Eddy Houchins writes us:
I just got word from a friend in Montreal that Jim Hiltz has just passed away. He would have been about 85, as he is approximately the same age as my own Dad. Jim was a great director, animator and teacher. Jim worked at Terrytoons, animating "Heckle and Jekyll" and went on to various commercial and tv houses including Film Fair and Bill Melendez Studios.
He was probably best known for his work on much of the Jay Ward product, including directing some of the "Fractured Fairy Tales" and "Super Chicken" and "Tom Slick." Sometime in the 1970's Jim emigrated to Canada where he worked as the lead animator and director at Michael Mills Studios helping create animated commercials and award winning short films, including the 1980 Oscar nominated "History of the World in Three Minutes Flat."
As a young animator I got my first "real" job at Michael Mills' place in 1980 and immediately met Jim who took me and all the other young animators under his wing. In those days we had not just respect, but downright AWE for the older guys who had "been there." We hung on his every word and studied his pencil tests frame by frame, soaking up his drawing skills and timing finesse. At night, after he'd go home, we'd slip into his office and sit and flip his drawings on a light table just to study "the real thing." I learned more about animation from my three years working under Jim as my director than I ever learned in school or on any other job.
After his stint at Mills, he freelanced and taught at Concordia University for awhile, and I suppose eventually retired. After I left Canada in 1991 I lost touch with him, but got the word today from my old friend, Normand Rompre, a former cameraman from Mills' studio that Jim had passed.
I remember I was at the Ottawa Festival with him in 1983 and June Foray and Bill Scott were there and performed a "Rocky and Bullwinkle" script live to our delight. Afterwards, I was standing with Jim in the lobby and when June walked out, he said to me, "hang on, I have to say hello to an old friend." He walked up to June, said, "Remember me?" and she screamed, "JIM!!!" and practically jumped into his arms. Maybe you guys can break the news to her. I sure can't.