Lou Scheimer, a giant in TV animation, passed away earlier this week.
Lou Scheimer, founder of Filmation Studio and one of the pioneers of Saturday morning television, has passed away at 84. According to the Los Angeles Times, the TV veteran passed away on Tuesday, after living with Parkinson’s disease.
Scheimer’s company was behind such classics as Fat Albert, He-Man and several cartoons set in the DC universe, all fondly remembered by 70s, 80s and even 90s kids. Scheimer was most notable for his company’s modus operandi, however. In the 80s, Filmation was the largest animation studio in the US, and, quite admirably, Scheimer was one of the few in the business, still refusing to export work overseas. However, this approach was not without its faults, as the studio’s cartoons were criticized by connoisseurs at large for lacking the fluidity of motion and the kind of artistry, seen in earlier animated pictures.
Scheimer defended the Filmation productions with the following statement, made in 1981 in an LA Times interview: "Given the demands of the network schedules, it's practically impossible to take all care and love we would like to on the technical aspects. We'd love to do theatrical shorts, and if you can find somebody to pay for them, let us know."
Lou Scheimer founded Filmation in 1961, using a loan from his mother. However, the studio was slow to take off. Its first production, Red Rocket, was a poorly animated futuristic cartoon with a limited audience. Scheimer’s ambitions, however, were soon to take the company to new heights. He had his sights set on producing a Superman cartoon for DC Comics. However, DC execs wanted to visit the Filmation operation, which at that point had only a few employees, to see how the studio worked. Scheimer, ever the creative type, scrambled to call anyone he knew and gather friends and acquaintances as pretend staff, filling up the studio with people milling about and making fake drawings.
The scheme worked and Filmation produced The Adventures of Superman, which turned out to be the studio’s big break. Eventually, the company went on to employ hundreds of people and produced some of the most beloved cartoons of a generation and Scheimer left a legacy that won't soon be forgotten.
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