Gene Deitch

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Full Name:

Gene Deitch

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Date of birth:


Date of death:



Chicago, IL


Gene Deitch was a frequent contributor to The Record Changer, a jazz magazine, from 1945 to 1951. He started out as an apprentice in UPA studios, working as an Assistant Production Designer on the first Mister Magoo cartoons for Columbia Pictures. Within five years, he rose to become Creative Director of UPA’s New York Studio. He got many gold medals for his films including some famous commercials. His TV commercials were the first ever shown at the New York Museum of Modern Art. They were shown for an entire month in 1954. IN 1955, Deitch joined Terrytoons, where he created characters like “John Doormat”, “Clint Clobber”, “Gaston Le Crayon”, “Sydney” and “Foofle”. In 1956 CBS bought the Terrytoons animation studio and named Deitch as its Creative Director.

Under his supervision and direction, the studio produced 18 Cinemascope cartoons per year for 20th-Century Fox, and won its very first Oscar nomination. He created and directed the Tom Terrific series for the CBS nationwide Captain Kangaroo show. Tom Terrific, with Mighty Manfred the Wander Dog, was the very first serial for network television. In early 1958, his theatrical cartoon Sidney’s Family Tree was nominated for an Academy Award. In August 1958, he was fired from Terrytoons and set up his own studio in New York called Gene Deitch Associates, Inc.

He moved to Prague in 1959 and married his wife, Zdenka, in 1960. In Prague, he worked with William L. Snyder, and directed approximately a dozen Tom and Jerry cartoons for MGM. He also produced “Krazy Kat” and “Popeye” for King Features and also an Oscar-winning “Munro” in 1960. He later created “Nudnik” which was based off of “Foofle”, the character he created back at Terrytoons. Since 1968 Deitch has been the leading animation director for the Connecticut organization Weston Woods/ Scholastic, adapting children’s picture books. He was awarded the “Annie” Award by ASIFA Hollywood in 2003 for a lifetime contribution to the art of animation. He lived in Prague with his wife until his death in 2020.

Family and early life

Gene Deitch was born Eugene Merril Deitch in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Career outline

Terrytoons 1955-1958 Gene Deitch Associates, Inc. MGM Weston Woods/Scholastic

Personal style

Gene Deitch’s style is very abstract/modern.

Honors and awards

Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 2003


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