Daniel Gerson, Screenwriter on 'Monsters, Inc.' and Its Prequel, Dies at 49

Courtesy of Gerson Family
Daniel Gerson

He also co-wrote the Oscar-winning 'Big Hero 6' with his frequent writing partner, Robert L. Baird.

Daniel Gerson, who co-wrote the screenplays for Big Hero 6 and the two Monsters, Inc. films and contributed to several other Pixar/Disney animated movies, has died. He was 49.

Gerson died Saturday of brain cancer at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced.

Gerson and his frequent writing partner, Robert L. Baird, collaborated on the 2013 prequel Monsters University.

Gerson also teamed with Baird (and Jordan Roberts) on the screenplay for Big Hero 6 (2014) — which grossed $658 million worldwide and won the Oscar for best animated feature — and the pair assisted on such films as Chicken Little (2005), Cars (2006), Open Season (2006), Meet the Robinsons (2007), Up (2009) and Inside Out (2015).

After Gerson and Andrew Stanton wrote Monsters, Inc. (2001), he and Baird did the script for Monsters University. Those two films raked in more than $1.3 billion at the box office.

“We had never written a prequel, and when we looked at the prequels out there, there weren’t that many, and the ones that were out there weren’t great,” Gerson, a BAFTA award winner and three-time Annie Award nominee, said in a 2013 interview.

“[The challenge was], how do we get people to come along on this journey even though they know where we’re ending up? … If we’ve done our job, the audience will get so invested it’s still going to be somewhat of a surprise.”

Gerson also provided both high-pitched voices for the company janitors Needleman and Smitty in Monsters, Inc., and he played the desk sergeant in Big Hero 6.

He and Baird met in 1998 and began writing together in 2000.

Gerson was raised on the Upper West Side as a third-generation New Yorker and attended Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx, Cornell University and then film school at NYU, where he received his masters.

He began his career as a staff writer on the 1996-98 NBC-ABC sitcom Something So Right, starring Mel Harris and Jere Burns, and also wrote for the TV shows Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man and The New Addams Family.

Survivors include his wife of 20 years, Beau Stacom; his children Claire and Asher; his parents Mary-Joan and Charles; and his sister Jessica and her children Daisy and Henry.

A service will be held in Los Angeles. Donations in his memory may be made to Dr. Linda Liau at the Brain Tumor Program at UCLA.

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