Birth/Death: Grant Simmons was born on Nov. 11, 1912, in Arizona, and died in Los Angeles, Ca on Oct. 31, 1970
Occupation/Title: Animator, Director, and Writer
Bio Summary: Grant Simmons was born on Nov. 11, 1912 in Arizona. He was not only an Animator, Simmons also Directed and Wrote. Simmons worked with a few production companies and even co-founded his own studio with fellow animator, Ray Patterson. Simmons’ list of big name companies he has animated for included Walt Disney Studios (where he worked on *Dumbo *and*Fantasia *), Columbia, MGM, and eventually co-founded his own company Grantray-Lawrence in 1954. He worked on “The Marvel Super Heroes” and “Spiderman” series in the 60s and 70s until his untimely death on Oct. 31, 1970.
Career Outline: Much of Grant Simmons’ early career remains unknown but I’ve been able to piece together a few tidbits. Simmons’ earliest work was an uncredited Walt Disney Studios short that was released in 1940, *Put Put Troubles*, which featured Donald Duck. He also worked on *Dumbo *before the famous strike. A year later in 1941, Simmons left Disney after the strike and began working for Columbia at Screen Gems productions.
Grant Simmons stayed at Screen Gems for about five years. He contributed to many of their releases including the rare classic, *Flora* (1948), where he worked on a few scenes, especially “Ronnie”. These characters showcase his style and influence. Simmons eventually switched to MGM studios in 1948 where he was reunited with Ray Patterson whom he worked with at Walt Disney Studios.
At MGM, Simmons was assigned to the Hanna-Barbera unit with Patterson. Both became part of Tex Avery’s unit (Ray Patterson), which included Michael Lah and Walt Clinton. His first work at MGM was *Lucky Ducky *(1948). Simmons worked on many of the Droopy cartoons and also on Mr. Magoo.
In 1954, Simmons and Patterson left MGM and co-founded their own production company, Grantray-Lawrence Animation (Grant and Ray, their first names). Their Animation company did independent work for Walter Lantz (Lantz), animating shorts like *Dig That Dog *(1954). Lantz gave the two the go-ahead to write and direct several releases for him.
GrantRay did a few commercial work as well and eventually moved on to television series. Their most famous ones being “The Marvel Super Heroes” and “Spiderman” in 1970. The “Marvel” series was produced using xerography, consisting of photocopies images used directly in the animation, and the only moving parts were the lips or sometimes the limbs. Many criticized it as bad animation, but it series did keep the original stories intact and close to the original comic release, and also showcased the Silver Age of Comics classic art. The company unfortunately went bankrupt in 1967. The studio only did one season of “Spiderman” before Simmons passed away on Oct. 31, 1970.
Comments On Style: There are a few subtle telltales that show Simmons’ style. During his MGM days, Simmons’ work on *Dig That Dog* shows his signature style, Spike’s toothy grin and lots of elasticity (Kazaleh). His run at Screen Gems also showcased his signatures. Simmons had a slick style and was very good at timing and pacing. In *Flora* (1948), the main character ‘Ronny’ was mostly animated by Simmons (Langley). The Martini scene is particularly good, the narration and the animation compliment each other and really shows off Simmons’ style.
Influences: After viewing some of his work. Simmons’ animation style seems to be a bit similar to Ray Patterson. They are not copies of each other, but both of these animators seem to be very good at timing and fluidity in their characters. Both of these animators worked on the Clown Fire Scene on *Dumbo* and it is difficult to tell who animated what part.
Filmography: Grant Simmons’ most famous works includes *Fantasia* (1940), *
He is known for his work in *Dig that Dog* from Screen Gem.*
At MGM, he animated much of the Droopy shorts.
He also worked on the feature length *Gay Purr-ee (*1962*) *as an animator.
As a Director, we was credited in a few shorts including *Hop and Chop *and *The Foul Kin *(both 1970).**
Honors: Although Simmons did not personally win any awards, some of his work did. Walt Disney’s Dumbo was a huge success and received the Best Animation Design category at the Cannes Films Festival in 1947. **
Langley, Kevin. “Grant Simmons”.
*Cartoons, Model Sheets, & Stuff*. 28 Sept 2009. Web. 12 Oct 2011.
Lantz. *The Walter Lantz Cartune Encyclopedia: 1954. *15 Oct 2011.
“Ray Patterson.” *Wikipedia*. 2011. Wikipedia Foundation Inc. 15 Oct 2011.
Kazaleh, Mike. “Grant Simmons Dogs”. *Identifying Animators and Their Scenes *. 12 Aug 2006. Web. 15 Oct 2011.
Contributors To This Listing:
Animators Hall of Fame