PORTLAND, OR — Will Vinton, the award-winning animator known for pioneering the Claymation technique, has died at age 70. The LA Times reports that Vinton had been battling multiple myeloma for the last 12 years, and that he died surrounded by his family in Portland, OR.
“He saw the world as an imaginative playground full of fantasy, joy, and character,” his children said in a Facebook post. “He created stories and characters filled with laughter, music, and powerful lessons that are globally beloved.”
Vinton was known for creating the California Raisins and the talking M&Ms. He founded Will Vinton Studios in the 1970s. The studio went on to create The PJs, featuring the voices of Eddie Murphy and Loretta Devine. He left the company in 2003.
Vinton won an Academy Award in 1975 for the animated short film Closed Mondays. His other Oscar-nominated films include The Great Cognito, The Creation and Rip Van Winkle.
Vinton discovered he liked working with clay while studying architecture and film at UC Berkeley in the 1960s.
“Clay is a natural material for animation,” Vinton told The Times in 1992. “Clay characters can show a wide range of emotions, and they're able to transform easily from one shape to another.”