The shenanigans of everyone’s favorite cat and mouse, Tom and Jerry, have been around since the 1940s and in that time it has gained international renown. Today, one of the series beloved directors, Gene Deitch, died at the age of 95. His publisher, Petr Himmel, gave a statement to the Associated Press indicating that Deitch died “unexpectedly.” Eugene ‘Gene’ Merrill Deitch directed 13 episodes of Tom and Jerry, some episodes of the Popeye series, was the creator of the Tom Terrific series, co-produced Sidney’s Family Tree, and created several other movies and series.
Deitch’s story is an interesting one, it begins with his work for North American Aviation as a draftsman. While working there, he was drafted by the military, where he received pilot training. After his medical discharge from the military, Deitch moved to Prague in 1959 and that is where he lived until his death in 2020. After his move to Prague, Deitch’s career gained momentum and he worked and created all of his works while living there.
Deitch won several awards for his work, including the 1960 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and an Oscar for his work on Tom and Jerry. He was nominated for several more for his works, such as Here’s Nudnik, How to Avoid Friendship and Sidney’s Family Tree. Since his passing, several of his fans have taken to Twitter—you can read many of their tweets here, under the hashtag #RIPGeneDeitch—to express their love of his work and legacy.
Our hearts go out to his three sons, all of whom are cartoonists, and his wife. This award-winning cartoonist has brought untold joy and entertainment to countless people throughout the course of his storied career. This beloved illustrator and director will forever be in our hearts as his work will remain among the most iconic cartoons of all time.