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Legendary animator Chuck Jones dies

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Feb 24, 2002 | 9:01am EST

The cartoon world seems a little less funny now.

The legendary and Oscar-winning animation director Chuck Jones, who helped bring to life such cartoon icons as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the Grinch, died Friday of congestive heart failure in his home in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 89.

Terry Thoren, a longtime friend who heads the animation studio that produces the Rug Rats cartoons, told the Associated Press that animators considered Jones "the father of contemporary animation."

"He was the true leader of our industry after Walt Disney passed away," Thoren said. "The fact that he is gone creates a big void in our industry."

Jones worked on more than 300 animated films over a 60-year career span and won three Academy Awards. He won two in 1949, one for his animated short For Scent-imental Reasons and the other for the documentary short So Much for So Little He also won in 1965 for his animated short The Dot and the Line. Jones also received an honorary Oscar in 1995 for lifetime achievement.

Yet, the cartoon giant was best known for his work under the Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes umbrella in the '30s and '40s, the time known as the Golden Age of animation. Besides Bugs and Daffy, Jones helped create such lovable cartoon characters as, Porky Pig and Elmer Fudd. His own original creations included Pepe Le Pew, Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner.

He also produced, directed and wrote the screenplays for the '60s TV classic Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and the feature film The Phantom Tollbooth.

One of Jones' most popular films, What's Opera, Doc? was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1992 for being "among the most culturally, historically and aesthetically significant films of our time."

"He saw things differently than most people ... the ridiculousness and the joy of life. He could see the funny side of everything," said grandson Craig Kausen, who works in the family business selling Jones' artwork.

Jones is survived by his wife of 20 years, Marion; daughters Linda Jones and Rosalin Bellante; son Peter Dern; brother Richard Kent; six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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