August 23, 2005 by

Joe Ranft


Categories: Writers/Editors

joeranft.jpgJoe Ranft, an Oscar-nominated writer and a founding member of the Pixar Animation Studios creative team, was killed on Aug. 16 in a car accident. He was 45.

Born in Pasadena and raised in Whittier, Calif., Ranft attended the California Institute of Arts with director John Lasseter. He joined the story department at Walt Disney Feature Animation in 1980, where he worked on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and co-wrote the films “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King.”

Ranft reunited with Lasseter in 1992 to help transform Pixar into a powerhouse animation studio. For the last 13 years, he worked in story development and provided the voices of Heimlich the caterpillar in “A Bug’s Life,” Wheezy the asthmatic penguin in “Toy Story 2” and Jacques the cleaner fish in “Finding Nemo.” For co-writing the 1995 film “Toy Story,” Ranft earned an Academy Award nomination.

Ranft also supervised the story for “Cars,” a Pixar film scheduled for release next summer, and served as an executive producer on Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride,” which comes out in September. He previously worked with Burton as a storyboard supervisor on “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Last week, Ranft and his friends, Elegba Earl, 32, and Eric Frierson, 39, were driving northbound on Highway 1 in Mendocino County, Calif., en route to take part in a retreat for a mentoring program. Earl, who was driving, lost control of their 2004 Honda Element, veered off the road and over a cliff. The car plunged 130 feet and crashed into the ocean.

Ranft and Earl died from injuries sustained in the accident. Frierson, who was riding in the back seat, survived by climbing through the car’s sun roof. He was hospitalized with moderate injuries.

Listen to a Tribute From NPR

10 Responses to Joe Ranft

  1. Austin Fairfield

    I was watching “Cars” when I found this out way past this death and I actually began to get teary eyed because I am a Pixar film lover! When I saw this I was in shock I can’t believe it I am so sorry for the loss and there are so many people out there that feel the same way.

  2. Jonathan

    It was sad for Pixar to lose a good storyteller and voice actor like Joe Ranft. He was a good story man for Pixar and Disney who he previousley worked for. Besides a good story man Joe was also the voice in many Pixar films such as Hemlich the Caterpillar in A BUG’S LIFE and Wheezy the toy penguin in TOY STORY 2. Just before his death Joe completed Cars with the story and he lent his voice to two characters Red the fire engine and the Peterbelt who Lightning McQueen mistakens for Mack. I will miss Joe Ranft and the work he’s done for Pixar will live on. My tribute goes out to his family and friends.
    To the late great Joe Ranft
    Who gave Hemlich a funney and sweet personallity
    and Wheezy the toy Penguin his soal.
    Will be forever greatful at PIXAR STUDIOS

  3. iveco

    i saw (Cars)the movie great. at the end i was curious aboub Joe Ranft i got some details about him great man
    at least a tear in his memory its good from all hoo watch his great movies
    peace all

  4. JoeRanft Fan

    When i saw i the movie cars. I LOVED IT. i watch it everyday. i watch the movie about 10 times a day. but when it got to the end. i wonder who joe ranft was? so i went on enternet and checked him out. MAN he was a great guy. he made all that movie. that is greay. i am so glad he made the movie CARS!

  5. Nancy

    I did not know who this gentleman was. I am a grandma of 7 and my grandson Jio LOVES the movie “Cars”. He watches it at least twice a day, everyday. I’m sorry for the family left behind. Thank you Mr. Ranft for your creativity and your love to this industry.
    Prayers to your family.

  6. Armando Diaz

    I’m 38 years old and just saw Cars for the first time. I actually cried at the end. I loved it. My kids asked me who JOE RANFT WAS, WELL KNOW WE ALL KNOW. REST IN PEACE.

  7. khristian

    i just watched cars and at the end i saw a dedication to joe rafnt so i checked him out on my net and now i know who is that guy..i feel sory for his family and relatives and also to pixar and pixar fans (me)…T_T

  8. dkodanev

    I’ve seen this film several times before I wondered, who is Mr. Ranft from the credits. Don’t you think it is a terrible irony that his last work was CARS, and he was killed in the car? How many great ideas he had taken with himself? Sorry for him. Sorry for his family. Sorry for us – he was a great man and we lost him.

  9. Yaropolk

    I’m 26 years old from Russia, I’ve just seen “Cars” for the first time and at the end saw this dedication to Joe Ranft. Sad… real sad… As I found out he was a great man and done so much for Pixar! Why such good people have to be taken away so early… Rest In Peace Joe, your work will never be forgotten!

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