Academy Award nominated animation director Michael Sporn has passed away. A champion and staple of the New York animation scene since the 1970s, Sporn’s presence – both behind the camera and online through his “splog” – will be missed by the entire community. He died Sunday morning from pancreatic cancer.
Animating professionally since 1972, Sporn worked closely with animation directors John & Faith Hubley and Richard Williams (Sporn was the Supervising Assitant animator on Williams 1977 feature Raggedy Ann & Andy). After supervising many commercials and a PBS Special ("Simple Gifts") for R.O. Blechman, he formed his own company.
From the bio on his website:
Sporn was in production on a feature length film based on the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe at the time of his passing. He was 67 when he died and is survived by his wife, director Heidi Stallings.
The first films included: an animated short for children, "Byron Blackbear & The Scientific Method"; titles for a Sidney Lumet feature film, Prince Of The City; and animation for the Broadway musical, Woman of The Year.
Work produced for the non-theatrical distributor Weston Woods included a number of successful short films: MORRIS' DISAPPEARING BAG, THE AMAZING BONE, THE MYSTERIOUS TADPOLE, and DOCTOR DESOTO. All were adaptations of renowned children's books.
Doctor DeSoto was nominated for an Academy Award, and Sporn's studio found its niche producing films for television and home video. Some of these are children's book adaptations, which exactly reproduce the illustrators' styles. Others are adaptations of tales, designed in the studio, and still others are wholly original.
Better known titles of his films include: THE RED SHOES, ABEL'S ISLAND (Emmy Nominee), THE DANCING FROG (CableACE Award Winner), LYLE LYLE CROCODILE, WHITEWASH (Emmy and CableACE Nominee), THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL, IRA SLEEPS OVER (CableACE Award Winner), THE COUNTRY MOUSE & THE CITY MOUSE (CableACE Nominee), MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL, and THE POKY LITTLE PUPPY'S FIRST CHRISTMAS (CableACE Nominee).
The award winning films Champagne and Whitewash represented a different direction - serious animation which presented issues of social relevance.
Recent titles include adaptations of the books Good Night Moon (Emmy Winner), Happy To Be Nappy (Emmy Winner), and a Grandma Moses version of The Night Before Christmas.
The Man Who Walked Between The Towers, completed in 2005, is a 10 min. short film adapted from the book by Mordicai Gerstein.