Emmy-Winning Animation Pioneer Leo D. Sullivan Dies At Age 82

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Emmy-award winning animator Leo D. Sullivan, whose career working on dozens of cartoons spanned 50 years, died March 25 at the age of 82.

Sullivan, who also directed and produced, is best remembered for being the man behind the animated train chugging across television screens for the opening shot of the hit television dance show, “Soul Train,” Deadline reported. Sullivan’s other work was featured in cartoon series like “Fat Albert,” “Transformers” and “My Little Pony.” Sullivan also did work for “The Incredible Hulk,” “Flash Gordon” and “Scooby-Doo.”

He first got his start as an errand-runner for “Looney Tunes” animator Bob Clampett after moving to Los Angeles in 1952. Sullivan went on to co-found Vignette Films, a company that produced educational films for students in the U.S about black historical figures, Variety reported. Fellow co-founder, Disney animator Floyd Norman, continued to work with Sullivan throughout the years, founding AfroKids, a website and streaming service “for the whole Black family,” the outlet stated.

In a tribute to Sullivan on Twitter, Norman stated, “Our friend Leo Sullivan has passed on. He was a legend in the animation community, using animation and filmmaking to share Black History with U.S. high school students in the 1960s…Rest in peace, Leo.” (RELATED: Father Of Wayan Brothers Dead At Age 86)

For his contributions to the world of film making, Sullivan was twice recognized by the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in Oakland. In addition to those recognitions, Sullivan has had some of his artistic work featured in the San Francisco Cartoon Museum and the Los Angeles African American Museum, according to Variety.

Sullivan also worked to pass on his talents, teaching digital animation and 2D animation for three years at the Art Institute of California-Orange County.

Sullivan died of heart failure and is survived by his wife Ethelyn and his children, Tina Coleman and Leo D. Sullivan Jr., Variety reported.