This weekend, as the Oscars honor those we lost in the film industry, we pay our final respects to those we've lost from Saturday mornings. We've paid tribute to some when their deaths were announced throughout the year, but this is our chance to remember those we missed because the reports came in late or weren't widely publicized. Some you may know. Others are more obscure. But, they all played a part in shaping our Saturdays.
Frank Buxton (January 2) – Actor, director, writer and producer. Provided voices for two episodes of Garfield and Friends and 13 episodes of All-New Dennis the Menace.
Carole Hart (January 5) – Producer and writer. Wrote the fifth-ever episode of Sesame Street back in 1969.
Mort Walker (January 27) – Cartoonist. Created the comic strips Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois. Both were featured in the “Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter” episode of ABC Saturday Superstar Movie.
John Mahoney (February 4) – Actor. Guest-starred in an episode of Teacher’s Pet as Tim Tim Tim and the narrator.
Reg E. Cathey (February 9) – Actor. Guest-starred in two episodes of Tangled: The Series as Captain Quaid.
Marty Allen (February 12) – Actor and comedian. Guest-starred on an episode of The Monster Squad as Lorenzo Musica.
George Kaufman (February 20) – Real estate magnate. Led the development of Kaufman Astoria Studios where Sesame Street had filmed since the ‘90s.
Bud Luckey (February 24) – Animator and actor. He worked on storyboards for Back to the Future and provided animation for Sesame Street between 1976-88, as well as several spin-off videos and shorts. He also voiced Donnie Budd, the Candy Man, and sung several songs on Sesame Street from 1972-2000.
Benjamin Melniker (February 26) – Producer. Worked on a number of DC Comics-based television and film projects and productions for DiC Entertainment, including Swamp Thing (1991), Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?, Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman and The Batman vs. Dracula.
David Ogden Stiers (March 3) – Actor. Best known as Major Charles Winchester from M*A*S*H, Stiers was also a voice actor with strong ties to Disney. He had the starring role of Dr. Jumba Jookiba in the Lilo & Stitch franchise, providing the voice in the movies, games, and the television series. He guest-starred as VLAD in an episode of 101 Dalmatians: The Series; Byron Beaver in an episode of The Angry Beavers; had the recurring role of Mr. Jolly, as well as provided narration and was a congressman in episodes of Teacher’s Pet; took over the role of Penguin for the direct-to-video movie Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman; and was Dr. Odium in an episode of Static Shock.
Soon-Tek Oh (April 4) – Actor. Provided a voice in an episode of Life With Louie.
Ron White (April 4) – Actor. Played the lead role of Ace Hart in the Jim Henson Productions puppet/animated series Dog City.
Chuck McCann (April 8) – Actor, writer, producer and director. McCann co-created, produced, and starred as Barney in Far Out Space Nuts for Sid and Marty Kroft, as well as wrote several episodes of their show Wonderbug.
McCann starred as Boogie and Blubber in C.B. Bears; Billy Joe in The New Shmoo; Mummy Man in Drak Pack; Blinky and Pinky in Pac-Man; Orlock in Galtar and the Golden Lance; Duckworth, Burger Beagle, Bouncer Beagle, and several minor roles in DuckTales; Mayor Grody in Toxic Crusaders; Dumptruck, Gibber and a rhino goon in TaleSpin; and Beefsteak in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1991). He also guest-starred as Number One, The Owl, and Tom McCool in Cool McCool; Badladdin in an episode of The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show; Artemis and some mutants in an episode of Thundarr the Barbarian; Moving Man Grizz, Billy Beagle, Roary, Cousin Wilton, and several minor roles in The Get Along Gang; Biff Barker in Pound Puppies (1986); Cashmore and additional voices in an episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo; Sir Gaya, a knight, a chef and a tadpole in episodes of Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears; Heff Heffalump and a Tigger lookalike in The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh; Uncle Ed and a dog in two episodes of Garfield and Friends; Codger Eggbert in an episode of Animaniacs; Santa Claus in an episode of ABC Weekend Specials; a worm and talents of trial in two episodes of The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat; and Filth #2 in an episode of The Tick (1994).
