Charlie Downs, from the June 1960 Peg-Board, by Ric Gonzalez
Animator Charles Downs, Local 839's last known living charter member, first Sergeant-At-Arms and a past president and vice-president, passed away the evening of July 21st of heart failure. He was eighty-one years old.
Charlie "Red" Downs (so nicknamed for his hair, not his politics) graduated from Chouinard Art School after wartime naval service, beginning his animation career at Disney in 1951. Part of Ward Kimball's unit, he worked on both Mars and Beyond and Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. On working for Kimball he related:
"When you worked for Ward, you did everything. Storyboards, designing, backgrounds. And you animated and painted cels.
"One day I showed him a pencil test. He looked at it and said 'Well, it isn't the way I'd do it, but it works. Cut it in' ..."
After nearly 10 years at Disney (where he assisted on Peter Pan, briefly animated on 101 Dalmatians), Downs moved to U.P.A., to animate on The Mr. Magoo Show and Bob Clampett's Snowball Productions, where he animated on The Beany and Cecil Show. Through a large part of the sixties, he animated on Jay Ward projects, principally Ward's Cap'n Crunch commercials. At the same time, he was a lead animator for DePatie-Freleng, also animating for Hanna-Barbera on television and feature projects.
Returning to Disney, Downs worked in Les Clark's educational unit, then worked as a directing animator on Ward Kimball's uncompleted featurette Bingo.
From the 1970s into the 1990s, Downs moved back and forth between television and theatrical productions. A directing animator on Richard Williams' Raggedy Ann and Andy, he also animated on The Black Cauldron, Coonskin, Heidi's Song and Jetsons, the Movie. Between feature assignments, he worked on t.v. episodes ranging from The Flintstones, to Scooby Doo, G.I. Joe and Tiny Toon Adventures.
Downs retired from the industry in 1992, thereafter receiving the Animation Guild's Golden Award. He leaves two daughters, Janette and Lynda, along with two grandchildren.