Screenshot from Alice in Wonderland Blu-ray trailer
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Credit: Screenshot from Alice in Wonderland, courtesy of Disney Video

Classic Disney animator, Smurf director Don Lusk dies at 105

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Dec 31, 2018

Don Lusk, longtime Disney animator and Hanna-Barbera director, has died. The multi-hyphenate artist behind dozens of iconic characters roaming throughout animation was 105. His longevity was matched only by his output, as Lusk’s six-decade career saw him make the faces of Alice in Wonderland, Charlie Brown, Babar, Papa Smurf, and Goofy familiar to an entire culture.

Disney conceptual artist Mike Peraza and Lusk’s friend Juliette Paskowitz confirmed Lusk’s death on Facebook. “Very sad to report that our good friend Don has passed on,” Peraza wrote. “As with so many animation veterans he was as talented (and he was) as he was generous to others with his advice and help over the years. He will be missed but his wonderful work will live on.”

Lusk worked for Disney doing both shorts and features, first tackling Goofy’s early appearances before moving on to animating characters and segments on films like Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp. One of his final Disney jobs was animating some of the 101 Dalmatians, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "I just barely got credit," he said. "I think I was the next to last name."

He then moved on to the world of Peanuts, working on holiday specials like A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown. Other cartoon creations Lusk helped make into TV mainstays were Jonny Quest, Scooby-Doo, the Addams family (in animated form, of course), and Captain Planet and the Planeteers. But The Smurfs was one of his biggest achievements, as he directed over 130 episodes of the ‘80s phenomenon.

With a lifetime achievement honor from the Annie Awards and a career as long and varied as the list of modern animation he’s influenced, Lusk shaped fans’ childhoods and the culture at large as one of the last representatives of Disney's Golden Age.

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