He provided additional voices in Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo (1979), Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, Space Stars, Richie Rich (1982), Snorks, The Smurfs, Where’s Waldo?, Tom & Jerry Kids Show, and All-New Dennis the Menace.
R. Lee Ermey (April 15) – Drill instructor-turned-character actor, often making use of his time in the army playing grizzled and tough characters. On Saturday mornings, he starred as General Thorton in Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot; played Sergeant Goonther in an episode of The Angry Beavers; reprised his role of Sarge for Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins; Colonel O’Malley in Recess: School’s Out; Colonel Thrift in an episode of Fillmore!; and the warden in an episode of Spongebob SquarePants.
Barbara Bush (April 17) – Former First Lady of the United States. She had appeared on Sesame Street during the 21st season and in the TV documentary Sing! Sesame Street Remembers Joe Raposo and His Music. She also provided an introduction with George H.W. Bush for the home video release of the anti-drug special Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue.
Bob Dorough (April 23) – Composer and writer. He served as the music director for Schoolhouse Rock!, for which he also wrote and directed episodes, composed and performed some of the music, and even provided voices for various characters.
Robert Mandan (April 29) – Actor. Provided a voice for various episodes of Foofur.
Jose Lavat (May 15) – Actor. Provided Spanish dubs for various projects, including voicing Count Dooku and Darth Tyrannus in the Star Wars prequels and The Clone Wars and serving as the narrator for Dragon Ball Z.
Dean Stefan (May 15) – Writer. Also known as Sandy Scesny, he wrote for The Smurfs, Darkwing Duck, Goof Troop, X-Men: The Animated Series, Skeleton Warriors, The Savage Dragon, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask: The Animated Series, Men in Black: The Series, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, Jackie Chan Adventures, The Penguins of Madagascar, Ben 10: Omniverse, and Transformers: Rescue Bots. He also served as a producer on Men in Black and the story editor for Goof Troop.
Joseph Campanella (May 16) – Actor. Played Dr. Matthew Thorne, aka The Crime Doctor, in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, starred as The Master in Road Rovers, and had the recurring role of Dr. Curt Connors, aka The Lizard, in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
Jerry Maren (May 24) – Actor. Portrayed the bodies for the characters of Boris and Rah-Rah in Lidsville.
Joe Jackson (June 27) – Talent manager. The patriarch of the Jackson family, he formed the Jackson 5 with his sons and managed their early career. The group would go on to get their own animated series from Rankin/Bass Productions.
Denis Akiyama (June 28) – Actor. He voiced Dockwell in two episodes of Wild C.A.T.S.: Covert Action Teams, Iceman and Silver Samurai in X-Men: The Animated Series, Watcher Prime in Silver Surfer: The Animated Series, Mr. Referee in the English version of Medabots, Amycus and Cyclops in Mythic Warriors: Guardians of the Legend, and Dr. Chris Johnson in an episode of Avengers: United They Stand.
Harlan Ellison (June 28) – Notable science-fiction author and sometimes actor. He had unspecified voice roles in Mother Goose and Grimm and The Pirates of Dark Water, and contributed a story to Silver Surfer: The Animated Series.
Steve Ditko (June 29) – Artist and writer. One of the co-architects of the original Marvel Comics universe. He co-created Spider-Man and Dr. Strange as well Glen Talbot, and The Creeper and Shade the Changing Man for rival DC Comics. They and many of their supporting characters and villains have been adapted into various other media since their creation. In the later years of his mainstream career, he also worked on issues of Marvel’s Mighty Moprhin Power Rangers comic.
Elmarie Wendel (July 21) – Actor. Guest-starred as Doris Rabbit in an episode of The Angry Beavers.
