Leo Sullivan Obituary, Death Cause – According to his wife Ethelyn, Sullivan passed away on March 25 in Los Angeles due to heart failure. This information was provided to The Hollywood Reporter. Although Sullivan was born in Lockhart, Texas, his family eventually settled in Los Angeles. in 1952. Because his father served in the military, the family relocated quite a bit throughout his childhood. In the early 1960s, he started his career by doing errands for Bob Clampett’s Snowball Productions. Shortly after that, he was hired on as a cel washer for the producer’s Beany and Cecil series.
Sullivan once stated that he had an early liking for animation when he was a boy, despite the fact that the workings of animation escaped him for some time: I used to think that when I went to the cinema and saw all of these cartoons, it was actually just little people dressed up in costumes acting out the scenes. After that, when I was still in high school, I began doing some research, and I thought to myself, “Hey, this is wonderful.”
It was Clampett’s promotion of Sullivan to the role as an inbetweener on the Beany and Cecil series that served as the launchpad for Sullivan’s successful career as an industry artist. Through the course of his career, Sullivan was employed by a number of the industry’s most prestigious production companies, including as Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, DiC Entertainment, and Marvel Productions. He worked as an animator, layout artist, and sheet timer on a wide variety of animated shows, including The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Mighty Mouse, Fat Albert, Super Friends, The Transformers, My Little Pony, Tiny Toon Adventures, and Animaniacs, among many others.
Sullivan was involved in the business on both the production and the managerial sides as well. Of particular note is the fact that in 1966 he was one of the co-founders of Vignette Films along with Floyd Norman, Richard Allen, and Norm Edelen. Vignette was the first animation production business to be owned by people of African descent. The firm’s films were educational and focused on African American historical figures such as Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver.
In addition, throughout the 1960s, they contributed their talents to a number of Hollywood television productions, including the primetime television special Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert (1969), the opening of the Soul Train series, and the writing of sketches for sketch comedy series such as Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and Turn On.
In his autobiography, Animated Life, Norman said that it was Leo Sullivan’s belief in the team that allowed them to go to the next level. “It was also during this period that I became aware of the fact that my business partner Leo was an extremely skilled film producer. In point of fact, it is not an exaggeration to state that he is better than the majority. It was quite unlikely that a black guy would ever be awarded such a job in a major studio during this time period.