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Michael Sporn (1946-2014)

Michael Sporn (1946-2014)

Academy Award nominated
animation director Michael Sporn has passed away.
 A champion and staple of the New York
animation scene since the 1970s, Sporn’s presence – both behind the camera and
online through his “splog” – will be missed by the entire community. He died Sunday morning from pancreatic cancer.

Animating professionally since 1972, Sporn worked
closely with animation directors John
& Faith Hubley and Richard Williams (Sporn was the
Supervising Assitant animator on Williams 1977 feature Raggedy Ann & Andy).
After supervising many commercials and a PBS Special (“Simple Gifts”)
for R.O. Blechman, he formed his
own company.

From the bio on his website:

The first films included: an animated short for
children, “Byron Blackbear & The Scientific Method”; titles for a
Sidney Lumet feature film, Prince
Of The City; and animation for the Broadway musical, Woman of The Year.

Work produced for the non-theatrical distributor
Weston Woods included a number of successful short films: MORRIS’ DISAPPEARING
BAG, THE AMAZING BONE, THE MYSTERIOUS TADPOLE, and DOCTOR DESOTO. All were
adaptations of renowned children’s books.

Doctor DeSoto was nominated for an Academy Award, and Sporn’s studio
found its niche producing films for television and home video. Some of these
are children’s book adaptations, which exactly reproduce the illustrators’
styles. Others are adaptations of tales, designed in the studio, and still
others are wholly original.

Better known titles of his films include: THE RED
SHOES, ABEL’S ISLAND (Emmy Nominee),
THE DANCING FROG (CableACE Award Winner),
LYLE LYLE CROCODILE, WHITEWASH (Emmy and CableACE Nominee), THE LITTLE MATCH
GIRL, IRA SLEEPS OVER (CableACE Award
Winner), THE COUNTRY MOUSE & THE CITY MOUSE (CableACE Nominee), MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL, and THE
POKY LITTLE PUPPY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS (CableACE
Nominee).

The award winning films Champagne and Whitewash
represented a different direction – serious animation which presented issues of
social relevance.

Recent titles include adaptations of the books Good
Night Moon (Emmy Winner), Happy
To Be Nappy (Emmy Winner), and a
Grandma Moses version of The Night Before Christmas.

The Man Who Walked Between The Towers, completed in
2005, is a 10 min. short film adapted from the book by Mordicai Gerstein.

Sporn was in production on a feature length film based
on the life and works of Edgar Allan
Poe at the time of his passing. He was 67 when he died and is sur­vived by his wife, direc­tor Heidi Stallings. 

More about Michael’s work can be found on his blog. John Canemaker and Michael Barrier offer their recollections and tributes here

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