Robert Balser, animation director for The Beatles’ trippy animated musical Yellow Submarine who also worked on other iconic animated projects including Heavy Metal died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles of respiratory failure. He was 88.
Born in 1927, Balser enjoyed a varied career stretching back to the 1950s. Among his work, the animated end titles from Around The World In 80 Days, the animated Jackson Five TV series from the 1970s, and The Glorious Muskateers. He served as a sequence director on the animated 1979 television adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and served as animation supervisor on five episodes of the 1980s The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. Notably, he also animated the “Den” sequence on the cult animated anthology film Heavy Metal, inspired by the popular comics magazine: the segment starred John Candy as the voice of the title character.
But it is for Yellow Submarine that he is most well-remembered. Sharing Animation Director credit with Jack Stokes, he oversaw a production that included 200 artists working on a tight, 11-month schedule on a relative shoestring budget of $1 million. He later launched his own outfit, Pegbar Productions, in Spain.