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Friday, December 16, 2005

McELMURRY, Charles

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Birth: 1921 in Iowa
Death: December 5, 2005 in Santa Rosa, CA


Character Designer/Layout Artist/Illustrator

Bio Summary

Charles simply had a love for drawing, even as a child, always drawing from comic books. In 1940, after graduating from high school, he became an intern at Disney and was then drafted in the Marines. He was joined by his friend Wayne and artist, Richard Diebenkorn, his biggest inspiration. From his station in Virginia, he did portraits of wounded soldiers (as a means of cheering them up) and worked in the film unit. After the war, he moved to Conneticut and worked as an Illustrator in New York. Later, he moved to Los Angeles where he attended the Chouinard Art Institute and met another figure who made an influence in his art, teacher Rico LeBrun. 

The crux of his career came during the 50s and 60s, starting with becoming a layout artist/designer at John Hubley's Storyboard Production, moving on to John Sutherland Productions when John Hubley relocated, and then Quartet Films. He also did work for many ad agencies, doing character designs for companies such as Budweiser and Marlboro. He did a lot of freelance work before retiring to Eagle Rock and later moved to Santa Rosa.

Early Life/Family

Born in Iowa but did most of his growing up in Venice Beach, CA with his father, Chick, his mother, Leona, and his sister, Maxine. He lived in the east coast for a time then moved back to Los Angeles where his met his first wife, Norma Fae and had two twin daughters by her, Jill and Jennifer. Later divorced and married again to Rosemary O'Connor.


Chouinard School of Art and Jepson Art Institute

Career Outline

Designer at Walt Disney Studios
Freelance Illustrator
Layout Artist and Designer at Storyboard Productions
Designer at John Sutherland Productions
Designer at Quartet Films
Designer at Pelican
Designer at Filmfair
Designer at Jay Ward Productions
Designer at Bill Melendez Productions
Illustrator at various ad agencies (particularly for Marlboro, Budweiser, and Bank of America as character designer)

Comments On Style


Richard Diebenkorn
Rico LeBrun


According to daughter, Jill, he set high standards for himself in everything he did and had a "zest for life".


Had a neighbor who once offered Charles a taste of homemade jelly by taking his spoon and cleaned it beforehand by wiping it under her sweaty armpit.

His mother once tied him to the front porch and put a sign around his neck that said "I ran away" when he did so as a child

Once made a weedwhacker suit and hat out of paper grocery bags



Philip Morris spot ad (1955) Designer
"Your Safety First" (1956) Layout Artist
"1001 Arabian Nights" (1959) Character Designer
Quartet ad for Budweiser (1960) Designer
"A Boy Named Charlie Brown" (1969) Graphic Designer
Tony the Tiger Commercial "Cousin" (1973) Storyboard Artist


Golden Award Honoree 2005

Related Links

Charlie McElmurry: "Year of the Tiger"
Daughter, Jill McElmurry's Obit Pt. 1
Daughter, Jill McElmurry's Obit Pt. 2
Daughter, Jill McElmurry's Obit Pt. 3

Bibliographic References

Charles McElmurry's IMDB entry: 


Animation World Network:

Cartoon Brew December 2005 Archives:


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