Hale moved to San Franciso in 1964 to work with NFB co-worker Cameron Guess. He directed Guess’s Oscar-nominated short The Shepherd but never received credit for his efforts. In 1968 Hale and his wife Margaret became partners with John Magnuson and Walt Kramer at Imagination, Inc animation studio in San Francisco. In addition to television commercials, the bulk of work at the studio was supplying animated shorts to the Children’s Television Workshop, the producers of Sesame Street.
For Sesame Street, Hale’s longest and most fruitful work relationship, he created several series of shorts, including the “Pinball Number Count” series, some of which are still seen on the program.
Hale also developed a number of beloved recurring characters for Sesame Street, including the Ringmaster, Typewriter and Detective Man.
Through Magnuson, who was a close friend of Lenny Bruce, Hale came to design and direct the animation of Thank You Mask Man, using audio from a Bruce routine based on the Lone Ranger and Tonto, in 1968. The short had a controversial and unprofitable run; it was scheduled to premiere at the opening night of the San Francisco International Film Festival but was mysteriously taken off the proram. Magnuson believed that the film’s submission for Academy Awards consideration was sabotaged by an Academy member, with Hale suggesting “the projectionist took it upon himself to act as a censor.” The short found an audience and attained cult status nonetheless, with regular pre-feature screenings over many years at Landmark Theatres.
With Geraldine Clarke and Prescott Wright, Jeff and Margaret Hale founded ASIFA-San Francisco in 1973.
Hale later helped set up the San Francisco studio Mill Valley Animation. He also animated the “B-17” segment of the feature Heavy Metal (1981), which was directed by NFB colleague Gerald Potterton. Later he worked as an animation director on Muppet Babies and Transformers, as well as The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, G.I. Joe and My Little Pony. Hale continued to work, with considerable artistic freedom, on Sesame Street until 1999.
Hale retired to Talent, Oregon where he continued to paint and draw. He is survived by his daughter Margot and son Nick.
Hale is featured in this 1982 PBS documentary called The Animators: