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Dick Sutcliffe, Jack Hanrahan, Mel Leven, RIP

Some animation-related deaths to report from the past few months:

Davey and Goliath

Dick Sutcliffe, the creator of Davey and Goliath, passed away on May 11 in Dallas at the age of 90. Here is the New York Times obituary.

Jack HanrahanJack Hanrahan died last April 28 at the age of 75. He wrote for many animated TV series in the 1960s, and then later in the 1980s, including Birdman, Banana Splits, Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles, Heathcliff, Snorks, Inspector Gadget, and The Care Bears. This obituary from the Cleveland Plain Dealer talks about the difficult final years of his life. I was quite saddened to hear about his passing. I’d wanted to interview Hanrahan for a book project I’m currently working on, because he had worked closely with Ward Kimball in the early-1970s. I discovered the name of the Cleveland nursing home he was staying in on Monday, April 28, literally the day he passed away. I had been planning to call him the following day, but that afternoon I read the notice of his passing on Mark Evanier’s blog. Some times things just aren’t meant to be.

Mel Leven (far right) in Babes in Toyland (click for bigger image)

Lastly, singer-songwriter Mel Leven, passed away last December 17, 2007 at the age of 93. He most famously wrote the classic Disney song “Cruella de Vil” for 101 Dalmatians. He wrote songs for numerous other Disney productions including Noah’s Ark, Donald and the Wheel, It’s Tough To Be A Bird and also appeared in the studio’s live-action feature Babes in Toyland. Also notable, Leven wrote and performed some entertaining songs for UPA shorts such as Miserable Pack of Wolves, Three-Horned Flink and all four of the “Ham & Hattie” shorts including the Oscar-nominated Trees and Jamaica Daddy. Leven was also the voice of numerous animated advertising characters including Crackle for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies and the Folgers coffee bean. To read more about him, see this biography or read an interview with Mel’s son, Bill Leven.