Melendez, voice of Snoopy, dead at 91

September 8, 2008

LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- Bill Melendez, the famed animator who lent his voice to the beloved beagle Snoopy, has died in Santa Monica, Calif., at the age of 91, his publicist said.

Amy Goldsmith told the Los Angeles Times Melendez died Tuesday at St. John's hospital.

The cause of his death wasn't given.

During a nearly 70-year career, Melendez worked at the Walt Disney Studio, Leon Schlesinger Cartoons, UPA and Playhouse Pictures. In 1938, MelÚndez was hired by Walt Disney to work on animated short films and feature-length films such as Bambi, Fantasia, and Dumbo. While there, he worked to unionize the rank and file animators he was working with.[3] A member of the Screen Cartoonists' Guild, he left as part of the 1941 Disney animators' strike and never returned as an employee.

While at Disney, he contributed to the movies "Pinocchio," "Fantasia," "Bambi" and "Dumbo." He also worked on Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck short films.

The Mexican-born, award-winning artist started Bill Melendez Productions in 1964. It was there, the Times said, that he and his partner, Lee Mendelson, produced the timeless holiday special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," based on Charles Schulz's characters and in which Melendez first voiced the doggy sounds and emotions of the canine character of Snoopy.

Melendez went on to do the same in 63 half-hour specials, five one-hour specials and a Saturday morning television series. He also collaborated with Mendelson and Schulz on the movies "A Boy Named Charlie Brown," "Snoopy, Come Home," "Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown" and "Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back.)"

Melendez is survived by his wife of 68 years Helen; two sons, six grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

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