Gene Deitch Dead: ‘Tom & Jerry’ Cartoon Director Dies at 95

Gene Deitch

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Award-winning animator and director Gene Deitch died on April 16 at the age of 95. He died unexpectedly on Thursday night in his apartment in Prague, Czech Republic, according to CTK.

Deitch’s cause of death has not been confirmed. He is survived by his wife, Zdenka Najmanová, and his three sons from his first marriage.

Deitch, whose full name is Eugene Merril Deitch, was born on August 8, 1924, in Chicago, Illinois, to his mother Ruth Delson Deitch and his father Joseph Deitch. They moved to California in 1929, and in 1942 he graduated from Los Angeles High School, according to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.

Deitch started an apprenticeship at United Productions of America in 1955 and after became the creative director for the animation studio Terrytoons. During his time with the studio, he created cartoon characters like Gaston Le Crayon, Tom Terrific, Sidney the Elephant and Clint Clobber, the NCSML reported.

He was fired from Terrytoons in 1958, and he proceeded to open up his own studio, Gene Deitch Associates, Inc. In 1959, Deitch arrived in Prague with the intention of only staying a short while. However, he met his future second wife, Najmanová, and he decided to stay in the city, he told a Czech media outlet in 2018.

Deitch Is Known for Multiple Cartoons, Including Tom & Jerry

According to his official IMDb page, he started working in the film industry in the 1940s. He performed a variety of roles during a career that spanned over five decades.

He may be best known for creating and directing the animated cartoons Munro, Tom Terrific and several shorts featuring his character Nudnik. Munro, which is about a young boy getting drafted into the United States Army, won an Oscar in 1961 for Best Short Subject, Cartoons.

He is also known for directing over a dozen episodes of the animated series Tom and Jerry. Deitch worked as the supervising director for 28 episodes of another classic TV series, Popeye the Sailor, according to IMDb.

Fans on Social Media React to Gene Deitch’s Death

After the news of Gene Deitch’s death broke, fans took to Twitter and Instagram to share their thoughts.

A fan created an entire Instagram account dedicated to Gene Deitch:

A fan named Tushit Kamble tweeted:

He said, “Thank you Sir Gene Deitch, for making [our] childhood so fun I believe, future generations will be loving the show because there’s not a single person present who didn’t [like] watching the iconic ‘Tom and Jerry’ and Popeye Cartoons. Rest in peace #GeneDeitch #TomandJerry.”

A user named Francis Joseph tweeted:

He said, “Gene Deitch, the creator of Tom & Jerry has left for the Heavenly Creator. You added so much happiness to all our lives, no matter how young or old. Salute and Respect. #RIPGeneDeitch.”

Another user tweeted:

They said, “Tom and Jerry director Gene Deitch dies at the age of 95. Thank you for [making] our childhood a memorable one. Rest in peace.”

One Twitter user posted:

They said, “Bye Gene Deitch… Thank you for making the best childhood for many and many people across generations (1924-2020).”

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