At first glance, it would be easy to point at the myriad of achievements and awards that Chuck Jones accomplished and received during his lifetime. He created over 300 films over a seven-decade career in animation. His films were nominated for 9 Academy Awards (winning 3). He was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Oscar by the Academy in 1996. He created or co-created possibly the most memorable and enduring set of characters in history, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Marvin Martian, Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote, Pepe le Pew, Michigan J. Frog, Ralph & Sam, Hubie & Bertie, Marc Anthony & Kitty, and dozens more. Chuck Jones and Walt Disney are the only two animation professionals to be Director’s Guild of America Honorary Lifetime Member Recipients. He received four honorary doctorates. He was presented with the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres Award from the French Minister of Culture. He received the Smithsonian Institution 150th Anniversary Medal of Achievement. And many, many more …

At a second glance, it might be reasonable to recognize all of the firsts that he and his films achieved during his career. He is credited with developing animation smear techniques as early as 1942. His film, What’s Opera, Doc? was the first animated film ever inducted into the National Film Registry as one of America’s most culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant films of our time. His 1950 film, So Much for So Little, was the first animated short subject documentary winner. He was the first animation artist to have a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

And perhaps he will be particularly remembered through time because Chuck Jones was truly unique in the 20th Century as a modern-day Renaissance man being recognized as a superlative filmmaker, writer, fine artist, lecturer, and philosopher.

However, beyond the accolades and achievements accomplished and bestowed on him and his creations, the man himself brought something unique to our society. His leadership within the industry throughout his career, both in the creative process as well as social and business endeavors, was paramount to his continued evolution in the industry. He was at the forefront of the development of the animator’s union and was singularly steadfast in his defense of the rights of co-workers.

But likely the most significant contribution that Chuck Jones made during his lifetime (and continues today) is the inspiration that he provided to countless animators, artists, writers, filmmakers, comedians, and more. Many of our greatest animation creators draw a direct line back to their personal interactions with Chuck Jones as the seminal times in their careers. This group includes John Lasseter, Darrell Van Citters, John Canemaker, Eric Goldberg, Rob Minkoff, Chris Bailey, Kelly Asbury, and Jeff DeGrandis. Film creators such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Joe Dante have stated that Chuck Jones’ work was a primary influence on their development as a filmmaker. And both Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams give Chuck Jones credit for teaching them through his films how comic timing should be done right.

During his lifetime, Chuck Jones became and continues to be a National Treasure. His films have possibly inspired more laughter throughout the world over six generations than any other body of work because of its quality and timelessness. There is no equal to the man, the work, and the inspiration that has impacted so many from all walks of life.

Chuck Jones