PORTLAND (CBSLA) — Will Vinton, the creative producer behind the iconic claymation California Raisins, has died.
Vinton was 70.
His death was reported on his Facebook page by his family on Thursday.
Vinton was born in Oregon, and while known for his California creation made his home in the Portland area.
He started with an animation studio in his basement. He went on to win many awards including the Emmy and Oscar.
In addition to creating the look of the California Raisins, he also was responsible for the Domino’s Pizza Noid.
The singing raisins, seen in a series of commercials, started in 1986 to promote the Sun-Maid brand on behalf of the California Raisin Advisory Board. Vinton’s studio created the look and soon they were everywhere — on records, on TV specials, in the Emmy-winning “A Claymation Christmas Celebration” and magazine profiles.
In 1988, CBS aired a Raisins mockumentary called “Meet The Raisins!” in the style of “Meet The Beatles.” A year later, the Raisins even became a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon.
At the height of their popularity, you could find the Raisins on everything including figurines, posters, lunch boxes and comic books. They even had a fan club.
According to his family, Vinton had been battling a cancer of the white blood cells.
His family wrote, “This morning our father, Will Vinton, passed away surrounded by love from his family. Will had endured a 12-year battle with Multiple Myeloma, although you never would have known of this fight. For the vast majority of that time he continued forward in his life with strength, positivity, and humor, enjoying tropical get-aways, shepherding new creative ventures, and caring for his two sons, daughter and wife.”
They added ,”Will was the strongest man we have ever known, both in his work ethic and his mental resolve. He always said, ‘Do good work and everything else will follow,’ and he never gave up on the things that were important to him.”
Vinton stayed connected to his many fans through his Facebook page “Welcome To My Daydream.” Posts started appearing with less frequency at the end of last year.