Oscar-Nominated Pixar Animator Bud Luckey Dies

Animator Bud Luckey, best known for his design of Woody from the Toy Story franchise, has sadly passed away at 83-years old.

Bud’s son, Andy Luckey, announced his father’s death through a Facebook post over the weekend. Bud Luckey died at a hospice in Connecticut after a battle with extended illness on Saturday the 24th of February.

Andy wrote, “He loved his work but got even greater satisfaction from seeing others enjoy it.”

“He’ll be deeply missed by his friends, family and colleagues to whom he was just “Bud.” His kind and easy going demeanor led his PIXAR colleagues to dub him ‘Bud Low-Key.'”

The Facebook post added that ‘He served in U.S. Air Force in the Korean War’ and that his family encourages donations to the Bud Luckey Scholarship Fund at The California Institute for the Arts, to help other talented animators in the future.

Bud Luckey was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003, for his animated short film “Boundin'” which he animated, wrote, directed and narrated, about a dancing sheep who loses his confidence after being sheared.

Woody’s design was the brainchild of animator Bud Luckey. Credit: NME

On top of designing Woody, a character that we all love, Bud also worked his animation designs on other Pixar films, such as A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Ratatouille, Cars and The Incredibles. After 2008, he retired his animating, but he continued his voice over talent, providing the voices to characters such as Chuckles the Clown in Toy Story 3, Rick Dicker in The Incredibles and even Eeyore in the 2011 Winnie the Pooh film.

John Lasseter, animation chief of Disney and Pixar, previously described Bud as “one of the true unsung heroes of animation”.

Bud joined Pixar in 1992, and was the fifth animator hired by the company. When designing Woody, the original idea for the character’s design was a ventriloquist’s dummy, rather than the cowboy we all know today.  However, Bud felt that a ventriloquist doll would look too creepy and so Woody the toy cowboy was born.

Bud said at the time, “People had kind of a spooky feeling about ventriloquists after The Twilight Zone”.

Ventriloquist dolls, as we all know, are pretty disturbing and we could never have imagined Woody as being one. Well… up until it was revealed that Woody was one in Toy Story 2, that is. Good call, Bud.

Before joining Pixar in 1992, Bud created and animated educational cartoons for Sesame Street, including The Ladybugs Picnic, amongst countless others. After that, he created his own animation studio called Luckey-Zamora Picture Moving Company, before merging it with Colossal Pictures in the late 1980’s.

Also paying tributes to the legendary animator was Toy Story 3 and Coco director, Lee Unkrich, who tweeted “A tweet is not sufficient to sing his praises”.

It’s sad for the world to lose such a talented person, who’s been apart of some of our favourite Pixar films, as well as being a huge part of the growth of Pixar since it’s formulation.

Bud Luckey will always be fondly remembered through his work, and we hope that it will inspire future generations to pursue a career in the animation industry.


<Story by Emily Clark>

Featured Photo Credit: El Sol del Centro

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