Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lee Guttman, RIP

Lee Guttman, a veteran inker in Animationland, had one of the more compelling biographies of anyone who's worked in the business.

Lee was born in Germany in 1925. Her parents were wealthy, also Jewish. And when Corporal Schicklegruber (Adolf Hitler) gained power, they read the writing on the wall and got out of the country, but only barely. Lee got out first, helped by Christian friends. If she hadn't been young, petite, and pretending to sleep wrapped up in a coat on a train chugging out of the country, she likely would have been grabbed by the Gestapo.

The Guttman family made its way to London, where Lee attended high school and lived through the blitz. At eighteen she dropped out of art school to join the Royal Air Force, working as a translator. At twenty she was the war bride of an American service man. At twenty-one she was stateside. ...

Lee lived in New York City (she loved it), and Wisconsin (she didn't love it). Her husband was a dentist, and eventually the two of them moved to Los Angeles and bought a house in the Hollywood hills. Maybe because she lived directly above Hanna-Barbera, or maybe because art was in her soul (see above), Lee found her way into the animation business. For decades she worked as an inker, working on both features and TV shows.*

Late in life, years after retirement, she began making appearances on "The Tonight Show"

Lee was always spirited, always fearless. (Perhaps the times in which made her that way.) She wasn't a "name" in animation, but she lived a life worth noting, so we note it here. She died on October 15 at age ninety.

Sleep well, Ms. Guttman. You made a difference.

* Lee was also an inker on "Sleeping Beauty", but inkers weren't credited on the feature, so IMDB has no record of the work.


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