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'Toon Titan Chuck Jones Dies
Yahoo! News

Sun Feb 24, 4:12 PM ET

That's all, folks.,

Chuck Jones--the brilliant 'toonmeister from whose imagination sprung forth Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote and Pepe Le Pew, among many more--died Friday at his Southern California home. He was 89.

He died of congestive heart failure with his wife of 20 years, Marian, at his side, his family said in a statement.

Considered the most influential animation force this side of Walt Disney, Jones won two Oscars as a director and an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement for a career that included more than 300 films spanning seven decades and took two autobiographies, Chuck Amuck and Chuck Reducks, to chronicle.

"If you are in that trade of helping others to laugh and to survive by laughter, then you are privileged indeed," he wrote in Chuck Amuck.

He was one of the original Looney Tunes cartoonists who masterminded Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig for Warner Bros. during the 1930s and '40s.

Jones personally created such characters as the Road Runner and his eternal pursuer, Wile E. Coyote, as well as the hapless would-be Earth conqueror Marvin Martian and unlucky-in-love French skunk Pepe Le Pew. He kept working and adapting to technology well into his 80s: He debuted Thomas Timber Wolf in a series of Web-based shorts in 2000--45 years after he created his penultimate character (and current WB mascot), Michigan J. Frog.

Born on September 21, 1912 in Spokane, Washington, Jones grew up in Hollywood, where he found work as a child extra in Mack Sennett comedies and soaked up first-hand the comic stylings of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton--which played a big role later in Jones' cartoons.

After graduating art school, he made money drawing street portraits before landing his first job in 1932 as a cel washer for former Disney animator Ub Iwerks.

Following a four-year apprenticeship under Iwerks, Jones was hired as an animator for the Leon Schlesinger Studio, which was later gobbled up by Warner Bros. Soon, from a cramped quarters in a backlot bungalow with the 'Toon Town nickname Termite Terrace, he and fellow 'toonsmiths like Tex Avery, Bob Clampett and Friz Freleng were cranking out Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, introducing Bugs, Daffy and Porky to the world.

"The cavemen used to draw on walls. In [the '30s], we were the Cro-Magnons of animation," he once quipped.

Jones' first directorial effort was the six-minute 1938 short The Night Watchman, for which he oversaw all creative and technical production.

In the '40s, he helmed a series of World War II training films starring the character Private SNAFU, and he also did a re-election film for Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When Warners' animation unit was shuttered in 1962, Jones moved to MGM, where he created new episodes of Tom & Jerry and directed the full-length feature The Phantom Tollbooth and the Oscar-winning The Dot and the Line.

In 1966, he did his most memorable post-Looney Tunes project: the TV cartoon version of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas , which earned a Peabody Award and has become a holiday fixture. Over the next decade, he adapted another Seuss book, Horton Hears a Who, as well as several Rudyard Kipling stories, including Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and The White Seal.

In addition to his Oscar troika and the Peabody Award, Jones' seminal 1957 Bugs vs. Elmer short What's Opera, Doc (which included Elmer singing "Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit!" to the strains of Wagner) was inducted into the National Film Registry. Jones' artwork has also been exhibited in museums worldwide, including New York's Museum of Modern Art. He was also given an honorary lifetime membership to the Directors Guild of America.

Jones was also one of three animators in the inaugural class of the Animation Hall of Fame, with Disney and cartoon creator Winsor McCay.

Jones is survived by second wife Marian, daughter Linda (by his first wife, Dorothy Webster), a brother, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Per tradition, flowers were placed on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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