Pixar animator Bud Luckey, who created the Tom Hanks-voiced character of Woody the cowboy sheriff for the Toy Story series and spent decades in the world of animation and voice acting for both film and television, has died at the age of 83.
Luckey, originally from Montana, passed away February 24, 2018, at his home in Newtown, Connecticut. His son, Andy, made the announcement via a Facebook post.
“He'll be deeply missed by his friends, family and colleagues to whom he was just ‘Bud,’” Andy Luckey said. “His kind and easy going demeanor led his PIXAR colleagues to dub him ‘Bud Low-Key.’”
Luckey worked in animation long before the advent of Pixar and CGI, helping create one of public television’s most iconic educational shorts — “The Ladybug Picnic” — along with many similar animated bits, in partnership with Sesame Street lyricist Donald Hadley.
He went on to become one of the first animators Pixar hired, and took on a multifaceted role at the studio that extended beyond animation. In addition to creating Woody, the badge-wearing cowboy sheriff, for Pixar’s 1995 CGI milestone Toy Story, Luckey also did extensive voice work. He even voiced another character in the Toy Story franchise: Chuckles the Clown in Toy Story 3.
Luckey also voiced many other characters in the Disney universe, including Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh (2011) and Rick Dicker in The Incredibles (2004). He earned an Oscar nomination that same year for voicing a jackalope in the animated short Boundin’. On the animation side, Luckey played an ongoing role in designing characters for many Pixar projects, including A Bug's Life (1998), Monsters, Inc. (2001), and Cars (2006).
In a featurette on Luckey’s role in Boundin’, Toy Story director and Pixar creative chief John Lasseter described him as one of the studio’s most important creative talents from its very earliest days. “Bud is one of the true unsung heroes of animation,” Lasseter said.