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Oscar-winning Tom and Jerry director Gene Deitch dies aged 95

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The director of the famous Tom and Jerry animated series Gene Deitch has passed away aged 95.  

The Oscar-winning illustrator he was found dead at his apartment in Prague, on the night of 16th April. 

Petr Himmel, his Czech publisher, told The Associated Press that he died ‘unexpectedly’. But no further details have been given. The film director and producer was last seen in his apartment in the Litter Quarter neighborhood. 

Eugene Merrill Deitch, his complete name, has directed 13 episodes of the famous children’s cartoon series Tom and Jerry. He also directed some from the series Popeye The Sailor.

In 2004, he received the Winsor McCay Award for his lifelong contribution to animation. 

Gene was born in 1924 in Chicago. He worked as a draftsman for North American Aviation before being drafted for the military and entering pilot training. There he met his first wife, Marie and they married in 1943. And they have three sons – Kim, Simon, and Seth. 

However, he was discharged for medical reasons, and he then based himself in Prague from 1959 where his career took off. And there he met Zdenka Najmanová, the production manager at the studio Bratři v triku, where he worked. They married in 1964.

He had created the Tom Terrific series. And he co-produced the Sidney’s Family Tree, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1958. 

He was also a popular filmmaker who won the movie Munro the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1960. He was also nominated for the same award twice in 1964 for Here’s Nudnik and How to Avoid Friendship.

Gene is survived by his wife and his three sons from his first marriage, all of whom are cartoonists.  

His fans have taken to social media to pay tribute to the creative genius and express how much his work meant to them. Photos and videos portraying his colorful work have been shared across various social media platforms.

One fan even recreated the jingles for some of his best-known series as a tribute. And he has been called a legend from his era, by many people.

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