Bud Luckey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bud Luckey
William Everett Luckey

(1934-07-28)July 28, 1934
DiedFebruary 24, 2018(2018-02-24) (aged 83)
Resting placeYellowstone Valley Memorial Park, Montana, U.S.
EducationChouinard Art Institute
Alma materUniversity of Southern California
Occupation(s)Animator, artist, cartoonist, composer, illustrator, musician, singer, voice actor
Years active1961–2014
EmployerPixar Animation Studios (1992–2014)
ChildrenAndy Luckey
AwardsAnnie Award (2004)
Clio Award (1966)
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service1953–1957
UnitUnited States Air Force

William Everett "Bud" Luckey (July 28, 1934 – February 24, 2018) was an American artist, cartoonist, illustrator, musician, singer and voice actor. He worked at the animation studio Pixar, where he worked as a character designer on a number of films, including Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars and Ratatouille. Luckey was also the voice of Rick Dicker in The Incredibles, Chuckles the Clown in Toy Story 3 and as Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh (2011).

In 2004, Luckey directed and wrote the Pixar short film Boundin', for which he also composed music and performed as the solo singer and narrator. It won the Annie Award and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Luckey continued to work as a performer of character voices in both Disney and Pixar films until his retirement in 2014.[1]

Early life[edit]

William Everett Luckey was born in Billings, Montana on July 28, 1934.[2]

During the Korean War, Luckey served in the United States Air Force.[3] He later served as an Artist-Illustrator (a specialty now called "Visual Information Specialist") with the NATO Allied Occupation Forces in Europe and North Africa from 1953 to 1954 and, finally, with the Strategic Air Command from 1954 to 1957.[1]

Among Luckey's Air Force duty stations was Nouasseur Air Base (also known as Nouasseur Air Depot), a nuclear bomber strike base and nuclear weapon storage depot south of Casablanca, Morocco.[4] There, he served with the Third Air Force Air Material Command, Southern District (now part of the Air Force Materiel Command).[3] Additional duty stations were Lackland AFB and Kelly AFB (now collectively part of Joint Base San Antonio), as well as Portland AFB (now known as Portland Air National Guard Base).[4] Through the mid-1960s, he remained an Air Force reservist.[4]


Art school and early career[edit]

After leaving active Air Force duty and with the benefits of the Korean War G.I. Bill, Luckey attended Chouinard Art Institute (which later merged with the California Academy of Music to form California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts)) from 1957 to 1960.[1] He was a Disney scholar, and received professional animation training at the University of Southern California with Disney veteran animator Art Babbitt.[3] After graduation, Luckey worked for a time as Babbitt's assistant / apprentice at Quartet Films in Los Angeles.[4]

In 1961, he served as an animator for The Alvin Show.[1] He also worked as an animator and sequence director on a pilot for Mad magazine television special produced by longtime friends Jimmy T. Murakami and Gordon Bellamy.[3] Luckey would later serve as an animator on The Mouse and His Child and as an uncredited assistant animator on Don Bluth's first animated feature The Secret of NIMH.[1]

Television commercials[edit]

As an advertising agency Art Director and Producer from 1961 to 1969 at the Guild, Bascom, & Bonfigli (Advertising) Agency (which later merged with Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, now Saatchi & Saatchi, in 1967), Luckey worked on television commercials for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes (Tony the Tiger), Froot Loops (Toucan Sam), and Rice Krispies (Snap, Crackle and Pop), as well as Interstate Bakeries' Dolly Madison products featuring Charles M. Schulz' Peanuts characters.[5] He created the "Bosco Dumbunnies" characters for the Best Foods Chocolate Flavor Milk Amplifier product Bosco Chocolate Syrup – the commercial spots were animated by renowned animators Fred Wolf and Jimmy Murakami.[5] In 1966, Luckey won a Clio Award for the General Mills commercial Betty Crocker – "Magic Faucet".[5]

Luckey also worked with Alex Anderson, who created the characters of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Bullwinkle, and Dudley Do-Right, as well as the more obscure Crusader Rabbit. Anderson was the Vice President of Television at the Guild-Bascom-Bonfigli Agency at that time.[1]

Despite its San Francisco location, the Guild-Bascom-Bonfigli Agency was also well known for its work on political campaigns.[5] The agency's Creative Director Maxwell "Bud" Arnold was considered a foremost expert in the budding field of television advertising for politics and Arnold's expertise brought many key political figures to the agency's roster.[5] In that regard, Luckey also did work on the presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Hubert Humphrey, who were clients of the agency during his tenure.[5]

Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts characters such as Charlie Brown and Snoopy were used by the Dancer Fitzgerald Sample agency for its client Interstate Bakeries's products sold under the Dolly Madison brand name.[5] Luckey was placed in charge as the Senior Art Director/Producer for all advertising containing Schulz characters.[6] As a result, Luckey often visited Schulz to review material as well as famed animator Bill Melendez, whose studio produced the animation containing the Schulz characters.[6] Luckey's relationship with Schulz and Melendez was such that after Luckey left the agency in 1969 to form his own animation company, Dancer Fitzgerald Sample contracted him for several years to continue working on the Dolly Madison campaigns featuring Schulz's characters.[5]

While working at the Guild Bascom & Bonfigli / Dancer Fitzgerald Sample agency, Luckey first collaborated with copywriter Don Hadley.[5] The two became lifelong friends until Hadley's death in 2007.[1] After leaving the agency, Hadley and Luckey co-created numerous short films for Sesame Street.[2]

