
A Career in Animation
Deitch began his animation career in 1955 for the United Productions of America (UPA) Studio. The big break in Gene Deitch’s career when Rembrandt Films, based in Prague agreed to fund his project ‘Munro’. The plot revolves around the life of a 4-year-old boy who is accidentally drafted into the army. None of the characters in the film notice that he is just a boy, and he goes on to fight at the border. ‘Munro’ is one of the pioneers of animation films around the world. Deitch went on to win an Oscar for best animated short film in the year 1961.
Deitch’s stay in Prague was supposed to be restricted only till the direction of Munro got over, but he decided to permanently settle their after he met his second wife Zdenka.
Gene Deitch continued to work with Rembrandt Films which led to the creation of the popular show ‘Popeye: The Sailor Man’. The show was a massive success and Deitch popped up on the radar of Television Giant MGM. Between 1961 and 62, Deitch directed 13 episodes of the kids’ show.
‘Tom and Jerry’ was a project that Deitch was reluctant to pursue. He found the violence between the two characters way too much for a children’s cartoon program. After reading the script and directing the first episode, the animator developed a special bond with the characters of the show. He claimed that ‘Tom and Jerry’ was a show that gave people hope. The show sees the little brown mouse, constantly escaping and outsmarting the big cat. Deitch related these two characters to the popular Biblical story involving David and Goliath, adding that the show gives people the confidence that the small and weak character can survive.
In 1969, Gene Deitch started working for Weston Woods Studios that converted children’s picture books into short animated films. He worked there for almost there for almost 4 decades before retiring in 2008 with the release of his last film ‘Voyage to the Bunny Planet’. Deitch was awarded with Annie Awards’ Winsor McCay Award by ASIFA-Hollywood for a lifetime of contribution to the industry art and animation.
Gene Deitch was married twice and had three children with his first wife. All three of his sons are also cartoonists and animators working in Hollywood. While working on ‘Munro’ Deitch met the production manager of the studio, Zdenka Najmanová. The couple got married in 1964 and Deitch permanently settled in Prague.
His memoir, ‘For the love of Prague’ talks about his career as an American Animator is the communist ruled Prague.
Gene Deitch Death
The ‘Tom and Jerry’ director’s death was reported when his Czech publisher, Petr Himmel informed The Associated Press that Deitch had unexpectedly passed away on Thursday night in his apartment. No details were given regarding his death except for the fact that he had been suffering from some intestinal issues.
There has been no evidence that his death has been caused by the Corona Virus and we can only wait for the actual cause of demise.
Social Media websites, especially twitter boomed up with praise and respect for the legendary animator. Lots of people wished his family well and hoped that his work and creations would influence the coming generations as they had influenced them. His legacy is continued by his sons all of whom have ventured into the field of animation.
The death of Gene Deitch at the age of 95 marks the end of an illustrious career. His work has contributed to the rise of animated cartoons across the world that children even today cherish whole heartedly. Deitch’s ‘Tom and Jerry’ is bound to be enjoyed and valued by generations to come.