Another of my childhood influences, Hal Sutherland, passed yesterday. An artist, director and producer, Mr. Sutherland worked in Hollywood for nearly two decades, and along the way he partnered with Norm Prescott and Lou Scheimer to create the animation company Filmation Associates.
They would go on to create numerous iconic Saturday morning cartoons and live-action television series, including the animated version of Star Trek. Mr. Sutherland was the last of the Filmation co-founders to pass. We lost Lou Scheimer back in October, and Norm Prescott died in 2005. If you’ve watched the show, then you’ll likely recall his distinctive title card at the end of the first season’s sixteen episodes.
Though he left Hollywood behind for the most part in the early 1970s, Mr. Sutherland remained active, continuing to paint and having several of his pieces featured in prominent magazines. Many of his pieces can be seen and purchased at his website, Hal Sutherland Art.
Obviously, my appreciation for Mr. Sutherland is due to the impact he had on me as a kid. He, along with partners Scheimer and Prescott, are considered by many to be three of the “fathers of Saturday morning television.” If you planted yourself in front of the family TV in the 1960s, 70s, or 80s, then you almost certainly watched something Filmation created. While the company was and remains the target of criticism and snark due to its trademark “limited” animation style, the stories featured in its various series, despite being aimed primarily at young children, still resonate today. The animated Star Trek only fueled my interest in the show throughout the 1970s, and along with books, comics and toys to fill that gap between the original series and the first feature film, by which time I was doomed to be a Trekkie for life.
(L-R: Filmation founders Norm Prescott, Hal Sutherland, and Lou Scheimer)
Rest in peace, Mr. Sutherland, and thanks for so many happy childhood memories.