Vincent Cafarelli, a mainstay in the New York animation industry for more than six decades, died of natural causes in Brooklyn on Dec. 1. He was 81.
Cafarelli began in the industry in 1948 while still a teenager, working as an assistant animator at Paramount’s Famous Studios on properties involving classic characters such as Popeye, Little Audrey and Baby Huey.
He eventually came to work as an animator-director at nearly all of the major studios in Manhattan including UPA, Gifford Animation, Stars and Stripes Prods. (where he directed and animated over 300 spot commercials) and Perpetual Motion Pictures.
In the early 1960s Cafarelli worked with Pablo Ferro on film graphics for Stanley Kubrick in London, where they created titles for the 1964 Basil Dearden-directed feature “Woman of Straw,” starring Sean Connery, among other projects.
Back in New York at Animation Central and later at Kim & Gifford Studio, he animated the radio comedians Bob and Ray in a series of commercials for Piel’s beer commercials and actress Margaret Hamilton for Tip Top Bread.
In 1981, Cafarelli and Candy Kugel became the creative team at Buzzco Prods., from which they and Marilyn Kraemer formed Buzzco Associates in 1985, with Cafarelli as president/co-creative director.
Cafarelli directed hundreds of spots for major ad campaigns and television specials throughout his career, including some featuring famed characters such as the Berenstain Bears and Strawberry Shortcake.
Their production of commercials aside, Cafarelli and Kugel produced, animated and director a number of independent shorts that won critical acclaim as well as awards at film festivals including Annecy, Stuttgart, Rome, Rio and London. “KnitWits” premiered on opening night of the 1997 New York Film Festival with Ang Lee’s “The Ice Storm.” Several of their shorts are in the film collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
Vincent Joseph Cafarelli was born in 1930 in Brooklyn and served two years in the Army from 1951-53, working in Fort Benning’s graphics department.
He is survived by his wife, Francisca; a daughter; and five grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Jan. 6, with details to be announced later. Donations may be made to the Brooklyn Museum. Correspondence may be sent to (and further information received from) Candy Kugel, Buzzco Associates, 33 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012 or at 212-473-8800 or 917-309-5449.