Legendary animator Ron Campbell, who worked on The Beatles' film "Yellow Submarine," as well as hit shows "The Smurfs" and "The Flintstones," has died at age 81. His friend and business partner, Scott Segelbaum shared the news Friday.
"It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have received news that famed animator/producer/director/storyboard artist Ron Campbell has passed away at age 81," Segelbaum wrote in a Facebook post. "Ron was a dear friend and my business partner for over a decade. His death leaves a huge void."
No cause of death has been revealed.
Born Dec. 26, 1939, in Australia, Campbell began his career as an animator in the late 50s, working on "Beetle Bailey" and "Krazy Kat." Success came after he directed "The Beatles" cartoon series, which aired from 1965 to 1969 and included the band's music and voices, according to Best Classic Bands.
Campbell later moved to the U.S., where he wrote and worked on "Sesame Street" as well as the original "George of the Jungle." By the late 60s, he had landed the role as animator for the Beatles' feature film, "Yellow Submarine." From there, Campbell went on to work on various hit shows including "The Smurfs," "The Flintstones," "The Jetsons," and "Scooby Doo," as well as 90s cartoons "Rugrats" and "Rocket Power."
In a 2019 interview with Indy Week, Campbell explained one of the most "striking features" of the cartoon series he was involved in was their cultural significance.
"There were children who were having horrible, unpleasant childhoods, and children having wonderful childhoods, and children having childhoods in between," he said. "But they all found sustenance, relief, inspiration, and joy in rushing to the TV on Saturday morning and watching our shows. And now, all of those children are adults, and they're so happy to talk to somebody who helped make those shows and express their enthusiasm and nostalgia for them."
Campbell retired from animating in 2008 and took up painting.
"As he started touring the United States, visiting art galleries and meeting the audience that grew up with his cartoons, he realized something that never occurred to him at the time . . . the incredible impact that cartoons had on the audience," Segelbaum wrote. "Saturday morning cartoons were some of their happiest childhood memories. This created a special bond between Ron and the people who came out to meet him, see his artwork, and even purchase a family heirloom."