Tom & Jerry and Popeye Director Gene Deitch Dies Aged 95

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The iconic director, and creator of so much joy, Gene Deitch, has passed away aged 95.

Deitch was perhaps most famous for directing Tom and Jerry, as well as Popeye, however, his career was much greater than just that.

The Oscar winner passed away ‘unexpectedly’ in his apartment.

Keep scrolling to learn more about the life and death of one of the key figures in animation.

Rest in peace.

The iconic film maker Gene Deitch has tragically passed away at the age of the 95.

Although his career spanned decades, Deitch is perhaps best known as the director of many Tom and Jerry classics.

Deitch brought so much laughter to the world through his work on Tom & Jerry, while working for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  

Around the same time in his career, Deitch directed numerous Popeye cartoons, about the Spinach eating sailorman!

Born Eugene Merrill Deitch in Chicago, of Czech origin, Deitch initially worked for North American Aviation before being drafted for the military and entering pilot training.

At North American Aviation, Deitch met his first love and wife, Marie, whom he had three sons with.

Shockingly, at just 19-years-old Deitch got pneumonia and was honorably discharged from the armed forces for health reasons.

Following his discharge, Deitch began submitting artwork and front covers to different magazines in the US, receiving some recognition.

And before long he was the creative director of Terrytoons creating such characters as Sidney the Elephant, Gaston Le Crayon, and Clint Clobber.

And the success The Real-Great Adventures of Terr’ble Thompson!, Hero of History, led to a daily strip.

In early 1958, his theatrical cartoon Sidney’s Family Tree was nominated for an Academy Award – but didn’t win the big prize.

Deitch won the Academy Award for his film Munro!

But instead of taking it as a knock, Deitch decided to set up his own studio.

He moved back to Prague, Czechoslovakia, and after just a few days he met Zdenka Najmanová, who would go on to become his second wife.

In his memoir, For the Love of Prague, Deitch claims he was the ‘only free American living and working in Prague during 30 years of the Communist Party dictatorship’.

Deitch claims he was constantly followed by the StB and that his phone was tapped, however at the time he was not aware of their presence, and claims he was never arrested or interrogated.

And from 1969 until his retirement in 2008, Deitch was the leading animation director for the Connecticut organization Weston Woods Studios, adapting children’s picture books.

From Drummer Hoff in 1969 to Voyage to the Bunny Planet in 2008.

Back in 2003, Deitch was awarded the Annie Awards’ Winsor McCay Award by ASIFA-Hollywood for a lifetime contribution to the art of animation

After all that work, and bringing so much joy to the world, Deitch thoroughly deserved the huge award.

At his apartment in Prague, Deitch tragically passed away on April 16.

While an official cause of death has not yet been released, his publisher, Petr Himmel, claimed that his death was completely unexpected.

And the three sons from his first marriage, Kim, Simon, and Seth.

Carrying on their fathers legacy, his three sons all work as writers and artists.

Your life’s work will no continue to make millions of children and adults alike laugh for many more years to come.

Our thoughts go out to Deitch’s family and friends at this hard, hard time. Rest in peace.