Australian animator Ron Campbell, who worked on the Beatles’ cartoon series and the Yellow Submarine movie, has died at the age of 81.

His business partner Scott Segelbaum posted the news to Campbell’s Facebook page last weekend.

“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have received news that famed animator/producer/director/storyboard artist Ron Campbell has passed away at age 81,” Segelbaum wrote.

“Ron was a dear friend and my business partner for over a decade. His death leaves a huge void.”

He continued by saying Campbell animated childhoods.

“Making cartoon films was something Ron had dreamed of since he was six years old when he learned that the short films of Tom & Jerry that he saw in the theatres were only drawings. He was amazed that he could make drawings that could come to life….and that was it. He said he never woke up a day in his life and thought…damn I have to go to work.”

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Campbell trained at the Swinburne Art Institute in Melbourne and, in 1965, he animated and directed The Beatles, which ran for 39 episodes over two years.

The band’s music was featured in each show, but the characters were voiced by actors.

“I always kind of liked [the cartoons],” George Harrison once said.

“They were so bad or silly that they were good, if you know what I mean. And I think the passage of time might make them more fun now.”

Later he worked on the full-length Yellow Submarine, creating about 12 minutes’ worth of the film, including the Sea of Time sequence.

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Campbell moved the US and went on to work at iconic studios such as Jay Ward Productions (George of the Jungle), Hanna-Barbera (Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Smurfs) and Disney (Darkwing Duck and The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh).

He retired in 2008 but often toured exhibits of his work.

It was on these trips that Campbell would meet the audience that grew up on his cartoons, Segelbaum recalled.

“He realised something that never occurred to him at the time… the incredible impact that cartoons had on the audience. Saturday morning cartoons were some of their happiest childhood memories.”

 

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