Snoopy cartoonist dies, aged 91

BILL MELENDEZ, the animator who gave life to Snoopy, Charlie Brown and other Peanuts characters, has died aged 91.

Melendez died of natural causes on Tuesday at St John’s Health Centre, Santa Monica.

Melendez’s nearly seven decades as a professional animator began in 1938 when he was hired by Walt Disney Studios and worked on Mickey Mouse cartoons and classic animated features such as Pinocchio.

He went on to animate TV specials such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and was the voice of Snoopy, who never spoke intelligible words but issued expressive howls, sighs and sobs.

Melendez was born in 1916 in Hermosillo in the Mexican state of Sonora. He moved to Arizona in 1928 and to Los Angeles in the 1930s, attending the Chouinard Art Institute.

He later moved to Warner Bros, where he worked on Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck shorts.

In 1948, Melendez left Warner Bros and over the next 15 years worked as a director and producer on more than 1,000 commercials and movies.

Melendez met Peanuts creator Charles M Schulz in 1959 while creating Ford Motor commercials featuring Peanuts characters.

The two became friends and Melendez was the only person Schulz authorised to animate his characters.

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