On this day, February 23, 1975, in M(ichigan)M(ovie)H(istory) American cartoon animator and film director Frank Smith died. He was 64 years old.
Born in Gladstone, Michigan, August 31, 1911, Smith’s earliest dreams were of working in films. Not having money, he hoboed his way to Hollywood when he was still in his teens by hitching rides illegally on freight trains. He finally reached Hollywood in 1930.
Hired on as an animator at the Fleischer Studios in the late 1930s, Smith worked on several feature films with that studio, including Gulliver’s Travels (1939) and various short films including Popeye cartoons and Betty Boop.
He then joined UPA studios, working alongside Robert Cannon, John Hubley and others. His films at UPA included the Oscar winning Gerald McBoing-Boing (1951).
For three years Smith directed and produced films in Paris, France, for Cineaste Productions, winning many awards.
His work in the 1960s included commercials and short films for Playhouse Pictures, followed by a long association with director/producer Bill Melendez, animating many of the Peanuts television specials including A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the feature films A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home.