Terry Windell (July 23) – Artist. He worked on layouts for the Spider-Woman cartoon and was a storyboard artist for The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour and The Smurfs.
Josip Nikolai Peruzovic (July 29) – Professional wrestler best known by the stage name of Nikolai Volkoff. Although not actually starring in the show, his name and likeness was used as one of the heels in Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling. He did make an appearance during the live segments of the show.
Bob Curtis (July 30) – Producer and director. He worked on The Smurfs, Snorks, Jim Henson’s Little Muppet Monsters, Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, Garfield and Friends, Bobby’s World and The Angry Beavers.
David Landsberg (August 5) – Actor, writer and producer. Starred as Woody in Yogi’s Space Race and provided additional voices for various segments of Saturday Supercade.
Charlotte Rae (August 5) – Actor. Played Molly the Mail Lady in several episodes of Sesame Street and starred as Nanny in 101 Dalmatians: The Series.
Unshô Ishizuka (August 13) – Actor. Provided the Japanese dubs for H.A.R.D.A.C. in Batman: The Animated Series, Captain Ganfu in Lilo & Stitch: The Series, and Creepox in Power Rangers Megaforce. He also provided the voices of the narrator, Professor Oak, and a variety of Pokemon monsters in Pokemon.
Russ Heath (August 23) – Artist. Provided layouts for Godzilla, “The Puppy’s Amazing Rescue” episode of ABC Weekend Specials, The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour, The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam! and Blackstar. Served as the character designer for RoboCop (1988), The Karate Kid: The Animated Series and Pryde of the X-Men. He was also the art director for Karate Kid.
Robin Leach (August 24) – Actor and producer. Known mostly for his stint hosting Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous where he hob-knobbed with the wealthy and showed off their lives of excess, he had also done a few voice acting roles. One of them was portraying himself for a segment of an episode of Garfield and Friends.
Gary Friedrich (August 30) – Comicbook writer. Co-creator of the character Ghost Rider. While Ghost Rider has been featured in several Marvel Comics-based programs and films, he only made a brief appearance in an episode of X-Men: The Animated Series in one of Gambit’s memories.
Marie Severin (August 30) – Comicbook artist and colorist. She co-created the original Spider-Woman, who would go on to have her own Saturday morning animated series, and worked on the Muppet Babies comics based on their own show for Marvel Comics.
Carole Shelley (August 31) – Actor. Voiced the role of Lachesis throughout Disney’s Hercules franchise, including three episodes of the animated series.
Burt Reynolds (September 6) – Actor, director, producer, musician and writer. Best known as a rugged sex symbol on the silver screen, Reynolds made his start and the occasional return to television. One time was voicing Royal Serpenti on Duck Dodgers.
John Cunliffe (September 20) – Writer. Created the character of Postman Pat.
Norm Breyfogle (September 24) – Artist. Best known for his six-year stint on Batman comics, he helped to create the Arnold Wesker version of the Ventriloquist, who appeared in Batman: The Animated Series, and Anarky, who was Batman’s arch-rival in Beware the Batman. He also co-created Malibu Comics’ flagship character Prime, who was one of the starring characters in the short-lived Ultraforce animated series. He also provided art for the comics Batman Beyond (2012) and Batman Beyond Unlimited.
Will Vinton (October 4) – Animator and filmmaker. A Claymation pioneer responsible for a number of well-known commercial campaigns and characters, including the Motown-singing California Raisins for the California Raisin Advisory Board. At the height of their popularity, they received their own short-lived animated series.
Don Sandburg (October 6) – Actor, writer and producer. Best known for his stint as Sandy the Tramp in the long-running Bozo’s Circus, he also served as an associate producer for The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.
Adam Burke (October 7) – Animator who worked primarily with Disney and Pixar. Although he didn’t have anything to do with Saturday mornings directly, he did do clean-up work on the Gargoyles video game from 1995.
