Remembering Frank Terry, Animation Industry Veteran

Shawn 02.21.2014

On Feb 11th, animator industry veteran, Frank Terry passed away at age 75 from complications of pulmonary fibrosis. He is remembered as a legend in the field.

Terry graduated from the prestigious Chouinard Art Institute in LA in 1964, and went on produce countless animations for clients like Pillsbury, Kellogg’s, and Mattel at Duck Soup Produckions before looping back to his old alma mater, now the world-renowned California Institute of the Arts.

Frank returned to serve as Director of the Character Animation Program from 1996-2007 where for over a decade he personally molded talented young animators to join distinguished Character Animation Program alums like:

  • Tim Burton (Nightmare Before Christmas)
  • Jerry Rees (The Brave Little Toaster)
  • John Musker (The Little Mermaid)
  • Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille)
  • John Lasseter (Toy Story)
  • Michael Giaimo (Frozen)
  • Glen Keane (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Henry Selick (Coraline)

Terry was always at the hub of cutting edge animation. Known for his work on the Beatles cartoons in ‘65-66, he always pushed the envelope with experimental work, like the 1984 AniJam – a collaboration of 22 animators who contributed work based solely off the last frame of the previous animator’s section. Terry’s piece appears at 3:56:

Recipient of both Gold and Bronze New York International TV and Film Festival awards, and the New York Art Directors Club Award for “Most Unexceptional Animation,” Terry was a respected and influential innovator in the rise of the modern animation industry.

Just yesterday, our art director Robert Kopecky was contacted just yesterday by a collector in Germany regarding a cell illustration from his first animation job in 1981 – an animation of Ed Koren’s “Hairy Monsters” for Duck Soup Productions. As if working with one legend – “Mr. Koren” – wasn’t enough pressure for his first gig, the art director was Frank Terry.

Robert remembers his first day working with Ed and Frank:

Inking any character for fluid animation is a challenge, but particularly those dang hairy monsters. A certain amount of “crawl” was unavoidable, but the client hit the ceiling watching our first samples flutter and bristle like some kind of wild pen-and-ink mitosis. After a while, I got the hang of it, creating a series of “anchor lines” that rode the action of Frank’s rough animation sketches (I got to do the pencil clean-ups first, of course). In the end, the crawl was kept to a minimum, and I had my first taste of that unique gratification that comes from seeing animation that you’ve contributed to, up alive on the screen.

Robert remembers another personal moment with Frank:

When I was about 21 or 22 and Frank first looked at my portfolio, he said, “I envy you the career you’re going to have.” That’s still something that keeps me in this business, all these years later.

Known for his countless animations, but remembered for his warm spirit and constant encouragement, Frank Terry was a giant in the animation industry and will be missed for the characters he helped create and the thriving animation community he helped foster.


Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at

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