The Talented Bill Melendez

Spending more than 70 Years in the Entertainment Industry, Bill Melendez is Best Known for
Giving the PEANUTS TM Characters Life Including Classics: “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and “It’
s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

LOS ANGELES – September 3, 2008 – Bill Melendez, considered a pioneer in animation and
best known for bringing the PEANUTS TM characters to life, died early Tuesday morning
September 2nd at St. John’s hospital in Santa Monica. Doctors say Melendez died “peacefully.”
He was 91 years old preparing to celebrate his 92nd birthday in November.  

With his trademark handle bar mustache, Melendez was a phenomenal talent whose unique style
and distinct sense of humor inspired a generation. Melendez began his career at Walt Disney
Studios.  As a talented young animator he worked on Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi, Dumbo and
classic Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoons.
Years later, Melendez expanded his resume when he moved to Warner Bros. to animate other
famous cartoons such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig.

In 1948 Melendez left Warner Bros. and over the next decade and a half he served as a director
and producer on more than 1,000 commercials and films for United Productions of America
(UPA), Playhouse Pictures and John Sutherland Productions.  It was at UPA that Melendez
started doing work for New York-based J. Walter Thompson ad agency, whose client included
Ford Motor Co.  The car maker expressed interest in using PEANUTS characters to sell its cars
on television. In 1959 Melendez prepared his animation work and showed it to PEANUTS creator
Charles M. Schulz.  

A partnership and friendship followed and as a result, Melendez gave the PEANUTS kids life in
more than 63 half-hour specials, five one-hour specials, four feature films and more than 372
commercials.  Favorites include “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,”
“She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown,” and “You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown.” In addition to
creating the cartoons, Melendez also provided the voices for Snoopy and Woodstock.

Over the years, Melendez also animated “Garfield on the Town,” “Cathy,”  “Babar Comes to
America,” and “The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe,” among others.

Melendez, who was the only animator allowed to work with the PEANUTS characters won
numerous awards and accolades including: 17 Emmy Award nominations and eight (8) Emmy®
Award wins, one (1) Oscar® Award nomination, two (2) Peabody Awards, one (1) Clio, three (3)
National Cartoonist Society Awards, and more than 150 Advertising Awards.

Under the leadership of his son and other trusted executives, Bill Melendez Productions, Inc., its
sister studio Melendez Films in London and Sopwith Productions (Melendez’s art distribution unit)
will continue to animate, direct and produce features and commercials.  

Born Jose Cuautemoc in 1916 in Sonora, Mexico, his family moved to Arizona in 1928 and then
to Los Angeles in the early 1930s. Melendez trained at the Chouinard Art Studio (now CalArts)
and is a former faculty member of the Cinema Arts Department at USC.

Melendez is survived by his wife of 68 years Helen, two sons: Steven Melendez and (Ret.) Navy
Rear Admiral Rodrigo Melendez, six grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.  A memorial
service will take place for family only.

Donations can be made in Bill Melendez's name to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
In Cedar Rapids, Iowa:

With profound sadness, we said goodbye to our very much loved boss, Bill Melendez, as he peacefully died in the early morning
hours of September 2nd with his wife and son at his side.  

I personally feel very fortunate and blessed to have been able to share many good times with him over  12 years, let alone the
opportunity I was given to work with such a generous man.  Bill made it is so easy to admire him:  his "bon vivant" outlook on life,
his storytelling, his passion for his work and his ability to treat everyone with respect and dignity; and this is only the beginning of
his wonderful traits that he shared over the years.

Bill would want us to celebrate his life today.  Enjoy the day with the same "love of life" passion he had: smile and laugh, tell some
great stories, go out and enjoy a delicious lunch; perhaps tip a very dry vodka martini with a lemon twist as you toast Bill's life.
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