Mario Segale (October 27) – Businessman and real estate developer. The landlord of a struggling Nintendo of America’s original location in Washington, the company named their mascot, Mario, after him when he forgave their being behind on the rent before the company-saving launch of Donkey Kong.
Ken Swofford (November 1) – Actor. Appeared as the coach in Recess: School’s Out and as Officer White in an episode of Teacher’s Pet.
Stan Lee (November 12) – Writer, editor, publisher, and the self-proclaimed “King of Cameos”. Stan was one of the co-architects for what would become known as the Marvel Universe, involved in the creation of Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, the Avengers, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Mighty Thor, Daredevil and others, as well as the foundations for their individual worlds and supporting characters. His bombastic personality and engaging prose led to his becoming the face of Marvel comics, and one of its most well-known creators.
As Marvel expanded its characters into other media, Stan had various levels of involvement with their productions; particularly during the brief existence of Marvel Productions. Traditionally, Stan has received an “executive producer” credit on any Marvel-based project, including the Marvel-produced Biker Mice From Mars (1993). However, he was actively involved as the story and art consultant for Spider-Man (1967) and Fantastic Four (1967), wrote several scripts for The New Fantastic Four, was the executive story editor for RoboCop: The Animated Series and the supervising producer for Pryde of the X-Men. He also developed Spider-Woman and oversaw the development of X-Men: The Animated Series’ first season and Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
Some of his legendary cameos came in the form of the narrator for Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, The Incredible Hulk (1982), and Pryde of the X-Men. He appeared on screen as himself in a fantasy sequence of Muppet Babies, meeting Spider-Man in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, and pulled double-duty as a cameraman in Marvel’s Spider-Man. He also reprised his role as Fred’s Dad from the Big Hero 6 film in a recurring role in Big Hero 6: The Series.
Stephen Hillenburg (November 26) – Cartoonist, animator, writer, producer and marine biology teacher. He was best known for creating the long-running SpongeBob Squarepants franchise, which made sufficient use of his teaching background. Beyond that, he also worked on fellow Nickelodeon shows Rugrats and Rocko’s Modern Life as a writer and storyboard artist.
George H.W. Bush (November 30) – 41st President of the United States. As part of America’s anti-drug campaign, Bush appeared along with his wife, Barbara, in the opening of the American version of Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue.
Ken Berry (December 1) – Actor, dancer and singer. He appeared in the “Valentine’s Second Chance” episode of ABC Weekend Specials as Jimmy Valentine, and voiced Seymour Grey in an episode of The New Batman Adventures. He was also married for a time to Jackie Joseph, who voiced Melody in both Josie and the Pussycats animated series.
Rodney Kageyama (December 9) – Actor. Known mostly as an on-screen actor, he did provide additional voices for a couple animated productions, including Lazer Tag Academy.
Penny Marhsall (December 17) – Actor and director. Best known for her role of Laverne DeFazio from Laverne & Shirley, which she reprised in the animated spin-off Laverne & Shirley in the Army.
Don Lusk (December 30) – Animator and director whose career spanned from early Disney through 1990s Hanna-Barbera. He provided animation for The Secret Squirrel Show, The Atom Ant Show, Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears and Droopy: Master Detective. His work was also seen in a short included in Mickey’s House of Villains direct-to-video movie. He served as an assistant director or director on Shirt Tales, Monchichis, The Dukes, Pac-Man, The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show, The Biskitts, Pink Panther and Sons, Snorks, The Smurfs, Galtar and the Golden Lance, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, The Flintstone Kids, Foofur, Wildfire, Popeye and Son, Yogi’s Treasure Hunt, Pound Puppies (1986), The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley, Tom & Jerry Kids Show, Rick Moranis in Gravedale High, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Yo Yogi!, The Addams Family (1992), and The Pirates of Dark Water.
See anyone we missed? Let us know in the comments, via E-Mail, or on twitter @SatMForever.
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