Tuck Tucker, an American animator best known for his work on SpongeBob Squarepants and Hey, Arnold has passed on. The announcement was made on Facebook by his brother Bailey. The cause his death on December 22, 2020, remains undisclosed at this writing. He was 59 years old.
Tucker, an award-winning artist, was born William Osborne Tucker III on August 20, 1961 in Lynchburg, Virginia. He had a strong passion for animation that grew while watching cartoons with his father. Eventually, Tucker moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the craft and business he loved.
His first job was as a breakdown artist on 1987’s Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night. As well, he also worked on Disney‘s 1989 film The Little Mermaid, as well as the Rugrats animated series, and was even a character layout artist for The Simpsons.
From 1987 to 2015, he worked as a storyboard artist, layout artist, character designer, director, and art instructor. He worked on the Filmation movie Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night (1987), which starred The Orville‘s Scott Grimes as Pinocchio and Star Wars‘ James Earl Jones as the Emperor of the Night.
Along with Hey Arnold!, Tucker was also well-known for his work on SpongeBob SquarePants where he worked as a storyboard artist. Not only was he was a storyboard artist for 2004’s The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, but he was also the supervising storyboard director for 47 episodes of the show from 2007 to 2004. Tucker also wrote six episodes of SpongeBob.
Tucker was also well know for his work on Hey Arnold!, storyboard directing 26 episodes, and going on to direct the 2002 film Hey Arnold!, and working as supervising director on 19 episodes of the show from 1999 to 2004.
More recently, Tucker was the storyboard revisionist for the upcoming Bob’s Burgers film, currently in production.
Along with fans, friends and fellow animators, Craig Bartlett, the creator of Hey Arnold!, paid tribute to Tucker on Instagram this week. “A great friend, a master draftsman,” he said, “a tireless practical joker, a brilliant storyteller, the first one I reached out to when I began ‘Hey Arnold!’ because he was the best board guy I had ever met. I’ll always remember him at his drawing board, arms blackened to the elbows with graphite, eraser shavings everywhere, bringing my characters to life. A killer work ethic, passionately into it. I’m so lucky I got to work with him for so many years. He gave and gave. I miss him already, my heart is broken. Rest in power, Tuck Tucker.”
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.