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August 07, 2013

John David Wilson, Innovative Animator for Five Decades

Wilson's career included award-winning short films, feature films, television projects and music videos

John David Wilson, an animator whose innovative work included short films, feature films, television and music videos, died June 20, 2013, in Blackpool, England. He was 93.

According to news reports, he ha been ill for some time.

Wilson, who was born in 1919 in the WImbledon section of London, was serving in Africa during World War II when a bombing attack resulted in the loss of a leg. After returning to Britain he found work at Pinewood Studios, where he contributed to The Thief of Baghdad and Great Expectations. He then moved to G.B. Animation, a company formed by U.K. mogul J. Arthur Rank as a potential rival to Disney.

After relocating to the U.S., Wilson worked for Disney himself, on such productions as Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp. In 1955 he left to form his own company, Fine Art Films, where he made such notable productions as Tara the Stone Cutter, Petrushka (based on the ballet by composer Igor Stravinsky), which screened at the Venice Film Festival. He also created a special short film, Journey to the Stars, for the NASA Space Pavilion at the 1962 World's Fair.

Also in the 1960s, he contributed to Exploring, an NBC News series that won a Peabody Award.

In 1971 he created an animated companion to the Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi," an early permutation of the music video. In the same year he produced and directed the animated feature Shinbone Alley, based on the works of poet Don Marquis.

He also created many special animation sequences for such variety television series as The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour and The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show.

Additional projects of note included animated credit sequences for the films Irma La Douce and Grease.

In later years he worked on the made-for-TV movie Stanley, the Ugly Duckling and various animated series, including Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars!, Space Cats and Madeline.

Read more about WIlson's life and work at:

Hollywood Reporter

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