THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
March 28, 2019 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Larry Larson (1946-2019)

I thought I’d use this space to pay a mini tribute to a wonderful soul; this past week I’ve been both smiling at memories—in-between bouts of being devastated— remembering one of my favorite people on the planet.

Last Friday, we lost Larry Larson, an incredible instructor in stop motion, especially in armature building and maquette sculpture. Larry started at CCS (The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan) just after I did in 2000. For these past 19 years he’s been a great friend and inspiration to me and nearly everyone he worked with. He had a wonderful ability to connect with people and help them figure out what they wanted to pursue. I learned so many things from Larry, especially in teaching. His 73 years on the planet were really just not enough.

Helping others was truly one of Larry’s callings. He loved working with the students at the college, and was so proud that many of them went on to work as stop motion animators and fabricators. Even if you didn’t have a class here with Larry, there’s a pretty good chance you still had at least a little chat with him, and possibly even a deep conversation. Larry was also the only instructor here who would likely play his guitar during class, and sometimes sing too. He also played live for many years here in Detroit at the Gaelic League. One of my favorite memories was Larry singing ‘The Rainbow Connection’ at Puppeteer and animator Alex Thomas’ wedding.

Larry’s memorial service will be Saturday, April 6th. The family has set up a gofundme to help with the funeral and memorial expenses.

Here is a great little film made by Ellen Coons in 2012 as her thesis film at CCS. Ellen is a wonderful animator and fabricator, working in the industry in LA. She was one of Larry’s (and my) students, and this little film seems like a nice and fitting tribute to Larry’s helping talented people (animation history-related note: the Bimbo deck of cards and toys at the end may or may not be from my stash of stuff):

Larry worked in fabrication and stop motion from the early 1970s on. His time in LA led to friendships with Dave Allen and Jim Danforth. Back in Detroit, Larry animated for Sam Rami’s low budget Evil Dead 2 film at the beginning of the film:

…and, if memory serves, Larry also built the disembodied hand for this film. This scene may have been animated by either Larry, Tom Sullivan or Rick Catizone:

A handful of years back, I helped Larry with authoring a DVD on building stop motion armatures. He still has the clips from the DVD on youtube, although the disc hasn’t been available in a while. You can get some idea of the casual nature of Larry from these little clips:

Here’s a little clip from ‘Barrington Bunny’ a stop-motion short Larry wrote and animated in 1973. I scanned Larry’s print of this many years back, and hope to include it on the upcoming Stop Motion Marvels 2:

Here’s a bizarre and somewhat Will Vinton-esque commercial from the Mid-80s, produced and animated by Larry, for the Michigan-based ‘Tubby’s Submarine’ chain:

Here is Larry’s last Stop-Motion project, The Frost King (2014), narrated by Larry himself, with assistance by CCS professor Josh Harrell as well as students Stevie Quigly, Josh Spooner and Sami Kerwin. It’s a fitting story for him:

Thank you so much Larry for helping so many people and for adding much needed love to this old world. We’ll miss you daily. Have a good week everyone.

8 Comments

  • Oh God..that’s bad..! So Sorry to hear about Larry passing. Thanks for bringing his work to our attention. What did he die of?

  • May he rest in peace

    On a unrelated note, Hey Steve!
    I heard The Bob Godfrey Collection (aka the Bob Godfrey estate) is interested in working with ya by means of distributing Godfrey’s work like the Oscar winning short “Great” on DVD and Blu-ray thru Amazon
    Here’s their e-mail address: bobgodfreycollection@gmail.com
    Don’t ask how i got this – it’s a long story

    • Pretty interesting if that’s true. I could see Steve working on such a release of Godfrey’s work if possible.

  • Hey, do you know what he died from? I forgot about him..never knew him but I now remember his name..

  • Thanks for this fond tribute to your late friend, Larry Larson. Thanks for all the nice, short film clips you provided to give a taste of Larry’s work and talent. I really was intrigued by the video showing his method of constructing an armature from two dimensional character designs. It takes a unique mind to bridge the gap between designing something that works on a surface into an object that will animate in a three dimensional space. His animation on the Frost King looks a bit like Starevitch, and his animation of the hand in Evil Dead 2, reminded me of “The Beast With Five Fingers” starring Peter Lorre. This was an enjoyable post, and I learned a bit from it. Rest In Peace in a Heavenly Stop Motion Land, Larry!

    • How did he die? secret?

  • I’ve known Larry Larson for many years, going all the way back to when he made the Stop Motion short sponsored by Sony, BARRINGTON BUNNY. He had previously worked at Opticals West in Los Angeles on many of the Pillsbury “Poppin’ Fresh” Dough Boy commercials. He used to live near me on Hartwell off West Outer Drive in Detroit, living with his father after the death of his mother, and continued to live with and care for his father until his death.
    I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of my dear friend.

  • Thanks for the show-and-tell, Steve. I have fond memories of working with Larry at Grace & Wild on various projects with a dream-team of talent including Richard Roy, Joe Miller and Bruce Johnson, Martina Coffey, Doug Bowen, and Mark Stucky. Larry was a joy to have around and would usually take-on the most ambitious of tasks, but still have time at the end to help cel-paint or build props.
    Very sad to hear the news of his passing, he and Harryhousen are up there teaming-up on some crazy monster, no doubt.

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