Pixar Story Visionary Joe Ranft Dies - Aug 17, 2005

Pixar Story Visionary Joe Ranft Dies
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by Rhett Wickham (archives)
August 17, 2005
Rhett Wickham remembers Pixar's Joe Ranft who tragically passed away in an automobile accident.

Pixar Story Visionary Joe Ranft Dies
by Rhett Wickham
August 17, 2005

JOE RANFT, the un-disputed story genius of his generation, has died tragically in an automobile accident near Mendocino, California. He was 45 years old. Joe is survived by his wife and two children, and an extended family of admiring and devoted colleagues at Pixar and Walt Disney Feature Animation where he started his career.

Not since the late Bill Peet has any one story artist made such consistent, significant contributions to animated film, and his presence leaves an immeasurable void in the industry, particularly at Pixar, where he enjoyed the undying respect, admiration and love of his peers.

Ranft was part of the creative brain trust of Pixar Animation, and is frequently credited with playing a critical role in shaping the stories and characters that defined films from Toy Story through to the upcoming Cars. He and his fellow writers were nominated in 1995 for an Academy Award® for the screenplay for Toy Story. His industry peers honored him in 2000 with the Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production for Toy Story 2, an award he shared with his colleague Dan Jeup.

At Walt Disney Feature Animation, Ranft was a key member of the story teams on Beauty & the Beast, The Rescuers Down Under, and The Lion King. He also was a key story contributor to the independent animated feature The Brave Little Toaster.

His boundless imagination and talent extended to voice work, performing the roles of Wheezy the Penguin in Toy Story 2 and Heimlich the caterpillar in A Bug’s Life. Joe’s infectious smile, powerful presence, and gentile nature were practically the personified in the character of Heimlich, a voice role he won when it became evident that nobody could match the depth and humor he had provided the character in preliminary recordings, or “scratch tracks.�?

Joe Ranft leaves behind a breathtaking body of work that will enchant, delight, excite, and move audiences for generations to come. His wildly imaginative vision, enchanted presence and story telling brilliance will be sorely missed.

Plans are underway for a memorial and details will be announced at a later date.

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-- Rhett Wickham
-- Posted August 17, 2005