Ralph Eggleston, an animation whiz who was hired by Pixar in the lead-up to the release of “Toy Story,” has died following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56.
Over the course of his storied career, Eggleston went on to serve in a variety of roles at Pixar, memorably contributing to everything from “Monsters, Inc.” to both “Incredibles” movies to “Inside Out” and “Soul.” (The animation studio didn’t release an official statement but sent an email to staff confirming the news this morning.)
Eggleston started his career with former Disney animator Bill Kroyer, working on things like the title sequence for “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and eventually Kroyer’s directorial debut “Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest.” Eggleston then left to join Disney, working on some of the most celebrated movies in the company’s filmography ( “Aladdin,” “The Lion King” and “Pocahontas”) before joining Pixar in 1992 as the studio was transforming from a company that did software and commercials (the short films were basically used to showcase whatever technology Pixar was hawking at the time) to a full-fledged movie studio.
He would serve as an art director for “Toy Story.” The moving van company that Andy’s family uses in the final chase is even named after his nickname: Eggman Movers. Eggleston would become a mainstay at Pixar, although he would sometimes flit between studios (he has a credit on DreamWorks Animation’s “The Road to El Dorado” and helped out on Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog”). In 2000, “For the Birds,” a short film that Eggleston wrote and directed, was released and would win the Oscar the following year for Animated Short.
When Brad Bird joined Pixar in May 2000, Eggleston was reunited with his old friend. The two had worked on the “Family Dog” episode of Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” television series in the late 1980s. Eggleston would work on all of Bird’s features for Pixar, most recently 2018’s Oscar-nominated “Incredibles 2.” (Bird has since joined former Pixar executive John Lasseter at Skydance Animation.) Eggleston also served as the production designer on “WALL•E” and “Inside Out,” done character designs for “Up,” and provided development art for “Cars 2” and “Soul.” He even helped Andrew Stanton out on his live-action feature “John Carter.”
In 2018, Eggleston was awarded the Winsor McCay award in recognition of his lifetime contributions to the art of animation. His passing marks not just a huge loss for Pixar but for the animation community at large; he leaves behind a body of work that showcases his chameleonic talent and a knack for design that remains unparalleled in modern animation.