Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

Monday, March 05, 2018 1:00 am

Luckey, prolific Pixar animator, dies at 83

Washington Post

Bud Luckey, an Oscar-nominated animator who crafted hand-drawn, two-dimensional characters for more than three decades before using new digital tools to create Woody, the pull-string star of Pixar's “Toy Story,” died Feb. 24 at a hospice center in Newtown, Connecticut. He was 83.

He had suffered a stroke in 2013, said his son, Andy Luckey.

Luckey began his career as a protege of Art Babbitt, the Walt Disney animator who developed the long-eared character Goofy and the wicked queen of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Working out of San Francisco, Luckey animated the original Alvin and the Chipmunks television series, collaborated with “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz on advertisements for Dolly Madison snack cakes and devised entire segments for “Sesame Street,” in which his hillbilly-fiddler character Donnie Budd introduced young viewers to the numbers two through six.

By the early 1990s, Luckey's curiosity was piqued by plans for a computer-generated film at Pixar. He was soon hired as the studio's fifth animator and worked variously as a character designer, storyboard artist or voice performer for “Toy Story” (1995) and nearly every Pixar movie that followed.

Luckey was “one of the true unsung heroes of animation,” John Lasseter, who directed “Toy Story” and went on to become the studio's chief creative officer, said in a 2004 Pixar documentary.

Luckey helped shape the whimsical worlds and characters of movies such as “A Bug's Life” (1998), “Toy Story 2” (1999), “Monsters, Inc.” (2001), “Cars” (2006) and “Ratatouille” (2007).

He also performed voice work, lending his native Montana baritone to characters including government agent Rick Dicker in “The Incredibles” (2004), the despondent clown Chuckles in “Toy Story 3” (2010) and Eeyore in the 2011 adaptation of “Winnie the Pooh.”