Maurice Sendak Remembered as a Cartoon Industry Giant

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TORONTO – Veteran Canadian cartoon producer Michael Hirsh recalls kids book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who died early Tuesday, aged 83 years, as an enduring TV industry icon.

"To those of us who have worked in children's storytelling all of our lives, Maurice Sendak was the giant--our Tolstoy, our Einstein, our Ghandi, our Mozart,” Hirsh told The Hollywood Reporter.

While with Nelvana during the 1990s, Hirsh produced Little Bear, a TV version of books Sendak illustrated early in his career.

He recalled Sendak, as an executive producer on the Nickelodeon cartoon series, being very hands on, not least with a sewing needle.

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"One of those moments I will always remember was Toy Fair 1995, in the Gund showroom, and Maurice was sitting in a corner and taking apart the prototype for the Little Bear stuffed bear because he was dissatisfied, and stitching it back together himself,” Hirsh remembered Tuesday.

Sendak executive produced two more Nelvana TV series, George and Martha for YTV and HBO, based on James Marshall's book series, and PBS’ Seven Little Monsters, inspired by another early Sendak book.

"Working with Maurice was a dream come true for all the artists and performers, and he infused the production team with his love for music and design, as well as his emphasis on dealing with the real important thoughts on children's minds, and what made them passionate about his books,” Hirsh, who today runs Cookie Jar Entertainment, said in homage. 

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