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Louis Scheimer (1928 - 2013)

Obituary
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October 19, 1928 - October 17, 2013 Los Angeles, CA - Louis (Lou) Scheimer, the renowned and much loved animation pioneer has died at his home at age 84, just two days shy of his 85th birthday, from Parkinson's Disease. Lou is survived by his beloved daughter Erika Scheimer and his son Lane Scheimer. Erika Scheimer, who worked with her father for decades at Filmation, the company founded by Lou, Norm Prescott, and Hal Sutherland in the early sixties, had been at his side over these final days. Also on hand were his devoted daughter-in-law, Amy Rosenberg, and sundry close friends, former employees and relations. Lou's wife Jay Scheimer, had passed in 2009. Lou often said that Jay was truly the woman behind the man, and she was greatly instrumental in making Filmation a reality. He often said that he could never have survived the early years without Jay's support. They were a most colorful couple; back in the day, some referred to them as the "George and Gracie" of the animation crowd. Lou graduated from Carnegie-Mellon in 1952, married in 1953 and moved to Los Angeles in 1955 to work in the animation industry. In 1962, Filmation Studios was created and became one of world's premiere animation houses. During this early period, the studio produced TV commercials and documentaries. In 1965, the studio unveiled its first Saturday morning series, "Superman", a solid hit which ran for three years on CBS. Soon to follow were a string of shows, including the arrival of "Aquaman", "Batman" and the phenomenally rated "Archies" show. Lou was widely credited with starting Saturday morning cartoons. From the "Archies" cartoons came the number one hit song "Sugar, Sugar", which has been re-recorded through the years some 29 times [and counting!]. It was also the number two song of the 1960's, second only to the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand". A number one song from a cartoon? This was the first animated show to include original songs with each episode. This was one of many "firsts" achieved throughout the life of Filmation. The praise from critics and viewers alike was even more enthusiastic for Filmation's proudest animation achievement, "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids". In its twelve year run, "Fat Albert" was acclaimed by parents, educators and children everywhere. It received countless honors, including a number of Emmy nominations and the prestigious Peabody Award. It was the show that Lou was most proud of. From then on, he made it his life's mission to produce children's shows that not only were entertaining, but also contained pro-social values and messages. After "Fat Albert" aired in the early seventies, Filmation had truly come into its own as a giant in the field of animation. Shows broadcast on CBS, NBC and ABC in that time period include "Groovie Ghoulies", "The Brady Kids", "Mission Magic", "Jerry Lewis", the "Fabulous Funnies", "Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle, "Tom and Jerry", "Space Sentinels", "Lassie", and "Gilligan's Island". Subsequently, Lou ventured into live-action shows with such hits as "Shazam-Isis Hour", the original "Ghostbusters", "Ark II", "Space Academy" and "Jason of Star Command". In addition, Filmation made a triumphant foray into theatrical feature production with "Journey Back to Oz" in 1973. That year also marked the first of many prime time specials, including "Oliver Twist", "Treasure Island", "Fat Albert" and "A Snow White Christmas". In 1981, Filmation unveiled "Blackstarr", a sword and sorcery fantasy that rocketed to the top of the Saturday morning ratings. This was not surprising considering Filmation's acknowledged leadership in producing quality animated adventure shows. Beginning with "Fantastic Voyage" and "Journey to the Center of the Earth" in 1967, the studio went on to produce the now classic, Emmy award winning animated "Star Trek" series, as well as animated versions of "Tarzan", "Zorro", "The Lone Ranger", "Flash Gordon". In 1983, Lou created the marketplace for first-run syndication of animated shows. Filmation took on its most ambitious project to date: the "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" series. Over the years Filmation produced 130 "He-Man" episodes directly for syndication. Once again, Lou made positive messages a hallmark of the show. The results: another winner, both in domestic ratings and in unprecedented international sales in thirty countries in the first year alone. Two years later, in 1985, Filmation brought He-Man's twin sister "She-Ra, Princess of Power" to the syndicated world. Lou always felt that little girls were underserved in the world of super heroes. He made it a cause to change that with She-Ra. It too was a huge success at home and abroad. After Filmation closed, the now legendary Lou Scheimer had grown to be one of the most loved men in the animation industry. He became known for trying to keep animation in the U.S., and he fought hard to do so. Additionally, it was of great importance to him that Filmation train the next generation of animators in America. Many of Lou's former employees can, to this day, be found working at Disney, DreamWorks, Pixar, and more. Indeed, many will tell you that it was Lou who gave them their start in the business. Lou's legacy of shows saw a whole new life in recent years, as DVD collections of his many shows began to proliferate in the 1990's. The fact that a new generation of kids would be able to watch his Filmation shows gave Lou endless joy. Hundreds of fan mail letters and emails just keep on coming. Do an online search and read all about it. It is a great American, rags-to-riches story you will much enjoy. In lieu of flowers, Lou and his family kindly request that donations to Parkinson's research be made in his honor.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Oct. 20, 2013
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