We’ve just received word that Hal Sutherland, who began his career as a Disney animator in 1954, and gained industry recognition in the 1960s as co-founder and animation director at Filmation Associates, passed away on Thursday January 16th – according to his daughter Lisa. He was 85 years old and died “due to health complications related to gallbladder”.
Sutherland joined Disney during a ramp-up in production on Sleeping Beauty (1959), working mainly on the Prince’s horse, Samson. After a lay-off, Sutherland hooked up with Lou Scheimer while working on Bozo The Clown TV cartoons for Larry Harmon.
Sutherland and Scheimer teamed up with former disc jockey Norm Prescott to form Filmation Associates in 1962 – and they began working on a feature Journey Back To Oz (which was ultimately completed and released in 1974). Filmation exploded in the late 1960s, becoming a powerhouse TV animation studio with pre-sold properties like Superman, Aquaman, The Archies, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Fat Albert and Star Trek.
Sutherland went into semi-retirement in 1974, moving to Washington state to focus on fine-art painting. As a consultant to Filmation, Sutherland last directed the theatrical feature film Pinocchio And The Emperor Of The Night in 1987.
This clip, below, from The Archie Show in 1968, is probably Sutherland’s most widely seen piece of work. However, his personal artwork and paintings show a different side – and one that should be more well known.
(Thanks to Rod Cockle for additional information)