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Tom and Jerry director Gene Deitch dies aged 95

Tom and Jerry director Gene Deitch has passed away at the age of 95. The Oscar-winning illustrator died on Thursday night at his apartment in Prague, it has been reported. His Czech publisher, Petr Himmel, confirmed the news to The Associated Press where he explained that star died ‘unexpectedly’ during the night and no further details were given.

Born Aug. 8, 1924, in Chicago, Deitch arrived in Prague in 1959 intending to stay for 10 days, but fell in love with his future wife, Zdenka, and stayed in the Czechoslovakian capital.

Gene, whose full name was Eugene Merrill Deitch was best known for creating animated cartoons such as Munro, Tom Terrific, Nudnik, as well as Popeye.

Deitch’s movie “Munro” won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1960. He was also nominated for the same award twice in 1964 for “Here’s Nudnik” and “How to Avoid Friendship.”

Earlier, he had created the “Tom Terrific” series, while the “Sidney’s Family Tree,” which he co-produced was nominated for an Academy Award in 1958. Working from behind the Iron Curtain, he directed 13 episodes of “Tom and Jerry” and also some of the “Popeye the Sailor” series.

He captured life in communist Czechoslovakia and later in the Czech Republic after the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution in his memoirs “For the Love of Prague.”

In 2004, he received the Winsor McCay Award for his lifelong contribution to animation.

Deitch is survived by his wife and by three sons from his first marriage, all of whom are cartoonists and illustrators.

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