March 13, 1960 – Animator, Storyboard Artists, and Disney Legend Joe Ranft is Born
“Joe was really a major part of Pixar’s soul. He was one of the key players who made all the films what they are.” – Director Pete Doctor
On March 13, 1960, Joseph Henry Ranft was born in Pasadena, California, and grew up in Whittier. He had a strong interest in movies, magic, and performing, all things that would impact his career. In 1978, Ranft enrolled in the California Institute of the Arts, where he studied Disney-style animation alongside future collaborators John Lasseter and Brad Bird. In 1980, Ranft accepted a job offer from Disney, and earned a quick reputation as an outstanding story artist. He contributed to the story of several films, including Oliver and Company, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Fantasia 2000. In 1991, Ranft began working for Pixar, working on the story for their first computer-animated feature film, Toy Story. His knack of performing and impressions got him hired as the voice of Heimlich in the studio’s second film, A Bug’s Life; he would continue writing and performing on Toy Story 2, voicing Wheezy the penguin, and had writing credits for Monsters, Inc. and Cars. Unfortunately, Ranft was killed in a car accident on August 16, 2005, leaving behind a legacy of storytelling and a reputation as a “story giant of our generation,” as relayed by director Henry Selick. Ranft was named a Disney Legend in 2006.