J. Michael Mendel, award-winning animation producer, dead at 54

Mendel began his career in television on the Tracey Ullman Show where Matt Groening began showing ‘The Simpsons,’ he won four Emmys for his work.

September 24, 2019 17:40
1 minute read.
J. Michael Mendel, award-winning animation producer, dead at 54

Lisa Simpson on her first apperance on television on the The Tracey Ullman Show, the character would eventually win Mendel his first Emmy for producing 'Lisa's Wedding'. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

US television producer K. Michael Mendel, known for his work on such shows as The Simpsons and Rick and Morty, passed away on Sunday, two days shy of his 55th Birthday, CNN reported on Tuesday. 

Mendel won four Emmy awards for his work. The cause of death is not yet known.

Mendel began his long involvement with The Simpsons while working on the Tracey Ullman show, where the characters began to appear in short animated sketches.

The Simpsons eventually went on to get their own program and break several records, such as America’s longest-running animated program. Their creator, Matt Groening, went on to create other acclaimed animation shows such as Futurama and Disenchantment.

Mendel produced the Simpsons since the show began until its 10th season, winning the Emmy for Lisa’s Wedding, which features a guest appearance by Mandy Patinkin, and two more for Homer’s Phobia and Trash of the Titans. He went on to produce other shows like Drawn Together, an animated show that used the ploy of a reality show in which the different characters were from different animation styles, and Rick and Morty.

Rick and Morty, an animated show focusing on a brilliant scientist, his grandchild, and their adventures, won high acclaim from critics and viewers for its bold, adult-oriented sense of humor. Mendel won an award for Pickle Rick in 2018. He worked on 83 episodes of The Simpsons and 22 episodes of Rick and Morty, Heavy.com reported. 

Adult Swim, the network that airs Rick and Morty, tweeted that they are all “devastated by the untimely passing of Rick and Morty producer Mike Mendel.

“He guided and supported a generation of artists, writers and creators,” they added, “and his absence will be felt by the entire community.”

He is survived by his wife Juel Bestrop and two children Jacob and Jesse. The family lived in Studio City, a neighborhood in LA.

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