Renowned Australian producer Yoram Gross, best known for the Dot and the Kangaroo & Blinky Bill animations, has died aged 88.
He died of natural causes, according to Inside Film.
Gross produced a cavalcade of Australian animated projects in both film and television.
Born in Kraków to a Jewish family, Yoram endured World War II under the Nazi regime. His family was on Oskar Schindler’s infamous list, but chose to make their own risky escape, moving hiding places 72 times.
He first entered the film industry in 1947 in Kraków, commencing his career as an assistant to Polish directors Cenkalski and Buczowski, as well as the Dutch director Yoris Ivens. In 1950, he moved from Europe to Israel, where he worked as a newsreel and documentary cameraman. He then became an independent film producer and director and began winning prizes at film festivals all over the world.
In 1968 together with his wife Sandra and their young family Yoram moved to Australia. There, Yoram continued to make experimental films and produced film clips for Bandstand. That same year, they established Yoram Gross Film Studios – initially working from home and eventually expanding the company into Australia’s most prolific and well-known animation production house.
Since 1977 he devoted his energies to making feature-length animated films and series, starting with Dot and the Kangaroo, which used a special aerial image technique of drawings over live action backgrounds.
“I get more satisfaction out of entertaining children, who are the beginners in life,” he once said.
He produced, directed and scripted more than 16 features, including eight which continued the adventures of Dot. To co-ordinate with the release of his films, he published books based on the films Dot and the Kangaroo, The Little Convict and Save the Lady.
In 1992 came the release of Blinky Bill, based on the Australian children’s classic by Dorothy Wall. It spawned the TV series Blinky Bill’s Extraordinary Excursion.
Other TV credits included Skippy: Adventures in Bushtown, Flipper & Lopaka, Fairy Tale Police Department, Bambaloo, Staines Down Drains, Zeke’s Pad, Dive Olly Dive! and The Woodlies.
In 1995 he was awarded the prestigious Order of Australia for his outstanding achievements and for his contribution to the Australian film industry.
Yoram Gross’ legacy lives on under the Flying Bark banner, following a company sale in 2006. Flying Bark’s Blinky Bill: The Movie, opened in Australian cinemas last week.
A new kid’s series The Wild Adventures of Blinky Bill, is coming to Seven next year.