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Walter Lantz



Born 27 April 1899 in New Rochelle, New York to an Italian immigrant couple, Walter Lantz proved to have natural artistic talent from a very young age, and had completed a mail-order drawing class by the time he was twelve years old. Working as an auto mechanic in his teens inadvertently led to his illustrious career as a famous cartoonist and animator: a wealthy customer saw Lantz’s drawings on the bulletin board at the auto shop and liked them so much that he paid for the boy to study at the Art Students’ League in New York City.

By the time Lantz was sixteen years old, he was working in the animation department at the school and it wasn’t long before he was hired by the John R. Bray Studios, where he worked on the Jerry on the Job series, and by 1924, Lantz had directed, animated, and even starred in his first cartoon series. In 1927, he moved to Hollywood to further his career and was soon hired by Universal Studios as an animator, director, and independent producer. During his time with Universal he contributed to and created such beloved characters as Woody Woodpecker, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Space Mouse, Homer Pigeon, Chilly Willy, Andy Panda, and Charlie Chicken.

Lantz eventually retired in 1972, although he continued to draw and paint in addition to becoming involved with youth groups and Little League. He was also a generous philanthropist, donating seventeen coveted artifacts to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, in addition to a $10,000 scholarship and prize for animators at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. Lantz also received industry recognition for his work. The Los Angeles City Council named him “one of America's most outstanding animated film cartoonists” in 1959, he earned the Annie Award from ASIFA/Hollywood in 1973, and 1979 brought him a special Academy Award “for bringing joy and laughter to every part of the world through his unique animated motion pictures.” In 1986 he received a much-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Walter Lantz passed away on 22 March 1994.
View works by Walter Lantz