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Westchester's Doug Crane, Master Animator, Cartoonist, Dies At 85

Doug Crane in his home studio in the 1980s Photo Credit: Contributed
Doug Crane in 2016 Photo Credit: Contributed
The Cranes in June 1956 (above) and June 2020. Photo Credit: Contributed

Doug Crane, an animator for Terrytoons, Hanna-Barbera, MTV, Filmation, Oriolo Films, Zander Animation Parlour, as well as former Professor of Animation at SVA, died on Thursday, Dec. 17 after a short battle with cancer.

Born in Bronxville, Crane’s love for drawing cartoons and animation began early on. After attending Eastchester High School and graduating from the Cartoonist and Illustrators School (now called The School of Visual Arts in New York City) Crane began working for Terrytoons in 1956. 

His first day at Terrytoons would change his life. Not only did he begin a career that would span 65 years, but he met his beloved sweetheart Maureen Hurley whom he would marry and go on to start their family of eight children.

Crane took a break from the New York animation industry briefly when he went into the Army in 1958.

While serving in the Army he married Maureen and started their family. He also illustrated recruitment pamphlets, created and painted floats for the base parades, painted signage for the White Sands Proving Grounds, and created a comic strip called Tiptoe and Timber that ran in military newspapers.

Once released from the Army he and his wife and their new baby returned to New Rochelle to continue working at Terrytoons. 

Crane’s animation career had him working with some of the industry greats such as Burne Hogarth, Preston Blair, Art Babbitt, Jimmy (Shamus) Culhane, Bill Hanna, Joe Oriolo, Bill Tytla, John Hubley, Grim Natwick, Jack Zander, Al Capp, Bob Blechman, Gene Deitch, Ernie Pintoff, Richard Williams, and a host of others. 

It had also taken him to places such as California, Canada, and Germany.

At the request of Bill Hanna, Crane and Red Auguston opened and operated the Hanna-Barbera East studio in New York City. Crane went on in his career to animate films, television series, commercials, theatrical releases, and half-hour specials; draw comic strips, comic books, and digests. 

Crane received a Clio Award, the National Television Commercials Award, for his animation of The Wall Street Journal commercial. 

His storyboard work, character creation, design, background design, and finished layouts are a few more talents he possessed but some of his favorite work was when he animated the bobbing, rolling, and twisting ship scene in the Raggedy Ann & Andy movie. 

Crane also designed and taught a comprehensive course in Cartooning and Animation techniques at his alma mater, Eastchester High School, and was a Professor of Classical Animation at his other alma mater, The School of Visual Arts in New York City, for 15 years. 

Crane was also invited to teach at the Institute of Animation and Film at the Academy of Art and Design, Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

Besides maintaining a full schedule of lectures and demonstrations on the art of animation at schools, libraries, fraternal organizations,  and business luncheons. 

Crane also spent time as the Artist In Residence at the prestigious Thornton-Donovan school in New Rochelle. 

He also served the Westchester County residents as an Auxiliary Police officer, a Grand Knight at the New Rochelle Knights of Columbus, and as the Municipal Arts Commissioner where he planned and carried out the weekend-long 40th-anniversary celebration for Terrytoons in February 1982. 

Doug is survived by his children Maureen, Erin (her husband Mark and their daughters Megan, Katie, Kerry and their families), Thomas (his wife Debbie their children Sean, Brianna, and their families),

Colleen (her husband Art, their children AJ, Aidan, Tiernan, Riley), and Caitlin (her husband Shawn),

Kevin (his wife Erin, their children Abigail, Nathaniel) and Rose-Ellen (her husband Andrew, their daughters Sam, Shannon, Jordan, Hayley). 

Crane was predeceased by two days, by his beloved wife of 61 years, Maureen, and by his son Douglas Jr. in 2018.

A private service is being held in Stuart, Florida for immediate family members, with another being planned in New Rochelle for this spring/summer depending on the state's rules on mass gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Condolence messages can be sent through email at DorableDad78@gmail.com and will be shared with his family.

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