Ted Petok (1917-2010)

Cartoonist, illustrator and Oscar winning animator Ted Petok has passed away at age 93. His Oscar winning short was The Crunch Bird (1971), written and voiced by Len Maxwell. A native of Detroit, Petok’s animation also appeared on Sesame Street and The Electric Company. A complete obitutary appears in today’s Detroit Free Press. His Academy award winning film appears below:


  • http://www.classicparamountcartoons.blogspot.com ParamountCartoons

    noooooooooo!

    he was like insipiration next to “logorama” for me that could have a slight chance of winning an oscar….someday!

    If he did student films in high school, will they do a tribute to him during the Michigan Student Film And Video Festival I’m going to attend in two days?

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    Gold.

    And same as what Paramount Cartoons said.

  • startstop

    What’s with all the animation deaths this month?

  • Chris Sobieniak

    April’s sure shaping up to be that.

    This recording used for the YouTube clip came from a bloopers tape that was released by Goodtimes Home Video back in the 80′s, that was where I first saw this short from, though recently I came across a 16mm copy I got off eBay I enjoyed getting as well.

  • http://www.classicparamountcartoons.blogspot.com ParamountCartoons

    startstop: I did a post on another forum I’m lurking on.

  • Rebecca Forth

    I love this cartoon and Mr. Petok’s style! I’m sad that I didn’t know his name until now. I’ve loved his work on Sesame Street and the Electric Company! My mom had videotapes of all of the old episodes, since the Electric Company wasn’t airing anymore when I was a kid. It’s sad to lose such a fantastic artist, but he definitely left a legacy! Thanks for the post!

  • Charles

    Goodness! The sudden deaths in the animation industry as of late is really saddening. Who’s killing the great legends of animation? Disney? lol j/k

    Seriously, my condolences to Petok’s family in their bereavement! His contributions to Sesame Street and Electric Company made watching these shows enjoyable as a child. His legacy endures on DVD, for future generations to experience. Blessings.

  • Jay Sabicer

    I remember seeing this as a segment of Hanna-Barbera’s Jokebook, a short-lived series in 1982, although I think they either had a different voicetrack (with laugh track) or just dubbed over the punchline to placate the censors. The joke was funny, and the animation excellent for the time it was made.

  • http://cartoonlandanimation.com Kevin C.

    I was a teenage animator in the Detroit suburbs when he won, and I’ll never forget his acceptance statement—wait for it—-”Crunch Bird my OSCAR’!

  • Tom Heres

    Cute, and RIP Ted.

  • Alfons Moline

    Another death in the animation industry which I´m not sure if it has been already commented in Cartoon Brew is that of Canadian animator Jim Hiltz, who passed away last March in Montreal at age 82. He was a director on Jay Ward´s Bullwinkle and George of the Jungle shows and on the Beatles TV episodes that were animated in Holland (under the alias of Snav Sniekus), and worked as well on Yellow Submarine, Shinbone Alley, Ernest Pintoff´s Academy Award-nominated short The Violinist, countless TV specials and series for studios in his native Canada (Atkinson Film Arts, Cinar, Nelvana. etc.), etc.

  • Steve Gattuso

    93′s a good age to make. Thanks for the laughs, Ted.

    (Crunch Bird, AMID!)

  • http://crisafullidoodles.blogspot.com/ Marc Crisafulli

    I recognize his work from taking in countless hours of ‘Sesame Street’.

    I love the voice direction on this! Sounds like everyone involved is doing deliberately kooky impressions of many comedy voice staples from bygone eras. If that’s really him, that has to be the most subdued Frank Nelson performance I’ve ever heard.

    Oddly enough, I can recall seeing animation of this JOKE if not this particular cartoon. For a little while in the early 1980s, NBC ran a half hour of nothing but animated shorts… sort of like ‘Liquid Television Lite’ before there ever was a ‘Liquid Television’. The punchline aired same as above, but the Crunch Bird in the one I’m thinking of was purple or pink, I think?

  • Alfons Moline

    Oops. A minor correction to my previous comment: Jim Hiltz had passed away in March… 2009.

  • *ftb*

    I was so saddened to hear of Ted’s death. About 25 years ago he sent me an original, inscribed and framed Crunch Bird, which I have on my office wall. He was a very, very sweet guy. He will be buried in the same cemetery as my parents and I’ll bet you any money that when the gates are closed each night, there will be copious and roaring laughter underneath. Condolences to his family.

  • Tom Pope

    Cannot watch this too many times! Awesome.

  • Alison

    It is gratifying to read all of these comments about my grandfather, Ted’s, work. He was a really wonderful man who lived a long and fulfilling life. Art and family were his two passions, and he left a good legacy in animation. Thank you to all for your condolences.

  • http://smomotion.com :: smo ::

    any passing in the animation community is sad, but we’re left with this great body of work and thanks to the brewmasters for bringing it to our attention!

    and on the crunchbird, i just have to say: now THAT’S a punchline!

  • Ray Kosarin

    Let me join the others who have posted comments about what a kind, sweet man Petok was.

    Detroit was never exactly a big animation town, but while I was growing up, Petok’s name was well-known there. He invited me to visit his studio when I was about 10 and he was remarkably generous with his time, showing me everything that went into making an animated commercial (and even sending me home with a complete batch of cels and exposure sheets from a short spot, which I studied religiously!).

    Petok was warm, unassuming, unpretentious, and simply loved what he did. And that joy was infectious.

  • http://www.woodyfilmtv.com Woody Robertson

    I was saddened to learn of Ted’s leaving us at such an early age. I had been thinking of him for several months, and never got around to calling him. He was a dear friend as well as a great contributor to our production company.. September Moon Productions.

    We used his talents on many of our productions thru the 20 years we were in business. We also produced the Ted Petock Film Festival in downtown Detroit in the late 80′s. He was also a great amateur Magician and was a member of the local Magicians group.
    I really feel terrible, that I never had the chance to say goodbye, but he knew how much we loved him, especially my business partner Roz Cooperman and all of our employes.

    I am sure he is entertaining the cartoon lovers in heaven…. but they probably will censor the Crunch Bird comments.

    May your pens and ink rest well, my friend.

  • http://www.dis Peter Adamakos

    I just found out about Ted’s passing. After he won the Academy Award, and began his thank-you speech with “Crunch Bird My Oscar!” we at our studio sent him a giant cartoon of the bird on a perch under those famous words with a chunk taken out of the Oscar, clenched in his talons. Ted enjoyed it, gave us a friendly phone call and eventually came to visit us in Montreal. Just by chance there was a meeting of animation people at the National Film Board to which I had been invited so I brought him there. My favorite moment was getting him together with the two nominees whose films had “lost” to his win at the Academy Awards. I delighted in the momentary awkwardness, as Ted’s film was my favorite that year, even better than mine for Columbia Pictures which had been entered at the Oscars but only made it to the final ten, the step before nominations. He turned out to be everything you’d expect from a guy who would animate a Crunch Bird and a giant chocolate cake- fun and funny, warm and friendly, and a wonderful talent.

    • Jeremy DK Barkin

      Ted was/is my great uncle. That statuette of the bird on the perch is actually in a glass case in my dorm at school now to remind me of him. Thank you so much for this gift that honors one of the greatest men I have ever known. Most of my favorite childhood memories involve him cracking jokes and drawing hilarious pictures for me. Thank you for your kind words and I can assure you, now that I know where it is from, the statuette of the crunch bird will be taken care of even more.