Gene Deitch

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Gene Deitch
Gene Deitch.jpg
Born (1924-08-08) August 8, 1924 (age 91)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Illustrator, animator, director
Years active 1945–2006
Spouse(s) Marie Deitch (m. 1943–?)
Zdenka Deitchova (née Najmanová; m. 1964–present)
Children 3 including Kim Deitch

Eugene Merril "Gene" Deitch (born August 8, 1924)[1] is an American illustrator, animator and film director. Based in Prague since 1959, Deitch is known for creating animated cartoons such as Munro, Tom Terrific, and Nudnik, as well as his work on the Popeye and Tom and Jerry series.

Early life and career[edit]

Deitch was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of salesman Joseph Deitch and Ruth Delson Deitch.[2] In 1929, the family moved to California, and Deitch attended school in Hollywood. He graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1942, and began working for North American Aviation, drawing aircraft blueprints. In 1943, Deitch was drafted and underwent pilot training before catching pneumonia and being honorably discharged in May of the following year.[2]

Beginning his cartooning and animation career, Deitch contributed covers and interior art to the jazz magazine The Record Changer.[2]

Animation career[edit]

Deitch took a position at the animation studio United Productions of America (UPA) and later became the creative director of Terrytoons,[2] creating such characters as Sidney the Elephant,[3] Gaston Le Crayon,[4] John Doormat,[citation needed] and Clint Clobber.[5] In 1959 he founded Gene Deitch Associates, Inc., which primarily produced television. commercials.[2]

When client Rembrandt Films[6] promised to fund Munro, an animated theatrical short Deitch wanted to create, Deitch relocated to the company's base in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in October 1959.[2] During the following decade, he collaborated with Rembrandt produce Popeye cartoons for television with King Features, as well as 13 new Tom and Jerry shorts for MGM,[6][7] despite Deitch's misgiving about the latter character, whom he has cited 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."[8] Despite the criticism, some fans wrote positive letters to Deitch, stating that his Tom and Jerry shorts were their personal favorites.[9] Deitch's short film Munro won an Academy Award for Animated Short Film in 1961,[10] the first short composed outside of the United States to be so honored.[11]

With producer William L. Snyder, Deitch co-produced directed a series of TV shorts of Krazy Kat for King Features 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.[12]

From 1968 until his retirement in 2006, Deitch was 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. Deitch's memoir, For the Love of Prague, is based on his experience of being what he called "the only free American living and working in Prague during 30 years of the Communist Party dictatorship."[13]

In 2003, Deitch was awarded the Annie Awards' Windsor McCay Award by ASIFA-Hollywood for a lifetime contribution to the art of animation.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Deitch met his first wife, Marie, when they both worked at North American Aviation, and they married in 1943.[2] Their three sons,[2] Kim, Simon, and Seth Deitch, are artists and writers for underground comix and alternative comics.[15]

Some time after arriving in Prague in October 1959, Deitch met Zdenka Najmanová, the production manager at the studio where he worked. They married in 1964.[2]


  1. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (2006). Who's Who in Animated Cartoons (Illustrated ed.). New York City: Applause Theatre and Cinema Books. pp. 62–64. ISBN 978-1-55783-671-7. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Gene Deitch (born Eugene Merril Deitch), 1924". National Czech and Slovak Museum. Archived from the original on September 12, 2015. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 
  3. ^ Sidney the Elephant at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on January 20, 2015.
  4. ^ Gaston Le Crayon at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 16, 2012.
  5. ^ Clint Clobber at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 16, 2012.
  6. ^ a b MacDougall, Kent (June 11, 1962). "Popeye, Tom & Jerry Join Trend to Shift Production Overseas". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 17, 2010. 
  7. ^ Christopher, P. Lehman (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. 
  8. ^ Deitch, Gene (2001). "Tom & Jerry: The First Reincarnation". How To Succeed in Animation. Animation World Network. Archived from the original on September 14, 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  9. ^ North, Jonathan (June 21, 2015). "‘Tom and Jerry: The Gene Deitch Collection’ – DVD Review". Archived from the original on September 12, 2015. Retrieved November 6, 2015. 
  10. ^ "The 33rd Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on October 15, 2015. Retrieved November 6, 2015. Short Subject (Cartoon): Winner - Munro, William L. Snyder, Producer 
  11. ^ "Anatomy of an Oscar" Occasional Deitch 2007, page 3, retrieved [2007-11-04].
  12. ^ "William L. Snyder". Gene Deitch. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  13. ^ Deitch, G., For the Love of Prague, 6th edition (Prague: John Caullkins, 2015).
  14. ^ "Windsor McCay Award". Annie Awards / ASIFA-Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 12, 2015. Retrieved November 3, 2007. 
  15. ^ Kim Deitch at the Lambiek Comiclopedia. Retrieved on November 12, 2013. Archived from the original on September 7, 2013.

External links[edit]