Animation producer David H. DePatie died on Sept. 23 of natural causes at the age of 91. DePatie is known for founding DePatie Freleng Enterprises with partner Friz Freleng, which is best known for the “Pink Panther” cartoon series.
DePatie was also the last executive in charge of the original Warner Bros. Cartoons cartoon studio, as well as an executive producer at Marvel Productions.
After Warner Bros. closed its animation studio in 1963, DePatie’s production company was formed at the former Warner cartoons studio on California Street in Burbank, Calif. Director Blake Edwards contacted DePatie Freleng Enterprises and asked them to design a panther character for “The Pink Panther” feature film, which eventually led to a contract with the company to produce animated titles for the film. The whimsical titles drew attention to the features, which had a successful run in the 1960s and ’70s and were later revived.
The production company soon agreed to contract with United Artists to produce a series of cartoon shorts featuring the Pink Panther, which would include over theatrical 100 shorts and TV episodes. The first animated short in the “Pink Panther” series, “The Pink Phink” was directed by Freleng and won the studio its only Academy Award in 1964. The company received another Academy Award nomination for “The Pink Blueprint.”
Other projects of the production company included producing animation for entries in the “Looney Tunes” and “Merrie Melodies” series from 1964 to 1967 as well as “Dr. Seuss” television specials from 1971 to 1982, bolstering the company’s reputation as one of the first suppliers for network television’s children’s programming era. After working on animated series such as “What’s New Mr. Magoo” and “Return to the Planet of the Apes,” DePatie Freleng co-produced “The New Fantastic Four” and “Spider-Woman” with Marvel Comics Animation.