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Fred Crippen

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Fred Crippen’s roots are deep in the Lansing area. Born in Lansing and a graduate of Lansing Eastern High School, he enrolled at MSU following service in the Marine Corps and graduated in 1952. Crippen got into the publishing business early, doing illustrations for high school yearbooks and becoming cartoon editor for MSU’s Spartan Magazine.

The State News was in the Union just down the hall from the magazine’s office, and Crippen became acquainted with the News staff. They hung out in the Union Grill and at Coral Gables Show Bar, and soon Crippen was doing editorial cartoons for the State News.

After leaving MSU, Crippen did cartoon design and illustration for the Jam Handy Organization in Detroit, animation for the Shamus Culhane Studio in New York, and design, animation and director work for UPA-New York. UPA later moved Crippen to Hollywood, where he directed various Oscarnominated films, directed and designed “Gerald McBoingBoing” specials, did story work for “Mr. Magoo” and became a member of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 1958, he left UPA to form his own company, Pantomime Pictures. There, his work won an Oscar for “Why Man Creates.” He created and produced several television series, including “Roger Ramjet,” “Skyhawks,” “Hot Wheels” and hundreds of films for Children’s Television Network, the creators of “Sesame Street” and “The Electric Company.”

Crippen has worked with many celebrities, including Jerry Lewis, Ernie Kovacs and Fred Willard. In addition to his Oscar he has also won many other honors, most recently the animation industry’s coveted Annie award for distinguished lifetime contributions to the art of animation. He has also taught animation at various California colleges.

Currently, Crippen is directing a 26-episode series for PBS called “Betsy’s Kindergarten Adventures,” and is designing, animating and directing Ernest Hemingway’s short story “The Fable of the Good Lion.”