You know, it's one thing to have to write a tribute about someone like a John Hench or a Frank Thomas. A man in his 90's who had died after being lionized by their peers ... Writing an article like that is really not all that tough.
Don't get me wrong. It's still sad and all. And you genuinely feel bad for that artist's friends and family. But -- at the same time -- there's still this sense of "Well, at least they lived a long, full life. And they knew that people truly appreciated them ..."
Copyright Pixar Animation Studios
Whereas trying to sum up the life of someone like Joe Ranft ... A man who was only 45 when he suddenly got snatched away from us ... That's just brutal.
I mean, here was a guy who was still operating at the top of his game. Who was rabidly pursued by virtually every major animation studio in the business. Not just because Joe was a top storyman. The type of guy who could wade into a truly troubled picture and quickly help to turn it around. But because Mr. Ranft was sweet & funny & kind & great to hang around with ...
It's been said that "Only the good die young." Well, that's one cliche that must be true. Because they really don't come much better than Joe Ranft.
I mean, when you look back over his body of work, it's hard to believe that Joe accomplished so much in such a short span of time. Over the past twenty years, if there was some sort of ground-breaking animated film in the works, chances are that Mr. Ranft played an active part in its creation.
Take a look at this partial list of Joe's credits:
"The Brave Little Toaster""Who Framed Roger Rabbit""Oliver & Company""The Rescuers Down Under""The Little Mermaid""Beauty & the Beast""The Nightmare Before Christmas""The Lion King""Toy Story""James and the Giant Peach""A Bug's Life""Toy Story 2""Fantasia 2000""Monsters, Inc.""Monkeybone""Finding Nemo""The Incredibles"
That's a truly impressive bunch of movies. And each of them was made better because Joe Ranft worked on them.
I know, I know. There was more to this man than just the films he worked on. Joe had a wife. He had two kids. Mr. Ranft had friends that stretched all the way back to the time he spent growing up in Whittier, CA., to his two years studying at Cal Arts, to the days he spent working at Hyperion, Disney, Skellington & Pixar.
That's why there are literally hundreds of people who are going to mourn Joe's loss. Who are going to miss Mr. Ranft not just because he could do funny voices (I.E. Heimlich in "A Bug's Life" & Wheezy in "Toy Story 2") or because Joe could do magic tricks. No, Joe Ranft was loved & will be missed because he was this big sweet bear of a guy. Who really lit up a room whenever he walked in.
By all rights, Joe should have been with us for decades yet to come. He was a man who still had a lot of great stories to tell. To lose someone like this over something as senseless as a car accident is just ... cruel. Difficult to understand right now.
I mean, how can someone who was so full of life, who still had so much left to do ... be gone?
The staff of JHM mourns the untimely passing of Joe Ranft & wishes to extend its heartfelt condolences to his friends & family during their time of sorrow.