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Rudy Larriva (1916-2010)

Variety is reporting that veteran Warner Bros. director Rudy Larriva passed away last Friday Feb. 19 in Irvine, Calif. He was 94.

Larriva, an animator for nearly six decades, worked primarily at Warner Bros. in the 1930s and 40s, recieving animation credit on several cartoons including the seminal Chuck Jones cartoon, Elmer’s Pet Rabbit (1941). He later joined Disney (Song of the South, Melody Time) and spent the 1950s at UPA (Mr. Magoo). He is credited as the animation director for the opening credits of The Twilight Zone in 1959-60. He spent much of his later years toiling on TV series for Ruby Spears and other studios. His greatest claim to fame, unfortunately, was his direction of several low budget Road Runner cartoons for DePatie Freleng in the mid-1960s. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. March 1 at Eternal Hills Cemetery, Oceanside, Calif.

(Thanks, Joe Apel)

  • Jay Sabicer

    I believe Rudy was the last of the Warner theatrical directors (but please, correct me, if I’m wrong). Although his later work really didn’t do much for me, it still can be said that an era has truly ended. Are there any old-time cartoon directors left from any of the other studios? Not to be morbid, just wondering.

  • This is so weird. I was just talking with Fibber Fox about Larriva still being with us (I thought he had died a long time ago actually).

    Was Larriva ever interviewed at all, and did he ever discuss the Ropad Runner cartoons he made?

    RIP Rudy.

  • That’s all, Folks!

    (Redundant, but still…)

  • Mark Kausler

    Very sad to hear the news of Rudy. He was one of my teachers at Chouinard. He taught me a lot about animation timing, including how to do a staggered shiver on a little dog I was animating at the time. Rudy told me to really ANIMATE the shiver from pose to pose, not just do a cycle with quivering lines. He was directing at Filmation when I met him. He was rather apologetic about his Road Runner cartoons. He knew they weren’t as good as Chuck’s. Although he didn’t have anything kind to say about the animation (he blamed the budgets), he praised his cameraman Ray Thursby, for covering up the lack of cels with smooth and expressive camera moves. Ray also did the camera work on “Icrarus Montgolfier Wright” and “The Hangman”, both independent films produced in the late 1960s. They were still artwork with the beautiful Thursby pans and trucks to bring them to life. I remember that Rudy also enjoyed animating the character “Little Toot” in Melody Time, and was a good friend of Gus Arriola, who worked a caricature of Rudy into “Gordo” in the early 1950s. I wish I’d known that Rudy was still alive all these years, if I had, I would have gotten in touch with him. My late friend, Vincent Davis was a good friend of Rudy’s as well. I never heard from Rudy again after graduation from Chouinard. I wish I’d had the intelligence and knowledge of animation to ask him more questions when he was my instructor. Adios, Rest in Peace Rudy.

  • Rudy was also an episode director at Format for “The Alvin Show” for Ross Bagdasarian.

  • bob kurtz

    mark,you are so right. rudy was a really a nice sweet talented guy. i had a chance to work with rudy at format films where he was one of the three
    directors on the alvin show. rudy was a pleasure to work with. we did have fun together. and mark, you are right again on ray thursby who was a whiz on the camera and who i had many opportunities to work including “icrarus montgolfier wright”. and so my friend… Rudy, Rest in Peace.

  • Bwana Henderson

    Rudy Larriva worked on both the original Chipmunks series and the 1983 Ruby-Spears version.

    As for other classic era director/animators, Art Leonardi is still with us.

  • Bob

    The Road Runner cartoons Rudy Larriva directed actually were farmed out to Format Films, as were the three1967 Daffy-Speedy films that were made after relations between Warner Brothers and DePatie Freleng were severed.

  • Brad Constantine

    Rest in Peace, Rudy!! He was a generous man who came down to San Diego and talked to our Cartoonist group a few times. Had great stories to tell, and had his hand in a lot of great projects over the years, including Song of the South and Melody Time!. When he talked about animation, he was like a big kid. very warm and enthusiastic about handing off knowledge. Gonna miss you, Amigo!

  • When I was a little boy in Buenos Aires I used to love seen his name in the UPA cartoons. Larriva,Actually it should be La Riva, “the river bank”, sounded really cool.

  • Keith Paynter

    So conflicted – the last link to the Warner cartoon dynasty, who at the same time gave us sub-par material on a relatively consistant basis. I think it’s best to remember him for his high points (as have been mentioned previously) over his low points.

    Thanks Rudy, for minding the store. Godspeed.

    • Rick Larriva

      Sub-par material do only to budget demands, not the lack of talent

  • Pez

    HEY COME ON NOW!!! WE gotta start talking about these guys before they die!!! Lets try to get some interviews with these guys before they pass on rather than making fun of the latest garbage one of the current day animation studios cranked out. It is always such a joy read or watch Martha’s posts on here. I mean this is CARTOON BREW! It’s time for a Golden Age Animation Artist Survey. We gotta find the rest of the ones that are still with us, do a piece on them and let these greats know how much we love the cartoons and art they gave us.

    Thank you Rudy for all that you gave to the would of animation,

    Prayers and God’s Blessing to the family

  • Have to agree with Pez. We should make a list of animators from the golden age that are still alive.

  • That is very sad. I grew up watching his cartoons. My condolences to his family and friends.

  • I have the honor of conducting Rudy Larriva’s estate sale in Fallbrook CA on July 10,11, 2010. Several paintings and many drawings will be available. Pictures will be posted Thursday evening on my website Also being offered is an autographed book by Gus Arriola to Mr. Larriva and his wife.

  • Hi, just thought I’d point out that I have the sketches referred to by Deborah C. listed on eBay right now, for anyone interested.


  • Greg Duffell

    I met Mr. Larriva, quite unexpectedly, in 1975 when he was directing at Filmation Studios. A British animator friend of mine Jeff Short and I were given a tour of the studio by Filmation employee Alberto DeMello. Of course I was thrilled to meet Mr. Larriva , knowing him mainly for his early animation with Chuck Jones and his 1940’s Disney work.

    What I knew, from having talked with Ken Harris, was that Larriva had been an extremely talented animator and that Chuck Jones considered Rudy to have been his top animator in the late ’30’s and early ’40’s. Chuck counted on Rudy a lot in the Sniffles/”Elmer’s Pet Rabbit” days to deliver top quality Disney style animation, even though Larriva would have been very young at the time. Of course Chuck wasn’t that much older and directing.

    All the while, Larriva wanted desperately to work at Disney’s studio and it was apparently Frank Thomas who made this possible and Rudy left Chuck’s unit and Warner Brothers sometime in the mid-1940’s. I have heard that this was a terrible blow to Chuck and he supposedly refused to speak to Rudy ever again.

    If this is accurate, it puts a rather interesting spin on the decision in the mid-60’s by Depatie-Freleng to subcontract to Larriva at Format Productions the bulk of the Road Runner cartoons as part of a Warner contract.

  • Paulie J. Waddle

    Is it wrong to enjoy the Larriva Roadrunners? IMO, I find most later Jonesian efforts boring (except Lickety-Splat)…Is it that wrong?

    Then again, Jones did have better music…