The world of animation lost a pioneer this weekend with the passing of Lou Scheimer, the founder of the award-winning Filmation studio. The Los Angeles Times reports that Scheimer had Parkinson’s disease and the veteran animator died in his home on Thursday. He was 84.
The man who would go on to found Filmation was born October 19, 1928 in Pittsburgh, PA. After graduating with an art degree from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, he relocated to California to begin his career in animation. He started his lauded company in 1962 with a $5,000 loan from his mother-in-law and worked out of a humble office space. Filmation scored early successes with the space adventure series Rod Rocket and its first major hit show, The New Adventures of Superman. In order to secure the opportunity to make a television series about DC Comics’ flagship hero, Scheimer relied on some clever tactics. The company had virtually no staff, so Scheimer filled his office with friends who appeared hard at work when the DC executives came by to evaluate Filmation’s capabilities. The ruse worked and the Superman series led Filmation down the road to success.
Throughout the years, Filmation added more staff until for a period of time in the 1980’s, it was the largest animation company in the country. Scheimer and his employees are credited with gracing televisions with shows such as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra: Princess of Power, The New Adventures of Batman, Star Trek: The Animates Series, The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle, and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, among other cartoon staples. Scheimer retired years ago but continued making appearances at conventions and other events to discuss the animation business. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Many of us have Lou Scheimer to thank for all those Saturday morning cartoons we loved. I have vivid memories of waking up early to catch The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour, as well as incessantly badgering my parents for the latest He-Man action figures. Of course, I was also a passionate Fat Albert devotee and I will always have Filmation to thank for such a hilariously ludicrous series. And of course, that He-Man/She-Ra Christmas special is comedy gold, unintentionally or not. While Filmation may not have always been the most advanced animation studio and did have a number of duds, many of its properties are now irreplaceable parts of our culture.
RIP Lou Scheimer, thanks for all the good times.
What were some of your favorite Filmation properties? Do you have any thoughts about the company’s approach to animation? Let us know in the comments!