Tucker’s family announced his death on Facebook, writing: “It is with a heavy and broken heart that the Tucker family announces the death of Tuck Tucker, father, husband, son, brother, and uncle. We know he was loved by all of those whom he met.” No cause of death was given.
Born William Osborne Tucker III on Aug. 20, 1961, Tucker’s passion for animation began at a young age through watching cartoons with his father. Tucker eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in animation, and got his first job as a breakdown artist on the 1987 film “Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night.” He also worked on “The Little Mermaid” in 1989, the television series “Rugrats” and over a dozen episodes of “The Simpsons” in 1996 as a character layout artist.
He was the storyboard director on 25 episodes of “Hey Arnold!” between 1996 and 1999, and went on to direct “Hey Arnold! The Movie” in 2002 as well as working as the supervising director on 19 episodes of the show between 1999 and 2004. Tucker was also well-known for his work on “SpongeBob SquarePants,” including as a storyboard artist for “SpongeBob SquarePants The Movie” in 2004 and as the supervising storyboard director for 47 episodes of the hit series from 2007 to 2014. Tucker also wrote six episodes of the series.
Tucker’s most recent project was as a storyboard revisionist for the upcoming “Bob’s Burgers” film, which is currently in production. Beyond his work in the film and television industry, Tucker began teaching graphic and animation design in 2015 at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.
“Hey Arnold!” creator Craig Bartlett paid tribute to Tucker on Instagram, writing: “A great friend, a master draftsman, a tireless practical joker, a brilliant storyteller, the first one I reached out to when I began ‘Hey Arnold!’ because he was the best board guy I had ever met. I’ll always remember him at his drawing board, arms blackened to the elbows with graphite, eraser shavings everywhere, bringing my characters to life. A killer work ethic, passionately into it. I’m so lucky I got to work with him for so many years.”