Frank Terry, Former Director of CalArts Character Animation Program, RIP

Frank Terry, the beloved former director of the character animation program at CalArts, passed away on February 11 at the age of 75. The cause of death was pulmonary fibrosis.

After graduating from Chouinard Art Institute in 1964, Terry worked at Cine Centrum in the Netherlands on The Beatles TV series. He spent the bulk of his animation career working in advertising, beginning at Spungbuggy Works in the 1960s, where he eventually became a partner in addition to directing and designing spots. In the 1980s, he worked at FilmFair and Duck Soup Produckions, and in 1988 launched commercial studio terryx2 with his wife and producer Nelleke Terry.

Terry designed and directed this promo for the Grateful Dead album From the Mars Hotel at Spungbuggy Works in 1974:

Terry joined the CalArts faculty in the School of Film/Video in 1995, and served as the director of the character animation program from 1996 through 2007. “Frank brought a new level of ideas to the program—from curriculum to the jurying process for the annual producers’ showcase, to his encouragement for student participation in film festivals,” said assistant dean Leo Hobaica Jr.. “He elevated the discourse in the classroom, always striking a balance between industry requests and art for art’s sake. The films became technically better and more interesting than they’d been before, and suddenly there were kids who believed that they could become auteurs.”

This is Terry’s sequence from Marv Newland’s 1984 short Anijam:


  • Philip Vose

    he was a blessing to me and so many others. thank you, Frank! class of 2008

  • Bruce

    I was fortunate to be able to work with Frank, Corny Cole and Mike Mitchell from 1996-2002. He was an advocate for the students, their art and films. His friendship, conversations and smile will be missed greatly.

  • David Zweig

    Frank was a mentor and a friend. Every inspiring moment my classmates, professors and I experienced were directly or indirectly a result of his tireless efforts on behalf of all of us in the Character Animation department. I am the creative professional today in large part because of the hours spent with Frank. He was so caring, thoughtful and inspiring, and will be forever remembered in my heart. Your spirit lives on and on and on, Frank.

  • David Zweig

    For what it’s worth, I still remain convinced that the design of Carl from “Up” was loosely inspired by Frank: http://www.autostraddle.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/up-carl-frederickson.jpg