Bob McIntosh passed away on June 17, 2010 at the age of 94. Born on March 11, 1916 in Vallejo, California, and raised in Stockton, Bob discovered painting at an early age. Encouraged by Harry Noyes Pratt, the director of Stockton’s then-newly opened Haggin Museum, and mentored by local painter Arthur Haddock, McIntosh applied for a scholarship to Art Center in Los Angeles. He moved with his family to LA in 1934 to attend the school, and afterwards was hired at Disney where he worked on a number of the studio’s features, including Bambi for which he painted multiplane backgrounds directly onto glass. He was drafted into the First Motion Picture Unit during WWII. Following the war, he joined Paul J. Fennell’s commercial studio Cartoon Films Ltd. where he worked on contemporary looking commercials (along with designer Ed Benedict) that prefigured the move towards cartoon modernism in the 1950s.
He joined UPA in the early-1950s and stayed there for the entire decade, primarily painting backgrounds for the Mister Magoo series. This is what I wrote about his work in Cartoon Modern: “McIntosh worked in perhaps the most simplified style of any of the UPA background painters. His ‘poster style’ background paintings used minimal rendering techniques and clean geometric shapes, recalling the work of artists like Stuart Davis and Fernand Léger.” After UPA, Bob painted backgrounds on The Alvin Show and The Lone Ranger at Format Films, George of the Jungle for Jay Ward Productions, and Chuck Jones’s The Phantom Tollbooth, among other projects, before retiring in the early-1980s.
It was a pleasure to get to know Bob while I was writing Cartoon Modern and I kept in touch with him over the last few years of his life. Bob had an admirably unwavering commitment to painting. Though his career in animation stretched over forty years, animation wasn’t his primary passion; it was painting that excited him, and animation provided a steady income allowing him to do what he loved best. He had exhibited his personal artwork since the 1940s, and his lifelong passion for painting resulted in hundreds of canvases in almost every single imaginable style. In his final years, when painting became difficult, he continued to create painted collage canvases. A wonderful life-spanning selection of his paintings can be seen at the Trigg Ison gallery website which represents his work.