Tissa David 1921-2012

Very sad news today: New York animation legend Tissa David passed away last night at age 91. Michael Sporn broke the news on his blog and gives a recount of her career better than anyone one else could. Animator David Nethery wrote an appreciation of Tissa a few years ago on his website.

Tissa David was New York’s master animator for over five decades. Born in Transylvania, Tissa moved to Paris in 1950, where she worked for producers Jean Image and Paul Grimault. In 1955 she moved to New York where she worked as Grim Natwick’s assistant at UPA. Her work for John Hubley included commercials, shorts and features. Tissa may be best known to the public for developing and animating “Raggedy Ann” in Richard Williams’ 1977 feature Raggedy Ann and Andy. In 1978 she began a long stint animating for R. O. Blechman (including on Simple Gifts and A Soldier’s Tale).

Below, in tribute, is something we posted here a few years ago, a fuzzy video copy of one of Tissa’s pencil test from the “Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers” scene in Raggedy Ann and Andy.

For a lot more on Tissa David’s life, I urge you to visit Michael Sporn’s Splog and read John Canemaker’s piece in The Wall Street Journal.


  • http://www.portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    Raggedy is one of my favorite films….having JUST re-watched it a few weeks ago. Marvelous work. RIP Ms. T.!!

  • http://MrFun Floyd Norman

    We’ve lost a true animation legend.

  • http://totald.blogspot.com/ Darlie

    Brilliant, brilliant , genius.

    I hate what Raggedy Ann turned into but its parts were amazing. Hal Ambro’s Babette, Williams No Girls Toy, Charlie Downs Captain, Babbitts Camel, Emery Hawkins Greedy and most off all Tissa’s Raggedy Ann. The beauty of her drawings are undeniable. The artistry and craftsmanship forceful and clear. In a day when male animators would still openly say “women can’t animate” she was a fist in the face of misogyny. She could draw as easily as other people breath.

  • http://www.nickbruel.com Nick Bruel

    “Raggedy Ann and Andy” deserves so much more recognition than it’s received. (For one thing, releasing it on dvd should have happened a long time ago.) It’s a masterpiece by any standard, and much of its artistic success is clearly due to Ms. David’s talents. RIP

  • eeteed

    this is news that i never wanted to hear.

    tissa david is one of my favorite animators, and one of the greatest animators ever.

    her work has meant so much to me … this is a terrible loss.

  • bob kurtz

    tissa was one of the great one’s. she will be missed.

  • http://kicreativestudio.blogspot.com Ki Innis

    Tissa David was an amazing animator. Loved her work even before I knew who she truly was. Truly an inspiration.

  • Jacob Zaborowski

    The medium’s loss is the angels’ gain.

    “Animation is…animation.”

    Rest in peace, Ms. David.

  • http://www.tomsito.com Tom Sito

    She was a great lady, and an inspiration to us all. I’m still repeating lessons Tissa taught me to my students. I hope Tissa is being welcomed by Grim and John Hubley into Animation Valhalla.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    In John Canemaker’s book on “Raggedy Ann and Andy,” the chapter on Tissa David (whose work with the Hubleys also included the Doonesbury special) mentioned that one of Tissa’s trademarks was to have a character make direct eye contact with the onlooker, if only for a moment. Somehow, I always thought of that as a metaphor for animation: not to make characters simply move in a believable way but to have the characters make contact with the audience after a fashion and build a relationship on that. Nowadays it’s too easy to dismiss it as breaking the 4th wall, but when done well it enhances the art of personality animation.

    That’s a wrap.

    • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/ michael sporn

      I like to think Tissa’s trademark was more the use of touch within a scene. It was very important to her characters, and watching how it’s used in every one of her scenes becomes a delicate art form. There is always so much there within all of her characters who live and think and breathe. The longer her scenes, the better.

  • RODAN

    This was sad to read about…what a fantastic accomplished career! What a touching tribute here! Love reading everyones thoughts… We’re all in unison loving Tissa!

  • Yay_for_Kari

    A tragic loss to the animation community…I haven’t felt so low since we list Bill Littlejohn. Tissa was a superb artist – thank heavens she was willing to share her talents with us for so many years!

  • marysz

    I worked with Tissa on Raggedy Ann as well as on various commercial spots for the Ink Tank. She was a lovely, generous woman and extremely kind to me. Her animation was exquisite. She worked out of her apartment on 83rd street and I can’t walk on that part of the upper east side without thinking of her. I am so sad to learn about her death, but I am privileged to have worked with her and I’m glad so see that her wonderful talent acknowledged and appreciated here.