During the mid-1960s, Jim Henson worked with Luckey on commercials.[2] They remained close friends until Henson's death in 1990.[5] That friendship later resulted in Luckey's work on Sesame Street and his illustration work featuring Henson's Muppet characters in the 1970s and 1980s.[5]

Sesame Street[edit]

During the 1970s, Luckey wrote and animated many short films for Sesame Street and the Children's Television Workshop, often doing the voice work himself as well.[7] Among them are "The Ladybugs' Picnic", which was performed by Jim Kweskin, "That's About the Size of It", the Donnie-Bud Series (with co-writer Don Hadley) featuring numbers 2 to 6, "Penny Candy Man", "Martian Beauty", "#7 The Alligator King", (with Turk Murphy) "Lovely Eleven Morning", "The Old Woman Who Lived in a Nine", and the award-winning "Longie and Shorty the Rattlesnakes" miniseries.[8] He returned to work on one more segment for Sesame Street in 1990 titled "Z – Zebu". Many of Luckey's Sesame Street works were created with his long-time friend and creative collaborator writer / lyricist Don Hadley (1936–2007).[2]

Luckey founded his own animation studio titled the Luckey-Zamora Picture Moving Company in the early 1970s and merged its operation with Colossal Pictures in the late 1980s before joining Pixar in 1992.[2] The company then took studio space in the Produce District of San Francisco.[2] In the 1970s and 1980s, it was the largest animation studio in the San Francisco Bay Area.[5]

His film credits included The Extraordinary Adventures of the Mouse and His Child.[1]

He worked on Betty Boop's Hollywood Mystery and did character design for Back to the Future: The Animated Series from 1991 to 1992.[6]


On the 2005 DVD release of Pixar's The Incredibles, in addition to Bud Luckey's Oscar-nominated short Boundin', the studio included a short biography of Luckey entitled "Who is Bud Luckey?".[8] In that video biography, Pixar (and now Disney's) former Creative Executive Vice President John Lasseter declared: "Bud Luckey is one of the true unsung heroes of animation."[7]

In 1992, Luckey joined the studio as the oldest employee and their fifth animator, and also worked as a character designer, storyboard artist, and voice performer for Toy Story and other Pixar movies.[9][10] John Lasseter credits Luckey with the creation and design of the star of Toy Story, Woody, a cowboy.[8] Originally, the character was a ventriloquist's dummy like Edgar Bergen's character Charlie McCarthy.[8] He evolved into a pullstring doll with an empty gun holster.[8]

His character designs can also be seen in A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3.[6][7]

The jackalope, as seen in Boundin'

In 2003, Luckey gained attention for the short film Boundin', which was released theatrically as the opening cartoon for The Incredibles.[1] It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short in 2003.[6] Luckey wrote and designed the short, and also composed the music and lyrics, and sang and performed banjo on the soundtrack for the cartoon.[8] Boundin' won the ASIFA Hollywood Annie Award that same year.[6]

In The Incredibles, Luckey voiced the role of National Supers Agency (NSA) Agent Rick Dicker.[1] In the film's DVD commentary, director Brad Bird jokes that he had an idea to start Boundin' with Rick Dicker coming into his office late at night, pulling out a bottle of "booze" and a banjo to start singing the song about the dancing sheep who is sheared and has his confidence restored by the Jackalope.[8] In the film's sequel, released in June 2018, the role of Agent Dicker was recast with Jonathan Banks as Luckey had retired in 2014.[11] The film was dedicated to Luckey's memory.[12] He also lent his voice to Chuckles the Clown in Toy Story 3 and Hawaiian Vacation.[1]

Other works[edit]

Luckey designed and illustrated more than 100 children's books containing his characters, including the Golden Book Mater and the Ghostlight, which featured the Cars character Mater.[6]

He was featured in the 2011 film Winnie the Pooh as the voice of Eeyore.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Luckey was the father of animator/director/producer Andy Luckey, best known as a producer of the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.[1]

On February 24, 2018, Luckey died in his home in Newtown, Connecticut of a stroke at the age of 83. Incredibles 2 was dedicated to his memory with Jonathan Banks taking over his voice role as Rick Dicker.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Bartlett, Rhett (February 25, 2018). "Bud Luckey, Oscar-Nominated Animator Who Designed Woody for 'Toy Story,' Dies at 83". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Bud Luckey". Montana Kids. Montana Office of Tourism. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d "Animator & Voice Actor Bud Luckey Dies Age 83". Animation Magazine. February 25, 2018. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Dawson, Jeff (December 14, 2004). "They're Playing His Toons". The Times Online. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "He started drawing 66 years ago. Now at Pixar – amid young talent – he's up for an Oscar for a short movie". SF Gate. February 13, 2004. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Bud Luckey, Creator & Designer of Toy Story's Woody, Dies at 83". Movieweb. February 25, 2018. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "Bud Luckey Dies: The 'Toy Story' Character Designer, 'Sesame Street' Animator Was 83". Deadline. February 25, 2018. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Who Is Bud Luckey? special features, The Incredibles 2-disc collector's edition DVD, 2004.
  9. ^ Bud Luckey, Pixar animator who designed Woody from ‘Toy Story,’ dies at 83
  10. ^ RIP: Bud Luckey, A Key Part Of Pixar's Creative Team
  11. ^ "'Incredibles 2' Reveals New Cast, Character Details". The Hollywood Reporter. January 22, 2018.
  12. ^ Tenreyro, Tatiana. "'Incredibles 2' Has A Touching Dedication To A Pixar Animating Legend". Bustle. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  13. ^ Russ Fischer (November 10, 2010). "First Look: The Big-Screen Return of 'Winnie the Pooh'". /Film. Retrieved November 13, 2010.

External links[edit]