Monday, May 30, 2016
Bob Birchard, a sturdy pillar of the L.A. animation industry and one of the most knowledgeable film historians in the U.S. of A., has departed.
Bob was "the film's buff's film buff", and knew almost everything there was to know about silent films. (He had interviewed an immense number of silent movie actors and directors, so it stood to reason. If you needed to know what film titles had come out of the the "Flying A" movie studio in Santa Barbara circa 1915, he was the go-to guy. I mean, who the hell has even HEARD of the Flying A studio in Santa Barbara?)
Mr. Birchard was also a hugely talented film editor. In the 1990s, he edited close to half the output of Walt Disney Television Animation, including series and direct-to-video features. (He was the editor of Disney's first direct-to-video feature, "The Return of Jafar"). He did all this while writing books and articles on the old movies that he loved, and watching a half dozen films a week. (I get tired just thinking about it).
He exited the confines of the planet at 5:20 this morning at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Burbank. He leaves behind his brother Paul, his nieces Amy, Rosie, Nina, his nephew Ross, and a monumental body of work. He will be sorely missed. ...
On a personal note, I was friends with Bob from the time we were elementary school kids until early today. He was passionate about silent films for as long as I can remember. In high school, a bunch of us sat in my living room watching Bob's Blackhawk Films' 8mm print of "Birth of a Nation". I was still watching Bob's silent movies (in 16 millimeter format, no more 8mm for us!) half a century later.
Rest in peace, Robert. I'll miss you a lot. I already do.
(Some of Bob's prolific output, including his seminal work on Cecil B. DeMille, can be found here.)
Posted by Steve Hulett at 11:45 AM