Leo D. Sullivan, pioneering animator and educator, dies at 82

Leo D. Sullivan, the pioneering animator who worked on the classic opening sequence for Soul Train as well as dozens of cartoons, has died. He was 82.

Sullivan died of heart failure at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center on Saturday, his wife Ethelyn Sullivan confirmed to the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. Over the course of his career, the Emmy-winning animator has appeared on various TV series, including The Incredible Hulk, Flash Gordon, BraveStarr, Transformers and Scooby-Doo.

In the 1970s, he designed the iconic cartoon steam locomotive that greeted viewers to “Soul Train” each week. According to his official bio, he also helped develop and animate the 1969 TV special Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert for NBC www.AfroKids.com.

In addition to breaking down barriers as an animator, Sullivan has made a name for himself as a producer, director, layout artist, storyboard artist, and writer while working for top animation studios such as Warner Bros., Filmation, New World, Richard Williams, and Hanna-Barbera .

While running animation studios in the United States, China, and the Philippines, he oversaw the development of animated series and films that were distributed in the United States, Thailand, Spain, France, Canada, Australia, Germany, and Ireland.

Outside of Hollywood, Sullivan has worked with the California Science Center, taught classic 2-D animation and digital animation at the Art Institute of California – Orange County, and has taught at UCLA.

In 1979 and again in 1991, Sullivan received awards from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in Oakland. His work has also been exhibited at the San Francisco Cartoon Museum and the Los Angeles African American Museum.

Among Sullivan’s closest associates was Floyd Norman, the first black animator to work at Disney. Together, Sullivan and Norman founded Vignette Films, which produced animated shorts educating high school students about black historical figures from George Washington Carver to Booker T. Washington.

The creative duo later joined forces to found AfroKids, a multimedia organization providing online resources and streaming content for Black parents and their children. Sullivan was featured prominently in the 2016 documentary Floyd Norman: An Animated Life.

He is survived by his wife and two children, Tina Sullivan Coleman and Leo Sullivan Jr.

“Empowering people — especially Black people, Black families, Black children — to build their self-esteem and value systems…that’s what I’m all about here,” Sullivan called in 2017.

“What about the next generation of people who will take over after we’re gone?”

Source : www.latimes.com

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