August 8, 1924 |
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Occupation||Illustrator, animator, director|
|Spouse(s)||Marie Deitch (?-1960)
Zdenka Deitch (1960-present)
|Children||Kim Deitch, Simon Deitch, Seth Deitch|
Eugene Merril "Gene" Deitch (born August 8, 1924) is an American illustrator, animator and film director. He has been based in Prague, capital of Czechoslovakia and the present-day Czech Republic, since 1959. His film Munro won an Academy Award for Animated Short Film in 1961, the first short composed outside of the United States to be so honored. Since 1968, Deitch has been the leading animation director for the Connecticut organization Weston Woods/Scholastic, adapting children's picture books. His studio is located in Prague near the Barrandov studios where many major films were recorded. In 2003, he was awarded the "Annie" by ASIFA Hollywood for a lifetime contribution to the art of animation. Deitch married his wife Zdenka in 1960. His sons Kim Deitch, Simon Deitch, and Seth Deitch are prominent artists and writers in the underground comix and alternative comics movements. He currently resides with his wife in Prague, where he is retired but continues to write memoir material from his 65-year career in animation filmmaking. His memoir, For the Love of Prague, based on the experience of being "the only free American living and working in Prague during 30 years of the Communist Party dictatorship."
From 1945 to 1951 Deitch was primary graphics contributor, and eventually art director, for The Record Changer, a jazz magazine. He was also an amateur sound recordist, who made tape recordings of artists like John Lee Hooker and Pete Seeger. His home recordings of Connie Converse in the mid-1950s, led to her rediscovery forty years later.
Deitch has produced animated cartoons for studios such as UPA/Columbia Pictures, Terrytoons/20th Century Fox (Tom Terrific), MGM (Tom and Jerry), and Paramount Pictures (Nudnik, Popeye). He directed, with producer William L. Snyder, a series of made for TV shorts of Krazy Kat for King Features Television from 1962 to 1964. The Bluffers, which was based on one of Deitch's ideas, was also co-produced by him. He directed the 1966 film Alice of Wonderland in Paris, and a one-reel animation film of "The Hobbit" in 1966, the first film ever made of a Tolkien story.
In 1960, Deitch and Rembrandt Films, after collaborating in a pool of producers that made the Popeye 1960's season for television by King Features, arranged a deal with MGM to revive the Tom and Jerry franchise overseas in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Deitch states that, being a member of the UPA, he has always had a personal dislike of Tom and Jerry, citing them as the "primary bad example of senseless violence - humor based on pain - attack and revenge - to say nothing of the tasteless use of a headless black woman stereotype house servant." Štěpán Koníček, a student of Karel Ančerl and conductor of the Film Symphony Orchestra, and Václav Lídl provided the musical score for the Deitch short, while Larz Bourne, Chris Jenkyns, and Eli Bauer wrote the cartoons. The majority of vocal effects and voices in Deitch's films were provided by Allen Swift.
All thirteen T&J shorts were commercial successes with the public, but many film critics panned them. When asked about working on the Tom and Jerry series, Deitch responded "All the experts say [my shorts are] the worst of the 'Tom and Jerry's, [...] But many fans write me, saying mine were "The best!" I was a UPA man—my whole background was much closer to the UPA view of humor. 'Tom and Jerry' I always considered dreck, but they had great timing, facial expressions, double takes, squash and stretch," all of which the interviewer stated were "techniques the Czechs had to learn. The Czech style had nothing in common with these gag-driven cartoons.
- Lenburg, Jeff (2006). Who's who in animated cartoons: an international guide to film & television's award-winning and legendary animators (Illustrated ed.). New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. pp. 62–64. ISBN 978-1-55783-671-7.
- Annie Awards Winsor McCay recipient 2003 retrieved 2007-11-03.
- "Rare Tom & Jerry Cell". Rembrandt Films. Retrieved 2010-08-17.
- Brion, p. 34
- MacDougall, Kent (1962-06-11). "Popeye, Tom & Jerry Join Trend to Shift Production Overseas". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-08-17.
- P. Lehman, Christopher (2007). "The Cartoons of 1961–1962". American Animated Cartoons of the Vietnam Era: A Study of Social Commentary in Films and Television Programs, 1961–1973. McFarland & Company. pp. 23–24. ISBN 978-0-7864-2818-2.
- Deitch, Gene (2001). "Tom & Jerry: The First Reincarnation". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
- Grimes, William (2010-04-27). "Allen Swift, Voice Actor for Radio and TV, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
- Nessel, Jen (1998-08-09). "...a spicy, funny memoir!". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-17.
- Gene Deitch official site
- The 65 Greats in my 65-year animation career
- Gene Deitch at the Internet Movie Database
- Howdy Doody lost work
- "How to succeed in animation" - a long teaching online book by Gene Deitch
- Biography of Gene Deitch from the Cartoon Hall of Fame of ASIFA-Hollywood