PASSINGS: Tissa David


Tissa David

Master animator broke ground for women

Tissa David, 91, a New York-based master animator who broke ground for women in a field long dominated by men, died Tuesday of a brain tumor, according to the Animation Guild.


In 1977, she became one of the first women to animate a lead character in a feature film when she drew the Raggedy Ann doll in “Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure.” David also was one of the first women to direct an animated feature, the 1953 French film “Bonjour Paris.”

During a more than 60-year career, David was known for her animation of children, notably the young girls in the Hubley Studio’s award-winning 1974 short film “Cockaboody.” Her characters, drawn with sensual lines and economy of motion, were featured in many commercials, television specials and movies.

For Raggedy Ann, David eschewed the pretty heroines of Disney and animated the doll as “a plain Jane with a heart of candy — and she’s all female,” the New York Times said in 1977.

“If the work is good, then perhaps I will prove a point,” David said in the New York Times article. “To create a female character in an animated film, you must think like a woman and ‘feel’ like a woman. In other words, you must be a woman.”

Born in 1921 in Hungary, David attended art school in Budapest. In 1950, she moved to Paris. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1955, she collaborated with such noted animators as Grim Natwick, John and Faith Hubley, and R.O. Blechman.

Her skills were showcased in two other well-received 1977 television programs, “A Doonesbury Special” and the movie “Simple Gifts.” More recently, David worked for Michael Sporn Animation on such projects as the 1991 TV movie “Ira Sleeps Over” and “Poe,” a feature film about Edgar Allan Poe set to be released in 2013.

Times staff reports