Gene Deitch, Oscar-Winning Animator, Filmmaker, Dies at 95

Gene Deitch

Deitch’s movie 'Munro' won the Academy Award for best animated short film in 1960. He also was nominated for the same award twice in 1964 for 'Here’s Nudnik' and 'How to Avoid Friendship.'

Gene Deitch, an Oscar-winning illustrator, animator, film director and producer, has died. He was 95.

His Czech publisher, Petr Himmel, told the Associated Press that Deitch died unexpectedly during the night from Thursday to Friday in his apartment in Prague’s Little Quarter neighborhood. No further details were given.

Deitch’s movie Munro won the Academy Award for best animated short film in 1960. He also was nominated for the same award twice in 1964 for Here’s Nudnik and How to Avoid Friendship.

Earlier, Deitch had created the Tom Terrific series, while the short Sidney’s Family Tree, which he co-produced, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1958.

Born on Aug. 8, 1924, in Chicago, Deitch arrived in Prague in 1959, intending to stay for 10 days, but fell in love with his future wife, Zdenka, and stayed in the Czechoslovakian capital.

Working from behind the Iron Curtain, he directed 13 episodes of Tom and Jerry and also some of the Popeye the Sailor series.

Deitch captured life in communist Czechoslovakia and later in the Czech Republic after the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution in his memoirs For the Love of Prague.

In 2004, he received the Winsor McCay Award for his lifelong contribution to animation.

Deitch is survived by his wife and by three sons from his first marriage, all of whom are cartoonists and illustrators.