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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.

  • tom

    I’ve always had a soft spot for the quiet, uncomplicated world of Davey and Goliath.

  • Keith Paynter

    “Leave It To Beaver” from the Lutherans. It should be comforting to know that Sutcliff’s creations brought parables to youngsters better than any Sunday School ever could. Moral Orel may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I consider it a bit of a tribute, albeit a twisted one.

    “I don’t know, Davey…”

  • Bugsmer

    That’s too bad, Amid. Good luck with your book. Perhaps his family might be able to help you. It might make them feel better to hear from somebody who studies and understands some of his work. Perhaps some condolences would be in order.

  • I sympathize about just missing Mr. Hanrahan. In the late eighties, I was working on a (never-published) book on cartoon voice actors. I sent a package of individual letters to director Andrea Romano along with a request that she forward them on for me. A couple of days later the news of Daws Butler’s death came. Ms. Romano did forward everything for me, though, and I recieved back a charming letter from Mrs. Butler with clippings on her late husband. Sigh.

  • I am shocked by both these deaths, but, like most animation-related figures, their works will live on for numerous generations to come, like 101 Dalmations, Banana Splits, and Inspector Gadget.

  • I see you have information about my dad, Mel Leven, here. Although he was a great songwriter. His love was nature and fishing – fly fishing in particular. He wrote “The Little Ranger” Series for The Wonderful World of Disney in the 60’s. He wrote the narration and did some voices for that as well – he had a rich and full career. But, his love of nature, animals and fishing were reflected in many of his Disney TV works. He was a very intellegent man who loved to read and he was a great personality as well. Mel had a wonderul sense of humor and wrote many comedy songs throughout his career.

    He had two children – Bill and Laurie(me) and was Married to Jean. We grew up in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. Mel was an unforgettable character and is missed deeply.

  • Janice Belsky

    I have just read Laurie Fondiler’s post about her truly unforgetable dad, Mel Leven. Although I spent many hours listening to Mel’s stories and piano playing, I will most remember his love of nature, fly fishing, and his wonderful sense of humor. I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing, but ever grateful to have been his friend.