Wednesday, September 03, 2008
RIP Bill Melendez
I have spent the last week reading a biography of Charles Schulz. It is an excellent in depth look at one of the greatest cartoonists of all time. It goes into great detail in what made Schulz tick. It talks about his family life including many things I was unaware of.
Anyway, one of the people who cooperated with the author David Michalis was animator Bill Melendez. Some of the funnier anecdotes were my Melendez. So I was sad to hear that he died.
He was responsible for bringing the gang of the Peanuts comic strip to animated life. He had worked with all the great animated studios, Disney, Warner Brothers and UPA back in the late 30's, 40's and 50's. With the downturn of the studio cartoons in the late 50's Bill Melendez formed his own company and worked on many commercial ads. One of the ads was for the Ford Falcon. It involved animating some recently licensed characters. Those characters were the Peanuts gang. They were very well received. Melendez also animated sequences for a Charles Schulz television profile.
After that they were approached to make a half hour special that would become "A Charlie Brown Christmas" It involved limited animation done in a free form style. They made the decision to use actual children's voices. They used a Jazz score and a Bible verse. All were risks that paid off spectacularly.
Melendez helmed 75 Peanuts specials and four full length features. He also did an animated version of "The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe".
He continued to work on Peanuts after Charles Schulz died. Plus, he created the voices of Snoopy and Woodstock. He was 91 years old. A legend.