Filmmaker and former animator Dan Bessie sent in this reminiscence of his friend Bernard Gruver, after seeing Gruver’s name referenced here on the Brew:
Bernie was a good friend of mine from the time we worked together at Ray Patin Productions in Hollywood, until about five years later (this would be around the time he left Playhouse, to work for Melendez on the Peanuts shows). I was an assistant animator at Patin at the time, having begun as an apprentice at MGM, and leaving there when the studio closed its cartoon department in 1956 or 57. (Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera found all of us inbetweeners jobs at other studios.)Soft spoken, gentle, kind and helpful, Bernie was also a very funny guy and a great draftsman. Though we lost contact in later years, I was shocked to learn that he died at only 62 (never did learn the details, if you know, please tell me). He and his wife and children lived in the San Fernando Valley, where my family also lived, and we spent many enjoyable times together. Never spent too much time in the mainstream Hollywood cartoon industry myself after about 1970, as I went on to start my own company, producing mainly educational films, in both live and animation.
Dan Bessie began his career at MGM Animation Deptatment (at $36.45 a week), then went on to animate episodes of Saturday morning TV shows like The Marvel Superheroes, Linus the Lionhearted and Mr. Magoo. Bessie also co-wrote, directed and animated the award-winning Hey Culligan Man! soft water commercials for 15 years. Later, he parlayed that experience into writing and directing more than 120 of his own films, both live and animated; including educational films, features, and TV specials that have appeared on CBS, HBO, SHOWTIME, and the Disney Channel. His new book, REELING THROUGH HOLLYWOOD:How I Spent 40 Fabulous Years in Film and Never Made a Nickel will be published in the fall.