Venerated animator, studio owner, and CalArts faculty Dale Baer (Chouinard 70) passed away on Jan. 15, 2021. He was 70.
With a career spanning more than five decades, Baer contributed to various beloved animated works, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), The Lion King (1994), The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), The Princess and the Frog (2009), and Zootopia (2016).
“He was one of the kindest people I’ve worked with,” animator and director Clay Kaytis stated in a tribute to Baer on Twitter. “So talented and so humble. A true one-of-a-kind and I’m grateful to have known him.”
Shortly after leaving Chouinard, Baer joined the animation company Filmation. In 1971, Baer started working at Disney Animation, where, according to Cartoon Brew, he was among the first “employees hired as part of the studio’s new training program.” During this time, Baer worked alongside the studio’s famed “Nine Old Men” as an in-betweener until moving into animation. After Disney, he worked for various prominent animation studios, and even launched his own studio, the Baer Animation Company, in the mid-1980s.
In recent years, Baer returned to the Institute to teach in Character Animation and Extended Studies. In 2017, Baer was honored with the prestigious Winsor McCay Lifetime Achievement Award at the 44th annual Annie Awards.
CalArts’ Extended Studies Facebook page noted the following in a tribute to Baer:
In addition to inspiring and caring for our community, Dale was a huge animal lover. He took care of all sorts of creatures—including llamas—and he always carried around dog biscuits in case he ran into any of his furry friends around campus.
Thank you, Dale, for making our world wonderful!