By James H. Burns: A bad few months for the fathers of television animation… Arthur Rankin Jr. has died at the age of 89.
Rankin, and his partner, Jules Bass. may have been the most successful stop motion animation producers, with their wide range of specials and feature films, including a particular favorite of my childhood, Mad Monster Party (with a script co-written by Harvey Kurtzman, and Jack Davis designs!) (If the scripts for some of their efforts weren’t always necessarily wonderful, the shows at least always maintained a sense of wonder.)
Rankin/Bass also produced a number of traditional CEL-animated programs, including the 1960s Tales of the Wizard of Oz and King Kong series, and the 1980s’ Thundercats.
The duo was responsible for a plethora of early sf and fantasy on celluloid, including such live action fare as King Kong Escapes (which Rankin directed), The Last Dinosaur and The Bermuda Depths.
Other famous animation credits include TV’s The Hobbit and Return of the King, The Ballad of Smokey the Bear and The Last Unicorn.
Update 02/01/2014: Changed from Saul to Jules per comment.