A veteran television producer who was behind a number of animated hits has died. The Los Angeles Times reports that Filmation founder Lou Scheimer, who led the animation studio that produced Saturday morning staples such as "He-Man" and "Fat Albert," died Thursday, Oct. 17, at 84 from Parkinson’s disease.
"Scheimer’s company, which in the early 1980s was the largest animation operation in the country based on its number of employees, was lauded for being one of the last holdouts against shipping work overseas," the Times notes. "But Filmation television cartoons were roundly criticized by movie buffs for lacking the artistry and full motion of theatrical cartoons of a bygone era."
Scheimer told the Times in 1981 that the demands of network schedules meant that it was "practically impossible to take all care and love we would like to on the technical aspects." He added: "We’d love to do theatrical shorts, and if you can find somebody to pay for them, let us know."
With a $5,000 loan from his mother-in-law, Scheimer founded Filmation Associates in 1962.
In an early bid for business, Filmation asked to do a series on Superman, but DC Comics asked to visit the studio to see whether it could handle the job. At that time Filmation had only a small staff.
"I called everybody I knew, and we filled the place up with people doing fake drawings," Scheimer said in a documentary about the cartoon series.
That led to Filmation’s first hit, "The New Adventures of Superman," the story notes.
Scheimer won a daytime Emmy for producing the 1974-75 "Star Trek" animated series. His company worked on shows such as "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids," "The Archie Show" and "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe," but he also had some misses, including the 1975 "Uncle Croc’s Block," which featured Charles Nelson Reilly dressed as a crocodile in some live sequences, the story says.
The company was sold in 1969 to Teleprompter, which itself was bought in 1981 by Westinghouse.
The Times adds: "Scheimer remained as head of Filmation but he was pressed to cut costs, and in 1987 he angered workers and their union with the announcement that some work would be shipped overseas. In 1989 Filmation was bought by a French investor group that closed the Woodland Hills plant, firing almost all the employees."