On April 16 Gene passed away in Prague in his apartment. Until this day, no one has given the cause of his death.
Petr Himmel, his Czech publisher announced the tragic news. According to him, Gene died ‘unexpectedly’. The news was also confirmed on Twitter, and many fans of his work were devastated.
R.I.P Gene Deitch (1924-2020) pic.twitter.com/QOTDmZgAq3
— Down the Inkwell (@DownInkwell) April 17, 2020
Gene’s full name was Eugene Merrill Deitch and in his early days, he worked for North American Aviation as a draftsman. Later, he was drafted for the military and entering pilot training. In 1944 Gene was discharged because of medical reasons started working again in the commercial art world. That was the time when his animation career blasts off.
For his work on his film Sidney’s Family Tree, Deitch was nominated for an Academy Award in 1958. In the year 1960, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for the film Munro, and four years later in 1964, he was nominated in the same category for How to Avoid Friendship and Here’s Nudnik.
Deitch expanded his career and started working as creative director at of Terrytoons, under 20th Century Fox. There, he created many well-known characters such as Gaston Le Crayon, Clint Clobber, Sidney the Elephant, and Terr’ble Thompson.
In the 1960s, he was worked with Rembrandt Films where he produced numerous Popeye cartoons. In the meantime, he worked for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on dozens of Tom and Jerry shorts.
He was a co-producer and director of Krazy Kat shorts – a series of King Features for TV. Deitch also created a series called The Bluffers which is an original kids’ series.
Gene left the world richer with his shows and series. We will never forget his amazing work, as he directed cartoons that fulfilled our childhood. You won’t be forgotten. Rest in peace.