Earlier this month, Pittsburgh native and renowned animator Lou Scheimer passed away. He was best known for creating Saturday morning cartoons such as Fat Albert, He-Man and The Archies throughout the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s.
According to Joe Wos, executive director of the Toonseum, Scheimer’s shows were more than fun, animated cartoons.
“He brought a certain morality to cartoons and showed that they could go beyond violent action and silliness. Fat Albert addressed a lot of issues of inner city youth like smoking and stealing,” says Wos.
Scheimer got his start at Carnegie Mellon University and began working with Larry Harmon, better known as Bozo the Clown, and began reanimating Popeye for TV. One of the most notable events in Scheimer's career was his alliance with DC comics to do the animation for the Superman TV series.
According to Wos, Scheimer's Filmation studios did not have much of a staff and consisted of mostly just himself and one other animator. The day before DC Comics showed up, Scheimer called everyone he knew to fill space and gave people fake artwork to make it look like they were actual artists.
“He kind of finagled his way into that deal,” says Wos.
Scheimer was also well known for taking old live action TV shows and breathing new life into them as cartoons. Not only would he make them relevant again, but he would make them memorable by using the original actors from the live action series as the voices of the animated characters.
An exhibit of Lou Scheimer’s artwork and cartoons can be found year round at the Toonseum in downtown Pittsburgh.