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Ann Sullivan, Animator of Disney Hits, Dies at 91

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This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Ann Sullivan, who applied her refined brush and palette as an animator to latter-day Disney classics like “The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King” and “Lilo & Stitch,” died on April 13 at the Motion Picture and Television Fund retirement home in Woodland Hills, Calif. She was 91.

Her daughter Shannon Jay said the cause was Covid-19.

Ms. Sullivan was the third of four people at the home who have died from the coronavirus, according to a fund representative. More than 7,000 people have died of the disease in care facilities around the United States.

Ms. Sullivan began bringing cartoons to life at Walt Disney’s animation studios in the 1950s, working on films like “Peter Pan” (1953) before giving up her job to care for her children.

She returned to animation in 1973, first working for Hanna-Barbera and later rejoined Disney. She worked on Disney films like “Oliver & Company” (1988), “Pocahontas” (1995) and “Hercules” (1997) as well as films released by other studios, like “Cool World” (1992) and “The Pagemaster”(1994).

Sara Ann McNeese was born on April 10, 1929, in Fargo, N.D., to Thomas and Helen (Kossick) McNeese. Her father was an accountant, and her mother was a stenographer. Ann graduated from Catholic school and attended North Dakota State University before moving to California, where she studied at what is now the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena.

She started working for Disney soon after graduation, at first in the studio’s vast paint lab.

She married Kevin Sullivan in the early 1950s. Their marriage ended in divorce in the 1970s.

In addition to her daughter Shannon, she is survived by another daughter, Liz McCrary; two sons, Joe and Tom; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Ms. Sullivan, an avid painter, taught art to neighborhood children near the family’s home in La Mirada, in Los Angeles County, her daughter Shannon recalled.

Among the subjects Ms. Sullivan tackled were landscapes of the California coastline, portraits of family members and Jimi Hendrix, and a semiabstract rendition of the Disney characters Goofy and Daisy Duck, which hung in her bedroom.

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.


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