Lou Scheimer, Filmation Founder, Dies at 84

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Co-created 'Fat Albert' with Bill Cosby

Emmy-winning animation giant Lou Scheimer, founder of Filmation Studios, which produced toon series including “Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids,” “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” and even the animated version of “Star Trek,” died Thursday. He was 84. The cause of death was not revealed, but Scheimer had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and had had quadruple bypass heart surgery.

Scheimer’s company was the largest animation operation in the country in the early 1980s by number of employees, according to the Associated Press.

He founded animation producer Filmation with Norm Prescott and Hal Sutherland in 1963; its first big hit was “The New Adventures of Superman.” Filmation series included “The Archie Show,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “Bravestarr.” Scheimer occasionally did voice work for the company’s series.

With Bill Cosby he created “Fat Albert,” ground-breaking as the one of the first animated series centering on African American characters.

Scheimer won a Daytime Emmy in 1975 for the animated “Star Trek” series and a Primetime Emmy in 1977 for “A Fat Albert Christmas” special. As recently as April of last year, Scheimer was acting as a consultant to Gang of Seven (G7) Animation.

In 1969, Filmation was sold to a cable operator that was bought by Westinghouse. Scheimer continued to head Filmation but was told to cut costs and in 1987 announced that some work would be shipped overseas.

In 1989, Filmation was bought by a French investor group that closed the company’s Woodland Hills plant and fired most employees.

DreamWorks purchased the Filmation library last year.

Born in Pittsburgh, Scheimer graduated with an art degree from the Carnegie Institute of Technology.

He is survived by his wife, his daughter, Erika and his son, Lane.

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  1. Becky miller says:

    Rest in peace Mr. Scheimer. I worked for him when I was just out of high school in 1978-1979 at Filmation. What a great place to work and he was truly a wonderful man to work for.

  2. ifeelgood says:

    Goodbye Mr Scheimer! May you rest in peace. Thanks for all those great saturday mornings!
    I’d give anything to be sitting in front of the tv again, watching “The Harlem Globetrotters”

  3. yahnatan levi says:

    Rest in peace mr.scheimer thank you for making my childhood memorable and everlasting.

  4. Thank you for the great Saturday morning entertainment. We will always remember you and your characters. Rest in peace. Please feel free to leave your condolences: http://www.eternal-contact.com/lou-scheimer/

  5. Mark McCray says:

    I interviewed Norm Prescott (who co-founded Filmation with Lou Scheimer) back in 1993 and he told me that Fat Albert was the first “all black” Saturday morning show. The distinction being that the Harlem Globetrotters were the only featured African-American characters on their show, while the entire Fat Albert cast, including the secondary and minor characters were all African-American. In later seasons, the Fat Albert cast would become more integrated. Lou Scheimer was a wonderful person and will be greatly missed.

  6. Steven Hoskin says:

    Even more so, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids was not the first Saturday morning show with a cast of African-American characters (Hanna-Barbera’s The Harlem Globetrotters was when it debuted in 1970), but the first African-American character in a Saturday morning series to be featured was that of Pete Jones in The Hardy Boys which debuted in 1969. But all in all, Filmation would not have been the company it was had it not been for the vision of Lou Scheimer, Norm Prescott (who passed on in 2005) and Hal Sutherland. RIP, Mr. Scheimer and thanks for a lifetime of wonderful childhood memories.

    • Akil says:

      And the Hardy Boys was another Filmation creation. Just another testament to Mr. Scheimer’s desire to integrate Saturday morning television. I highly suggest reading his autobiography, “Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation.” He was a born storyteller and will be greatly missed.

  7. Mel Timons says:

    This obit should be updated, as it’s really not fair to Lou Scheimer’s life. His contribution to American animation was massive. It was Scheimer who kept the animation for Masters of the Universe here in the US, and saved many talented people their jobs. Not to mention how instrumental he was in the creation of the television series.

    Scheimer was also extremely involved in making sure Masters always had a positive message in every episode. He inspired goodness and compassion that young adults still keep in their hearts after having watched his programming.

    We should all hope to inspire as many as Lou did.

    Rest in Peace, you awesome guy.

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