Veteran animation artist Ann Sullivan, a 91-year-old resident at the Motion Picture Television Fund’s skilled nursing facility in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills, died Monday of complications from COVID-19.
Sullivan’s death was the third at the facility since the pandemic broke out. John Breier, 64, a longtime member of IATSE Local 174, and actor Allen Garfield died last week.
The MPTF reported the first case on March 31. About 250 entertainment industry retirees live on the MPTF’s Wasserman Campus in Woodland Hills, Calif. Thirteen other residents have tested positive for the virus, with 10 currently being treated in isolation units and three at West Hills Hospital. Eight caretakers have also tested positive.
Sullivan was a native of Fargo, N.D., who followed her sister Helen to California, and after studying at the Art Center in Pasadena, landed a job at Walt Disney in the animation paint lab in the early 1950s. After a work hiatus to start a family of four children, she returned to the industry in 1973 at Filmation Hanna Barbera, then rejoined the animation department in time to paint and ink “The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King” and “Lilo and Stitch.” She made the switch to computerized animated production at Disney until her retirement in the early 2000s.
“We called her ‘Giggles’ at MPTF. You couldn’t help but fall in love with her laugh,” said Chaplain Dina Kuperstock. “She had the best laugh of any person I’ve ever known. Ann didn’t just laugh with a sound. When she giggled, her whole body would shake and light up with joy, and it was contagious for everyone in the room.”
Her daughter Shannon described her as a “beach” mom who took her children, grandchildren and friends to the beach at every opportunity. Her daughter said her mother loved Nancy’s Garden, a bird sanctuary at the MPTF set up a few years ago in honor of long-time advocate Nancy Biederman.
She is survived by four children, eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren.