Jerry Beck (born February 9, 1955) is a well known animation historian, with ten books and numerous articles to his credit. He is also an animation producer, an industry consultant, and has been an executive with Nickelodeon and Disney.
After high school, Beck studied at The School of Visual Arts
in New York City
intent on becoming a great animator. But his interest in animation's history led him to working with Leonard Maltin
, becoming his 'research associate' on the landmark book, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons
. In the course of doing this work, Beck became well versed in the histories and films of every Hollywood cartoon studio.
Beck began his career in the film industry at United Artists
, working with the MGM/UA
film library as a salesman in the non-theatrical division.
In 1981, Beck teamed with colleague Will Friedwald to produce the filmography The Warner Bros. Cartoons. In 1984 Beck joined Orion Classics, becoming an expert at theatrical distribution.
His interest in animation and knowledge of film distribution brought him to the attention of Terry Thoren's Expanded Entertainment company in 1986
. With Beck's expertise, Expanded began distributing the International Tournee of Animation
, The Festival of Claymation
and The Puppetoon Movie
to theatres across the U.S.
At Expanded, Beck helped organize two animation festivals (Los Angeles Animation Celebration in 1987 and 1989) and was instrumental in the creation of Animation Magazine. In addition to his writing for Animation Magazine, Beck has contributed to Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Video Business, The Whole Toon Catalog, Animation Blast, Animato, Wild Cartoon Kingdom and the on-line Animation World Magazine.
Beck reteamed with Will Friedwald to update and revise their Warner Bros.
cartoon history as Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons
in 1989. Beck has also written I Tawt I Taw a Putty Tat: 50 Years of Sylvester and Tweety
, The 50 Greatest Cartoons
, and co-authored (again with Will Friedwald) Warner Bros. Animation Art
in 1997. Beck is also a contributing editor to Leonard Maltin
's Movie & Video Guide
and Maltin's Family Film Guide
Recognized as an authority on animation, Beck taught a nine week course at the UCLA Extension on "Animation: The State Of The Art" in 1992
and conducted seminars on "The History of the Hollywood Cartoon" for the American Film Institute
. In 1995
Beck taught "The History of Animation" at NYU and in the spring of 1996
taught "Promotion for Animation" at the School of Visual Arts
. He was a founding member of the Cartoon Network
advisory board in 1993
, and serves on the board of directors of ASIFA-Hollywood
, a chapter of (The International Animated Film Association
In the 1990s, Beck co-produced a successful series of laser disc compilations for MGM/UA Home Video, which included The Golden Age of Looney Tunes
, The Compleat Tex Avery
and The Art of Tom & Jerry
and he has programmed over 100 video tape collections. He has been an animation consultant to Walt Disney Home Video
, Warner Home Video
, Rhino Records
and Republic Entertainment
(curating the best-selling Betty Boop: The Definitive Collection
More recently, Beck compiled the 15 volume sets of Looney Tunes: The Collector’s Edition and Woody Woodpecker and Friends: The Collectors Edition for Columbia House. He also co-produced Somewhere in Dreamland: The Definitive Max Fleischer Color Classics for VCI Entertainment. He is now a consulting producer for the annual DVD compilation Looney Tunes Golden Collection.
In 1989, Beck partnered with producer Carl Macek to form Streamline Pictures
. Streamline was the first company devoted to importing Japanese animation and distributing anime to North American theatres, television and home video. Among Streamline's many titles were Akira
, Fist of the North Star
, Vampire Hunter D
, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water
, Wicked City
, and Robot Carnival
. Beck also co-produced the 1993 Fox English language version of My Neighbor Totoro
and compiled Speed Racer: The Movie
for Family Home Entertainment.
Beck parted with Streamline in 1993 to pursue other areas of animation. He became Executive Producer of The Baby Huey Show for The Harvey Entertainment Co. Beck then joined Nickelodeon Movies as Vice President of Animation, under a three year contract. At Nickelodeon, Beck was instrumental in developing The Rugrats Movie, Mighty Mouse and The Stinky Cheese Man.
From September 1997
through April 1998
, Beck had an exclusive consulting and development deal with Walt Disney Television Animation
. Also in 1997, Beck formed Cartoon Research Co. to write books, consult on animation projects, compile CD
's and home video products, supply cartoon stock footage and develop new features and TV series.
In 1999, Beck produced Totally Tooned In for Columbia Tri-Star International Television, a 65 episode series that restored the Columbia theatrical cartoon library; and for Cartoon Network wrote and co-produced the special Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons.
Beck was co-Creator, co-Producer and co-writer of Karen and Kirby for Warner Bros. TV Animation. 13 Karen and Kirby interstitials were produced and were shown on Kids WB's The Big Cartoonie Show.
Beck was the West Coast Bureau Chief for KidScreen
magazine for one year (July 2000
through July 2001
), and co-wrote the Cartoon Network special Toonheads: The Wartime Cartoons
(which aired 7/1/01 and received a modest 2.3 rating). Beck also co-wrote Toonheads: The 12 Missing Hares
and Toonheads: The Worst Cartoons Ever
(both projects were shelved). In 2002, Beck became a writer/producer for Rubberbug Animation, which produced an award winning educational DVD project named algebra'school
Beck had two more books published in 2003: Outlaw Animation and Looney Tunes: The Ultimate Visual Guide.
In 2004, Beck was General Editor of Animation Art, and wrote two more books which were published in 2005: The Animated Movie Guide and Pink Panther: the Ultimate Visual Guide.
Beck's six minute cartoon short Hornswiggle
, produced by Frederator Studios
, will air as part of the Random Cartoons
series Dec. 20, 2008 on Nicktoons Network
. He collaborates with Mystery Science Theater's Frank Conniff
to produce Cartoon Dump
on the Web and as a monthly live comedy show at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood. An annual show of Worst Cartoons has become a Friday night staple of Comic-Con International
, drawing an audience of over a thousand to watch Beck's latest selection of terrible but commercially distributed television cartoon series episodes (mostly drawn from low budget 1960s syndicated programs).