Don Lusk, an animator and director who worked on Disney classics including Fantasia, Bambi and Pinocchio before moving to Hanna-Barbera in the 1960s, died Sunday. He was 105. His longtime friend Navah-Paskowitz Asner, announced the news on social media.
Born on October 28, 1913, in Los Angeles, Lusk was just 20 when he joined the Walt Disney Company just after the Great Depression, as its animation studio was riding high on Mickey Mouse shorts. He would work on those cartoons for his first several years there before contributing to Disney’s second and third toon features, 1940’s Pinocchio and Fantasia. For the latter, Lusk worked on the classic “Nutcracker Suite” and “Pastoral Symphony” segments.
He went on to draw for cartoons and such classic Disney features as Song of the South, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians, among others.
In 1960, Lusk moved to Hanna-Barbera Productions, which would be a major force in TV animation. There he drew cartoons for such memorable characters as Woody Woodpecker, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Finn, Atom Ant, Chilly Willy and the Beary Family.
In the late 1960s, Lusk began working on Peanuts TV specials including A Boy Named Charlie Brown; It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown; Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown; and It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown.
Lusk continued to work in animation into the 1990s, working on such series as The Jetsons revival — he had drawn for one episode of the original 1960s show — Adventures of the Gummi Bears and multiple episodes of Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
During his 60-year career — which including receiving the ASIFA-Hollywood’s career honor, the Winsor McCay Award in 2014 — Lusk also directed hundreds of episodes of television starting in the mid-1980s. He helmed more than 130 episodes of the 1980s classic The Smurfs, earning back-to-back Daytime Emmy noms for Outstanding Animated Program. He also scored a nom in the same category in 1990 for A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and directed for such toon such series as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures, Yo Yogi!, Gravedale High, Jonny Quest, The Flintstone Kids, Challenge of the GoBots and The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo.
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