Thursday, February 10, 2011

John Sparey, 1927-2010

John Sparey (right) by John Sparey, comparing self-caricatures with Ed Solomon.

We've just learned of the death of JOHN SPAREY. John passed away on December 15 at the age of eighty-three.

From 1952 until 1994 he worked as an animator for Television Arts Productions, Disney, TV Spots, Bemiller, Detiege, Nicholson, Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros., Fred Calvert, Marvel, Bakshi and Rich Animation.

John told us some years ago about his early days in animation, when he worked on a little television series in the bay area called Crusader Rabbit. This was in 1950, when the tube was in its infancy, and nobody had heard of television animation. (At that time, the only cartoons on the air were "Farmer Alfalfa" and "Felix the Cat" silents.)

John spent much of the fifties working at Walt Disney Productions in the feature animation unit. (We link to his caricatures from the period below.) He spent the next thirty-five years working at almost every cartoon studio in the Los Angeles area, wrapping up his career at Film Roman, and then rode off into a long and happy retirement. (John was a fixture at TAG's holiday parties, where we would always catch up.) So we were startled one day to find out that he had been carted off to the hospital. As John related:

... I wasn't downed by a stroke. Catscans indicate that I have had some small strokes, what would be about a 2.0 on a Richter's scale of strokes - nothing I could feel... It was a walking difficulty that had been developing over a period of years, accelerating until one night I could not push myself up out of my recliner, but I could slide down onto the floor. And lie there. I had channel 4 to listen to as long as I was aware of my surroundings. Then I woke up in the hospital ...

Mr. Sparey stayed alert and engaged until near the end. He spent his final years at the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills.

Click here for a list of the John Sparey artwork posted on this blog.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bill Justice died. How about more information?

Floyd Norman said...

What a great guy. I met john in 1956 when I began my career at Disney. John and I were both in Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston's "Late Night Animation Class."

Sparey showed great promise as an animator. Me, not so much. John Sparey was always fun to talk with. I'll truly miss him.

Anonymous said...

R.I.P. Mr. Sparey!
He was a very nice man, a most excellent artist, and how he lived to be 83 was miraculous with his large size! He sent me to get something in his desk once at Bagdasarian's one day and inside the drawer was a supermarket of goodies. I never said anything, just surprised to see all that food in there.

Mr K.

Steven E. Gordon said...

John was definitely one of a kind. His grasp of scene planning was astounding and his ability to whether the craziness around him with the same deadpan humor was something to see.

There must be boxes of his in-studio gags somewhere that would be worth collecting into a book.

Steven E. Gordon said...

make that *weather* not *whether* -

Anonymous said...

In addition to being a talented artist and animator, John Sparey was very accomplished at the technical side of animation.

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